Milk chugging

A gallon of milk

Milk chugging, or the gallon challenge, is the process of consuming a large amount of milk within a set period of time. Although there are variations in procedure, the general parameters are that a person is given 60 minutes to drink one US gallon (3.8 l; 0.83 imp gal) of whole milk without vomiting. A gallon is a common size of milk container in the United States.


The first recorded occurrences of competitive milk chugging[1] date back to early 1997[2][3] where there are several explanations for the origins of the challenge. It certainly existed prior to that, however. American baseball pitcher Bill Lee mentioned the challenge in his autobiography The Wrong Stuff as one of the activities that relief pitchers used to pass the time in the bullpen as far back as the late 1960s. Undoubtedly, the most highly publicized competition was one that was featured in episode five of season two of the American television series Jackass,[4] where Dave England and Ehren McGhehey were featured in a gallon challenge segment. Filmed in Portland, Oregon in 2000, contestants were to consume one gallon of milk in an hour in a variety of flavors, which resulted in each participant vomiting. In 1999 North Carolina legislators started a yearly milk drinking contest to promote the dairy industry.[5]

Milk chugging has gained popularity[6] and a following in some countries, especially the United States. The fact that it is often presented as being "impossible",[4] as well as media coverage of the challenge,[4] may have led to the appeal among high school and college students,[7][8] as well as celebrities.[9]

Medical explanation

The primary difficulty in completing the challenge lies in the limited capacity of the stomach. Generally, the stomach can hold only half a gallon. Stretch receptors in the organ sense when its limit is reached, triggering a vomit reflex that swiftly empties the stomach. Moreover, drinking a gallon of milk is more difficult than drinking a gallon of water. The fat and protein in milk each inhibit the stomach from releasing its contents into the small intestine, forcing more of the liquid to remain in the stomach.[4]

It is often claimed that the difficulty is related to lactose intolerance: the inability of many people to metabolize lactose, a major component of milk. Sarah Ash, an associate professor of nutrition at North Carolina State University, finds this theory unlikely, as the symptoms of lactose intolerance occur in the large intestine, rather than the stomach.[4]

At a company party, a Utah man experienced aspiration pneumonia after drinking a quart of eggnog in 12 seconds.[10]


There are three universal rules in what has been called the "gallon challenge", although some minor variations may exist.

Although in almost all cases the challenge is set for one gallon,[7] in some cases a different amount is used, such 6 US pints (2.8 l; 5.0 imp pt).[13] Other variations of the challenge require that the contestant eat nothing during the hour of ingestion,[11] and specify that the type of milk chosen must have at least a 2% fat content.[11]


Many high school and college students hold their own challenges: Phi Delta Tau, at the Central College in Pella, Iowa have traditionally hosted an annual gallon challenge, four Rutgers fraternities host challenges for fundraisers,[14] some MIT students celebrated the 4th of July with a challenge,[15] Sigma Phi Epsilon at Carnegie Mellon University host their Annual Gallon Challenge on campus, as well as many other official and unofficial gallon challenges.[16] In 2008, several members of a fraternity at Arizona State University participated in a "milk-chug" were arrested for causing a car accident after vomiting into traffic below the bridge they were competing on.[17]

Peter Ubriaco founded the non-profit Gallon Challenge Foundation in 2004, formalizing a local gallon challenge contest held since 2000. The organization raised donations during the yearly challenge for food and health related organizations; after their 2006 challenge in held in New York City,[18] they donated to the Food Allergy Initiative,[19] a non-profit organization that raises awareness and funds for the treatment and cure of food allergies.

The act of milk-chugging has also been the centerpiece for a photographer and artists' show in 2005, where he featured an image entitled "Milk Chuggers", and a video called "the Milk Chugger", where he films himself drinking milk until he vomits.[1] In 2009, Jimmy Fallon held a milk chugging contest on NBC's Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, with guests Helio Castroneves, Ryan Briscoe and Dario Franchitti.[9] On the broadcast, Fallon wore a rain poncho and drank chocolate milk, while the drivers drank regular milk. Also in 2009,[20] and again in 2010, North Carolina members of the General Assembly, which included Bob Atwater, William Brisson, Andrew Brock, Dewey Hill, Joe Sam Queen and Arthur Williams,[21] competed in a milk-chugging contest, held at North Portico of the Legislative Building in Raleigh,[20] to raise awareness in the dairy industry.[22] Winners of the contest would receive money to donate to a charity of their choice.[13] In 2012, it was a major part of the plot in the Regular Show episode "Guy's Night".

See also


  1. 1 2 O'Sullivan, Michael (2005-06-10). "Illicit Encounters at Strand on Volta". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-07-13.
  2. (2005-2007). "History of the Annual Gallon Challenge." Gallon Challenge Foundation. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
  3. "History." the GALLON CHALLENGE. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Young, Luke (2006-08-29). "Chugging for glory". Technician. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
  6. Blumenfeld, Amir (2006). "Food, Health, and Laundry: Freshman Fifteen." The CollegeHumor guide to college: selling kidneys for beer money, sleeping with your professors, majoring in communications, and other really good ideas. Retrieved 2010-07-13.
  7. 1 2 Slaughter, Shannon (2010-04-30). "Wonderful Wednesday milk-chugging contest concludes winnerless." Milligan College: The Stampede. Retrieved 2010-07-13
  8. Rockey, Alicia (2009-04-16) "Feature Photo: Milk Chug Challenge." The Daily Eastern News. Retrieved 2010-07-13
  9. 1 2 Castroneves Racing PR (2009-05-19). "Milk chugging contest with Jimmy Fallon" Helio Castroneves. Retrieved 2010-07-13
  11. 1 2 3 4 5 Atkinson, Nat (2006). "Rules." MilkGallon: The Home of The Gallon Challenge. Retrieved 2010-07-12
  12. Wright, Andrew (2001-04). "What is the Challenge?" The Gallon Challenge. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
  13. 1 2 Dairy Herd news source (2010-07-01). "Milk-chugging for charity." Dairy Herd. Retrieved 2010-07-13
  14. Yu, Margaret. "Four fraternities raise funds for Chi Fest trophy". The Daily Targum. 19 April 2009. Retrieved 13 July 2010.
  15. Fan, Jingyun. "Accepting the 'Challenge': Students chug milk to celebrate Fourth". MIT: The Tech Online Edition. 7 July 2010. Retrieved 13 July 2010.
  16. Bagnas, Jessielynn and Barberena, Luis. "Gallon Challenge! Students hold milk chugging contest to break stress". The Norwich Guidon. 30 October 2003. Retrieved on 13 July 2013.
  17. Halverstadt, Lisa. "ASU police arrest 9 in 'milk chug' challenge". The Arizona Republic. 3 October 2008. Retrieved 2010-07-13.
  18. Benners, Ashley. "To chug or not to chug, that is the question". The Appalachian. 28 September 2006. Retrieved 13 July 2010.
  19. "The 6th Annual Gallon Challenge is over". Gallon Challenge Foundation. 2005-2007. Retrieved 13 July 2010.
  20. 1 2 Hinnant, Jim. "Milk-Chugging contest". PACC-10 TV News. 10 July 2009. Retrieved 13 July 2010.
  21. Hensch, Mark. "Milk Chugging". The News & Observer. 30 June 2010. Retrieved 13 July 2010.
  22. "Annual Milk-Chugging Contest To Be Held In Raleigh". WXII12. 28 June 2010. Retrieved 13 July 2010.
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