Accepting the ‘Challenge’

Students chug milk to celebrate Fourth

“Come celebrate AMERICA’S BIRTHDAY with class!” Patrick C. McDaniel ’13 wrote to summer residents of East Campus on July 3. “Join us tomorrow for the GALLON CHALLENGE!”

This Fourth of July, participants to the Gallon Challenge were encouraged to consume and retain a gallon of milk within one hour in order to show their patriotism.

The event was organized by McDaniel and Robert M. Johnson ’13. The last EC gallon challenge was held at the beginning of last semester, however, Johnson said that gallon challenges aren’t exactly scheduled regularly. The event occurs “perhaps whenever someone feels like they haven’t had enough calcium lately,” he said.

Most of the participants were given a gallon of skim milk and strategically placed alongside trash cans in case of messy accidents.

Andrew T. Carlson ’12 boldly chose to participate with a gallon of whole milk because he said that is what he customarily drank. Elizabeth K. Rosalia ’13, the only female participant, substituted a gallon of water for the milk. She was curious about whether the difficulty in the challenge lay in the volume of liquid or the unique unpalatability of milk itself.

Rosalia was the only one able to complete her gallon, but reported feeling dizzy and nauseous after the experience. None of the milk drinkers finished drinking their gallons, giving up with around a third of the milk to go.

Whole milk proved to be the most difficult to finish, although Carlson was admirably close to catching up with the other contestants.

Johnson said that he felt more patriotic after drinking all the milk. “What better way to reinforce the imperial measurement system. Who wants to participate in the 3.7854 liters challenge? Probably a bunch of lame metric system types,” Johnson said.

There are currently no studies on either PubMed or Google Scholar on the science behind why the gallon challenge is so hard. However, some websites, yielded through a preliminary Google search, offer a variety of reasons. Some suggest that the large amount of milk overwhelms a normal person’s lactose-digesting capabilities. A Yahoo! Answers user suggests that milk neutralizes stomach acids and thus acts against digestion itself. On the other hand, Some believe that the challenge is difficult simply because of the limitations of the maximum carrying capacity of the stomach; others believe that is just an excuse and purely psychological funny-business.