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Big Kahuna 1, Challengers 0
Pie eating contestants Matt Whetstine, let, and Chuck Jines react after the Big Kahuna is placed in front of them. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Matt Whetstine and Chuck Jines had an hour.

They had sixty minutes to tackle a challenge that every college student has, at one point, said that they could handle on their own.

And they had one another in their pursuit to make Manteca history.

But in the end, The Big Kahuna – a 30-inch pizza that weighed in at more than 15 pounds – was too much for the two amateur eaters to handle Friday night at 8 Buck Pizza Truck.

It was too much dough – almost eight pounds worth. It was too much sauce – more than 20 ounces were slathered on. There were too many toppings – more than three pounds of meat and produce were piled high on the massive pie before it went into the oven.

It was the first time that owner Glenn Takeda had presented the challenge to any of his customers. Those that finish the entire, heaping pizza earn a free large pie-a-month for a year, get their picture on the wall and get a free T-shirt.

Jines and Whetstine will still see their mugs on the wall when they recover enough to come back in. But they’ll be the first two faces on the “Wall of Shame” section – a lifelong reminder that they didn’t even finish half.

“The Big Kahuna won tonight,” Takeda said. “It didn’t turn out so well for them.”

Outcomes aside, the contest was a chance for the relatively new pizza restaurant – which opened back in June – to become the talk of the town while the time ticked off of the clock.

Friends and family members packed into the quaint quarters on the corner of Louise and Cottage Avenues and waited for Takeda to bring out the pizza on a specially-made platter. It took more than 20-minutes to put all of the toppings together. The pizza barely fit past the oven doors.

Jines said he had never before tackled any sort of an eating competition, but knew he could take out a large pizza by himself given enough time. Whether he and a co-worker could handle one this large, however, remained to be seen.

“They’ve got good pizza here, so we thought we’d try it,” he said. “I feel good about our chances.”

The restaurant with a unique name actually did start out with a mobile truck that the owners – Takeda is from Sacramento – intended on using during local events. But not long after purchasing it the motor blew up. And if that weren’t enough it was stolen from where it was parked in Stockton not too much later.

Ever since they’ve been focusing on becoming a neighborhood pizza parlor, and hope that generating a buzz like the one that swept through their customer base on Friday night will help expand their reach beyond the locals that have made it part of their regular lineup.

“It’s something fun to do. We didn’t expect to see this kind of a turnout,” Takeda said. “Hopefully we can find somebody that’s able to do it.”

The cost of the pizza, for those who can’t finish it within the allotted time, is $55.