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Man v. Food : The Follow-up

by Brandon October 23, 2009 03:24 AM

Brandon V. FoodIn my last post, I told you about being contacted by for a short spot on the Blahg about the Travel Channel's "Man v. Food"episode featuring some of Springfield's favorite eateries. I was promised a "Man v. Food" T-shirt for spreading the word. Well, it arrived! You can see me, to the right, using it to intimidate my fridge. smile_wink

We left for vacation they day after the episode aired and got around to watching it a few days after we got back, as part of our post-vacation recovery. It's funny to see your town on a national television show. Being both the capitol of Illinois and the hometown of Abe Lincoln, Springfield gets its fair share of airtime on various shows, so seeing Springfield on TV is nothing new. Seeing Springfield on "Man v. Food" was different, though, because it was about places I've been to and enjoyed with friends, rather than a museum or historical site (I enjoy those too, by the way).

Adam's first stop was the Cozy Dog Drive-In, mythical (and disputed) birthplace of the corn dog. Cozy dog, I tend to forget about you, because you're off my regular path. You can thank "Man v. Food" for reminding me of how great your corn dogs and burgers are. It was interesting to learn about the invention of the patented cozy dog food handler (a.k.a. the semi-automatic cozy dog maker), created by Ed Waldmire, the original owner of the Cozy Dog. The business is still in the family, too, which is great to see.

Next was D'Arcy's Pint, which is a favorite of mine. Here, the show featured the horseshoe. A horseshoe, for you outsiders, is a piece of bread, generally Texas toast, on a plate and topped with your choice of meat. Next, golden French fries are piled high. Finally, the ENTIRE THING is topped with a gooey, irresistible cheese sauce. The cheese sauce is what sets D'Arcy's shoes apart from many of the other horseshoes in town. "Man v. Food" featured the hamburger shoe. Personally, I think Adam would have enjoyed the buffalo chicken shoe more. I was a little surprised, in fact, to learn the hamburger shoe is the best seller. I make my way to D'Arcy's every few weeks. I don't get a horseshoe every time, however, for two main reasons. The first is that D'Arcy's has many other wonderful things to dine on besides cheese-covered fries, bread and meat. The second reason is I don't want to die. Great tasting food is always terrible for you, and the horseshoe is no exception. If you visit Springfield and dare to try this delicacy, start off with the ponyshoe which, as the name implies, is a smaller version. This is generally what I get, because being taken out of a restaurant in a wheelbarrow is embarrassing. Have your first one at D'Arcy's but be prepared to wait for a table during dinner hours. A friend of mine even started a D'Arcy's Pint Fan Club Facebook page, so join up!

Lastly, Adam visited Joe Rogers Chili Parlor on Ninth Street. The second half of the show took place here because Adam's challenge was to top the record-setting score of downing five bowls of Joe Rogers "Firebrand" chili. I've had Firebrand, too. Yep, it's hot! I remember this used to be called something like the J.R. Special, but it was re-labeled Firebrand a few years ago. I don't know the entire story behind it, so if you do, please leave a comment!

The Joe Rogers portion of the show starts off with a lesson on how they make the chili at Joe's. It was neat to see behind the scenes. Afterward, Adam works the crowd a bit before the big challenge. The woman whom he convinces to try a spoonful of Firebrand is the wife of one of my co-workers. I lol'd hard at her reaction.

Adam is good at hamming up the situation and does it in an entertaining way. During the Firebrand challenge, I can only imagine the pain as he's downing the bowls. He starts to suffer early on, but I think he's really serious about it around bowl three. He is a professional eater of hot and spicy food and probably has a bit higher tolerance than us mere mortals.  One bowl is enough for me. A bowl full is a lot of chili and I don't think I could fit more than one. Sadly, he couldn't beat the record of five bowls of Firebrand. He did tie, however, so congrats to him!

Joe Rogers has much more than just incredibly hot chili. You can get several levels of spice and I guarantee you'll find one to your liking. You can also get chili dogs, tamales and a few other items. Bring cash on your trip to Joe Rogers because they don't take plastic. They are open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Saturday.

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Entertainment | Food | Springfield

Man v. Food v. Something to Chew On

by Brandon October 7, 2009 02:40 AM


A few months ago, you may have heard of or read some of the local buzz about the Travel Channel's Man v. Food episode shot here, in our very own Springfield, Ill.

Filmed in July, the episode will air at 9 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 7, on channel 62 (Springfield/Comcast). The host, Adam Richman, will be chugging corn dogs at the Cozy Dog Drive-In, hammering down horseshoes at D'Arcy's Pint (join the group!), and feasting on five six bowls (maybe!) of Firebrand chili at Joe Roger's Chili Parlor. I've heard of the show, but haven't watched it before. My TiVo is ready to go, so I'm all set.

I'm writing about this not just to tell you about a show you may or may not have already planned on watching. There is another reason, and it has to do with how companies are either embracing or shunning online social media.

I received an e-mail today from someone at asking if I would post some information about the upcoming show here, on the blog. Room214, as it says in big letters on their site, is a social media agency. After a few minutes of clicking around their site, it seems they are an ad agency who draws in business for their clients by leveraging the almost countless supply of bloggers, Twitterers, Facebookers, etc. to spread the word in exchange for a little something. I was offered a Man v. Food T-shirt. Why me? Well, this blahg of mine says Springfield, Ill., all over it. I would imagine drumming up hometown excitement for a show or an event is part of what they do.

I'm posting this because I think it's interesting to see how individuals and corporations are either interacting with or reacting to the Internet. There are so many headlines these days of some company issuing C&D (cease and desist) letters (or worse) to other companies or individuals for doing something they didn't like online. I won't go into details or give case examples because you most likely already know what I'm talking about. These seem to end in online backlash and bad press for the bully-company. On the other hand, there are cases, such as this, where non-traditional approaches are being taken to advertising and human interaction. Companies are actually asking us to talk about them, post their content (mileage varies heavily in this aspect), remix or parody their content, and a slew of other things those companies I mentioned earlier would have your head for. I can imagine the old-school corporate types having their doubts about following this path. As a blogger, however, I can tell them it's welcomed and appreciated. Just don't screw it up for yourselves by pulling a 180 in the future. I know this is nothing new, but we're still at a point where the negative experiences with issues such as this are still outnumbering the positive ones.

As for Room214, I did a little research on them before deciding to post this. The e-mail was entirely out of the blue, after all, so I wanted to know a bit more about the company. It turns out Room214 had a little online snafu of its own not quite a year ago. Search for Room214 online to find out more, but to summarize, there was a Twitter incident brought to the masses in large part by  Kevin Rose involving the user and Details are a little sketchy with the passage of time, but, apparently, this Twitter user was fearing the loss of his account to A co-founder of responded - see the comments on the site - (video here, more here) and apologized for what became a mess out of a misunderstanding. Kudos to for handling it the right way. Just for that, I'll gladly post what you sent me about Man v. Food (P.S., size XL please smile_regular)

What is Travel Channel's Man v. Food?
Host Adam Richman sets out to travel the country in search of the best places to do some serious indulging. Adam's quest brings him to some of the greatest traditional food the nation can serve up, and he takes on some epic food challenges along the way. Watch the series to find out who wins when Man takes on Food.

Springfield Episode Details
Adam's first stop in Springfield is to Cozy Dog Drive-In, which is a historical diner on iconic Route 66. This place is literally the "home of the corn dog" as rumor has it they invented this tasty batter-covered hot dog. Adam gets to see the homemade invention the restaurant still uses to fry 'em up. The diner serves up over 500 cozy dogs every day and they look delicious!

Next up Adam visits D'Arcy's Pint for a Springfield specialty: the horseshoe. What the heck is a horseshoe? Only one of the best hangover foods around! It's an open-faced sandwich made with Texas toast, your favorite meat (hamburger is the most popular), a mound of crinkle fries, and homemade cheese sauce. D'Arcy's makes over 700 horseshoes a day in over 500 variations!

For the main challenge, Adam hits up Joe Rogers Chili Parlor to try the Firebrand Chili Challenge. This extra hot chili is 9x hotter than the normal chili they serve. Tens of thousands have tried to eat it, but only 2,000 have succeeded in finishing one bowl. Adam is upping the ante by trying to beat the current record of 5 bowls of this fire-hot food. Will he do it?

Tune-in Wednesday at 10 E/P to find out! In the meantime, check out this sneak peek video:

As far as these restaurants go, I've been to them all many times and love each one. After moving to Central Illinois, I was amazed that a meal like the horseshoe was not only socially acceptable but also loved. D'Arcy's 'shoes quickly made a believer out of me. Do your heart a favor, though, and go for the ponyshoe, the smaller version. I don't get out to the Cozy Dog much, but if you go there, try other things on their menu, too, instead of stuffing yourself entirely with delicious corn dogs. Their burgers are great. Lastly, I've had bowls of Firebrand (formerly "JR Special" . I don't know the story of that) many times, but not five bowls all at once. I just don't think I have the capacity. One bowl fills me up.

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Food | Entertainment | Springfield | The Blahg

The Washington Park Project - Intro

by Brandon October 6, 2009 12:43 AM


Most Springfielders are familiar with Washington Park, one of the city's most popular parks.

I first learned of the park in the spring of 2003, shortly after I moved to Springfield. Before coming to Central Illinois, I really hadn't been much of a park person. Other places I lived had parks, and I went to them occasionally for events, etc., but never just to enjoy the weather, the scenery, or to exercise. As the new guy in town, without any relatives or past friends close by, I became open to trying new things. Getting out to the park for a few laps after work and on the weekends became a new pastime.

Having lived here for several years now, my relationship with Washington Park has been on the outs. I've found many other things to fill my free time since then. I was recently re-acquainted with my old friend, however, with the purchase of a new DSLR camera earlier this year.

The park makes for an excellent place to practice photography. It's large, there are tons of plant life (obviously), park animals are everywhere, and there's the occasional large event. I don't take pictures of random strangers, though, because that just feels creepy . ducks and squirrels never seem to mind.

Where is all this leading, you may wonder? I was trying out some new digital camera toys in the park last month and noticed the first signs of fall. Some of the trees in the park already began to change from green to autumn colors. There aren't a lot of trees in my neighborhood, so it didn't really hit me summer was coming to an end until that time. I sat on a bench, snapping a photo of the Thomas Rees Carillon (pictured above), when I thought it would be neat to take the same photo of a spot in the park each week for a few months, detailing the gradual change from summer to winter.

I wouldn't doubt something like this has been done before in this very same park, but I wanted to try it myself. My plan is to take the same shot of the Carillon each weekend (give or take) until the leaves are gone and the park is snow-covered. Once the photo collection is complete, I'll make a movie of them to illustrate the transition.

I'll admit I'm not being too scientific about this. I haven't lugged along the tripod, so far, and my point of reference is what I see while sitting on that bench I mentioned (let's hope they don't decide to move it). There will be many things I can't necessarily control, either, like the lighting and weather conditions on the days when I have time to do this. Because this is a just-for-fun project, I don't think I'll necessarily have to go to extreme lengths to get the results I want. I'll chime in on the blog every now and then with an update. I'll share details regarding how I'm doing the project and what I've learned from it.

Below are a few of the beginning shots. The photo on the left is from Sept. 13 and the photo on the right is from Oct. 4. The lighting conditions on these days were different, but you can see a little less green in October's picture. It's hard to tell because of the sunlight, but if you look closely you can see what is green and what is turning. Hope you enjoy the project.

September 13 October 4


Springfield | Photography