Worried about sticking with your New Year’s resolution in 2012? Take Ryan Hohman’s advice and wing it.
No, seriously: The 28-year-old New Yorker recently challenged himself to eat 2,011 chicken wings by the end of 2011, and he accomplished the meaty milestone a few days ago, on December 20.
The idea started as a joke exchanged with a friend via text message. “I thought it was pretty funny, so I kept the idea in the back of my head,” Hohman said. He started eating wings on New Year’s Day 2011 as he recovered from the events of the night before. He then updated his Facebook page to read “Wing Count: 6,” and added eight more the next day. Soon after starting a blog and a Facebook page to track progress towards his resolution and, calling himself the “Ultimate Wingman,” the gastronomical challenge began to go viral.
As his popularity grew, so did the wing-related opportunities. He rated every wings joint he attended (on a scale from one to five Tums, instead of stars), and by February, he found himself judging the “Best Wings in Brooklyn” competition. Heartburn medication Prilosec OTC sponsored him. In September he did a “wing crawl” with Bon Appetit magazine the day after he returned from serving as a taste-tester at the National Buffalo Wing Festival. Through it all, his social media prowess grew; riffing on Charlie Sheen, he coined the Twitter hashtag “#WINGING,” and gained a following with each successive update.
Hohman says he ate wings for about 65% of his meals. A typical week would have him eating 15-20 wings every other day, and devoting his weekend to finding a new eatery to pack away another 30. NewsFeed has been interested in his progress since the start, even suggesting several strategies to keep the spicy snacks interesting as the tally grew. The one that helped him most? “Learn to love every sport.”
“I’m a big sports guy; I love football, basketball, but those aren’t the only sports you can eat wings with,” Hohman says, adding, “Sometimes I eat wings when I’m watching daytime television. Soap operas, you name it—there’s not one thing I cannot eat wings to.”
“Sometimes it’s not pretty,” Hohman admits. But though he has yet to get his cholesterol checked (that’s a resolution he promises to fulfill in the coming weeks), the effects of 2,011 wings have been strangely positive. As of December 20, Hohman weighs a cool 14 pounds lighter than he did when he started, and his blood pressure has decreased as well.
(MORE: A Brief History of Buffalo Wings)
But perhaps the healthiest part of the experience was the social media expertise he gained. He leaves the experience with a greater appreciation for Twitter, Facebook and blogging, and says that mentioning his quest for viral fame in a job interview got him the position.
He’s also now an expert when it comes to keeping a New Year’s resolution and staying dedicated to a cause. “I don’t care if it’s cool or not,” Hohman says, giving advice for the new year. “Make a resolution, start a blog, write about it, tweet about it, Facebook about it. Do something about it. The web’s out there to be yours. Make it happen.”
Hohman says he won’t shoot for 2012 chicken wings by the end of 2012, but hopes to leverage his status as the “Ultimate Wingman” to attend wings competitions and other events. And maybe even recruit sponsors for his next venture: To eat 50 wings in 50 states.
NewsFeed caught up with Hohman on the final night of his challenge. Watch him scarf down his final wings below.