Catchy headline right? Well, it’s all true though. I did, in fact, win a yearlong supply of Cap’n Crunch. Prepare for the craziest story you’ve ever heard in your life (not really).
Back in October, I was invited to participate in THE CRUNCH BOWL. It was a Cap’n Crunch themed cereal obstacle course much to the likes of American Gladiator, Ninja Warrior, and Wipeout. People were hand picked off of social media by the Cap’n himself. I find it funny that one of my biggest feelings of accomplishment in my life was the moment I got a direct message notification from the Cap’n. It might as well have been a message from Saturday Night Live.
In the message, he invited me out to North Avenue beach with instructions. Prior to the event, I felt a little nervous because I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know if I’d be walking the plank or if at some point I’d plunge into the depths of Davey Jones locker. I just knew the time and the place.
When I arrived at the event, I made sure to introduce myself to the Cap’n who was standing around observing the beach. I walked right up and introduced myself, but he said nothing. He just stared at me and then put his hands together. I nodded and walked away. The Cap’n is a man of few words.
At the beach, I was teamed up with a random bystander who I thought kind of looked like Nick Jonas but not really. A bizarro Jonas from Earth-2. Each team was given a specific cereal name and there were 5-6 teams in total. My team was OOPS ALL BERRIES and I competed alongside teams like ORIGINAL CRUNCH, PEANUT BUTTER CRUNCH, SPRINKLED DONUTS, and CRUNCH BERRIES. The stakes? Whoever completed the course with the best time won an all-expenses paid trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Queue the sound of a record scratch. That’s right. I said ALL EXPENSES PAID. Once I heard that it quickly went from a fun day playing at the beach to feeling like I was competing in the Olympics. The event was hosted by celebrity Adam Pally who prompted the competitors asking them, “who wants to go first?”
I remember having a strong air of self-confidence wash over me. I stepped forward and said, “We’ll do it!” I felt like we could set the bar. In my head I pictured us completing the course in record time. I visualized myself running to the finish line and diving into the Cap’n arms as him and I ran to the ship and sailed around the world in search of the treasures of the deep, In reality, going first turned out to be a grave mistake. Buckle yourselves in as I take you through the obstacle course.
Jousting the Pirate
For the first obstacle, you had to stand in a large inflatable raft atop of pedestal and joust a guy in a huge Pirate costume gladiator-style. You had to stay on the pedestal for 30 seconds straight and throughout this whole bout, your competitors hurled foam cereal (but like hard foam that hurt if they threw it hard enough) at you. If you’re thinking to yourself, “it’s only 30 seconds” then you’ve never fought a man in a pirate costume before. Seriously, you don’t know what you’re talking about. When my partner asked who should do the activity, I jumped at the chance. I thought, “This will be easy.” For some context, I was a former Division I Big 10 college wrestler, I figured that I would have a little bit of a leg up on the competition given my background and balance. Then, we got started. I started jostling back and forth with the guy swinging these pugil sticks quickly realizing whoever I was going up against wasn’t just some schlub in a suit. He was hammering me with these sticks in wave after wave as I felt like Apollo Creed fighting Drago. I stood there getting pummeled like a rag doll as spectators screamed “he’s killing him!” I remember thinking to myself, “Who the hell is under that thing? Lou Ferigno!?!” I got mad and threw my whole body into him knocking both him and I off the pedestal restarting the timer. I finally got through it and fell out of the inflatable raft dead/exhausted as I slapped my partners hand to go onto the next event.
Riding the shark
For the second obstacle, my partner had to ride a mechanical shark while I recovered from my first ever UFC fight. All my partner had to do was ride this robot Jaws for 20 consecutive seconds and we’d go onto the next activity. I watched my partner hold on for dear life while a man in a left shark Superbowl costume danced with me. It was hilariously ridiculous.
Being a Mermaid
For the third obstacle, I had to wear a mermaid tail and sit under a water balloon dunk tank It was the first time I’d ever worn a mermaid tail and quite frankly, I don’t look bad in it. I could pull it off and I think I might start making it a new fashion statement. I sat there while my partner attempted to throw a ball at a bullseye. Seems easy enough, but unfortunately, I didn’t have Kerry Wood as my partner because it took about 5-7 throws before he got it. I remember thinking to myself, “yep we’re done. We lost right here.” As the time clicked away throw after throw I could see my girlfriend in the distance shaking her head at the realization that the trip to Mexico was disappearing.
Sliding into a giant bowl of cereal
For the next event, we had to climb up an inflatable pirate ship and then hop down a slide into a bowl of cereal. Now, when I say bowl of cereal I literally mean a giant bowl of cereal. It was filled with what looked like milk and those huge foam pieces of Cap’n Crunch that people were hurling at me only minutes earlier. I went down the slide face first like a buffoon and thought I was going to drown. Once you got out of the bowl soaking wet, you had to run through a tireyard (tires painted like sprinkled donuts) on your way to a rock wall.
Scaling the Wall
Literally this thing was the biggest rock-wall I’ve ever seen and was terrifying. At the top of it, a giant red spoon dangled. After I retrieved he spoon I kicked off of the wall propelling myself out only to forget that a thing called physics and momentum exists. I slammed back into the wall as the host and audience gasped. I threw my arms up Weekend at Bernies style to let the crowd know I survived.
With the giant spoons in hand, we now had to use them to dig up a buried treasure. On the sandy beach there were huge mounds of sand where an X marked the spot. As I dug and dug as hard as I could with a giant flimsy plastic spoon, I thought to myself, “this is how I’m going to die.” Finally, we uncovered a buried treasure chest which we needed to open to find the treasure. Unfortunately, the thing had been buried in wet sand or something and was basically locked shut. I pulled and yanked on the latch of the chest while jokingly yelling, “it’s rigged!” The crowd just stared at me. Eventually (30 seconds to an hour later) we got it open to reveal that it was full of delicious Cap’n Crunch. We dumped it into a bowl to complete the event.
CHICAGO, IL, OCTOBER 20, 2015 :
(Jean-Marc Giboux/ AP Images for Cap’n Crunch)
I then watched as team after team made their way through the course. Some doing better and some worse. In the end, I took 3rd place. No trip to Mexico. All hope was lost until suddenly the sneaky Cap’n had a surprise in store. The host informed all of the competitors that we were all going to win a yearlong supply of Cap’n Crunch for competing. I threw my arms into the air as the National Anthem played in my mind. When we were checking out I got a glimpse of the guy in the pirate costume to see that while it wasn’t actually Lou Ferigno, it was a guy who was jacked to the max. He shook my hand which crunched into dust and grabbed a shirt as a memento for the road.
All in all, it was an amazing experience and so much fun. It was physically taxing yet fulfilling. Like that sense of accomplishment people feel when they’ve completed a triathlon or the Crossfit Games or the Olympics. That’s how I felt finishing the Crunch Bowl. That’s comparable right?
A few months later I received the first half of the yearlong supply. It was right around the holidays. I had received two giant boxes that contained 20 individual boxes of Cap’n Crunch (some Original, some Crunchberries – all delicious).
Friends, family, co-workers, and even my landlord came out of the woodwork trying to get their sugar fix. Honestly, you would have thought I’d won the lottery. They treated the news of me winning a yearlong supply of cereal like I’d acquired a small collection of gold bullion from Fort Knox. Daily, people were saying”got any Crunchberry” and “don’t try to run from me!” My landlord asked for multiple boxes and misinformed the other tenants that I’d won a lifetime supply.
Word traveled about the Crunch Bowl online and I even became a meme. There’s one lifelong goal I can check off the bucket list.
On Christmas, I made a spectacle of it all and wrapped up an enormous box filled with the individual cereal boxes for the family get together. I got everyone’s attention and said, “Alright everybody. Here we go. The big one.” All the kids were so excited whispering among themselves, “what could it be?” and “do you think it’s a game?” Needless to say, expectations were sky high. I quickly tore away the paper and pulled out all of the cereal watching the joy and happiness wash away from the kid’s faces. What once was a look of excitement now remained a dead-eyed stare with a slack jaw. I maniacally laughed as I held the boxes in my hand while people stood around with puzzled faces simply saying, “WHAT?” The kids looked at me like I was the worst person in the world. It was a fantastic moment that I’ll cherish forever.
I’m currently waiting for the second half of the loot that I plundered and pillaged the beach for that day. We’ll see what I do with that next. As for what I have left from the first treasure. Well, let’s just say I’ve eaten a lot of cereal and given out a lot of cereal gifts.