There are few creatures on earth that are more resilient than cockroaches. They've survived bait traps, sprays, powders and countless other poisons aimed at their extinction. But cockroaches don't stand a chance when pitted against Fear Factor contestants determined to win the $50,000 prize.
Of all the food stunts we've done on the show, eating live cockroaches definitely ranks among the grossest. We're not just talking about those little brown things that scurry around the kitchen - we're talking about giant Madagascar hissing cockroaches.
Madagascars are pretty nasty looking creatures. They're about two inches long with spindly legs, a hard shell, and two antennae that are constantly moving. And, yes, they do actually hiss when you try to grab them.
Fortunately, we didn't have to go all the way to Madagascar to find what we were looking for. We placed a call to Johnny Tong, a local sideshow performer with a home menagerie of scorpions, tarantulas, and other creepy critters that he uses in his act. He'd been breeding Madagascars for a while and had managed to build up quite a brood.
Johnny brought a few Madagascars to the Fear Factor offices and proceeded to demonstrate how he eats them live in his act. To our utter disgust, he swallowed down five of them in a row. But it turns out that was a mere appetizer for Johnny, who has eaten as many as 10 of them in one sitting.
Johnny, God bless him, is admittedly a bit of a freak. But if he could eat 10 of them, surely our contestants would each be able to eat five of these guys. We came up with a shuffleboard game to determine how many Madagascars each contestant would eat. If they landed their disc in the right spot, they wouldn't have to eat any of them. But if they landed in the wrong spot, they could eat as many as five.
We won't spoil the fun, but let's just say that our contestants weren't the best shuffleboard players we've ever seen. Come to think of it, they weren't the smoothest cockroach eaters we've ever seen, either.
"It tastes nasty," recalled one contestant who decided to quit midway
through the stunt. "When I bit it in half it was still moving...and I knew it
was all over."