A while back, I reported that a friend of mine — Jon Hendren of SomethingAwful.com — had challenged Smash Mouth singer Steve Harwell to eat 24 eggs for no particular reason. Harwell agreed, on the condition that the public raise $10,000 for his favorite charity, St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital. The money was raised in only a few days, though months of delays raised worries that Harwell might never get to it.
But a date was finally set. On October 10, in Dublin, California, Steve Harwell sat down to eat the eggs. I, your intrepid war-zone reporter, joined Jon at the event.
The egg-off took place outside Johnny Garlic's, a strip-mall restaurant owned by celebrity chef and grease connoisseur Guy Fieri (Yelp gives the joint two and a half stars). Harwell and Fieri are longtime friends, and were clearly impressed to know each other. They kicked things off with some good-natured bromantic chops-busting, then Fieri got down to business: he'd come prepared with dozens of chicken, duck, and quail eggs, and even a few giant ostrich eggs. By audience poll, Fieri decided to scramble up two dozen assorted eggs with a few pounds of other stuff, including an insane amount of Tabasco and jalapeño peppers. (The ostrich eggs were just razzle-dazzle. They never even got cracked.)
Harwell, intimidated by the huge scramble, offered himself a cop-out: if he needed help, he'd donate a thousand dollars to St. Jude's (which Fieri would match) and bring up an audience participant to lighten the load.
Harwell got to work, but it was slow going. About six eggs in, he called the first ringer: a husky, serious dude named Rick. Harwell divvied up the remaining scramble — which was most of it — and Rick got busy. Rick seemed less boisterous than the bros around him, and he soon revealed why: he'd recently lost his daughter, and he was aiding in the charity egg challenge to honor her memory.
Amid such an absurd spectacle, seeing a sad man stoically tuck into a mountain of spicy eggs in memory of his deceased daughter — yow. It may have shorted out my emotions permanently. Bless Rick's heart, he finished a great deal of Harwell's job for him.
By then it was clear that Harwell was done eating; he proceeded to stall, vamp, pass out prizes, and do just about everything but eat more eggs. He even persuaded Jon to come over and take a few bites; Jon later told me that the eggs were almost inedibly spicy.
The challenge concluded when Harwell offered an irresistible prize: anyone who finished the eggs would join Smash Mouth in the studio to record backing vocals on their new record. An enthusiastic woman volunteered, telling Steve that she'd throw aside her vegetarian ways for the opportunity. Harwell, the big sweetheart, told her that her enthusiasm was enough to secure the studio visit, and she didn't really have to compromise her basic principles. She ate the eggs anyway.