“It smells like skunk,” said one parent when the mushrooms, which were soaked in pumpkin spice tea, were served Friday at Nancy Carson Library in North Augusta.
The mushroom dish was just one of the food concoctions created for Food Fear Factor. Others had monikers such as preserved stink bugs, sea creature tentacles and monster vomit.
The names created for everyday foods such as Wasabi peas, mixed soups and seaweed did generate some stink faces and pinched noses, but they didn’t keep most contestants from eating the items.
“This is good,” said Meghan, 12, after eating ham, pineapple and rice baby food before being taken out by the mushrooms. Andrew Belanger, 9, agreed that the mushrooms were one of the grosser things they had to eat. But overall he enjoyed the food.
“I faced my fear!” he shouted after eating Brussels spouts, which carried the “monster vomit” moniker.
Before being served “tentacles from unknown sea creatures,” Andrew said he was trying to ignore the made-up food names so that they wouldn’t psych him out.
The mushroom round shrank the number of contestants from 12 to the final eight, ranging in ages from 8 to 18.
Renee Reel, the children’s library assistant, brought out a blender for the final round, making a lumpy brown smoothie out of a variety of the foods eaten in previous rounds, including gorgonzola cheese, cactus juice and anchovy oil.
Children were timed and whoever drank the mixture first – and didn’t vomit – was the winner.
“It was kind of nasty,” said 11-year-old Enizia Kelly, who won the contest. “I held my breath and nose so I wouldn’t taste it.”
For stomaching all of the food, Enizia won a $10 gift card to McDonald’s, which she said she planned to use right after the contest.
Reel said participants had “iron stomachs” and that next year she is going to have to step it up to gross out the children.