Cortland City Police Sgt. Seth Rowland looked down the table toward Deputy Chief Paul Sandy and put his ninth piece of chocolate in his mouth. Sandy looked at him then turned and began eating honey. Sandy was done.
Rowland picked up the little tray with three chocolate pieces left and tossed them all into his mouth, sweat rolling down his face.
He had won.
“I knew my partner over there was bound and determined to beat me,” Sandy said looking at Rowland, who guzzled down milk after the challenge was over, followed by whipped cream and ice cream.
“I hope I can make it to work tomorrow,” Rowland said.
Sandy and Rowland were two of six Cortland City Police officers who participated in the World’s Hottest Chocolate Challenge to raise funds for Office of Community Oriented Policing events, including Shop with a Cop and Coffee with a Cop.
They set a goal of $1,000 in December. They raised $1,400.
The other four participants:
- Police Chief F. Michael Catalano.
- Sgt. Anthony Natoli.
- Officer Patrick O’Donnell.
- Officer Jesse Abbott.
The chocolate is rated at 9 million Scoville units, according to the product’s description, which is “900 times hotter than a jalapeno.” It’s about four times hotter than the Carolina Reaper, the world’s hottest pepper.
The officers each had to eat a piece of chocolate about the size of dime and then wait a minute before eating another piece. They could not drink milk, eat crackers, pudding or anything else or they were disqualified.
The first two out were Natoli and Catalano, followed by Abbott — who struggled with a canker sore during the contest.
“My legs are shaking. I can’t even talk right now, I don’t know how he can,” Abbott said, looking at Rowland, sweat dripping down his face.
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Rowland said he hadn’t planned on eating the last three pieces but he had to show up Sandy.
“It was intense, my stomach’s churning” Rowland said sniffling and continuing to spoon ice cream into his mouth.
Rowland, who has been tased six times, said he kind of likes the torture.
His kids Kristin and Josh, both 16, stood in the front row watching their dad.
“It was funny,” Josh said, noting he was proud of his dad.
Sandy said he probably could’ve kept going but he stood up while eating his eighth piece and could feel his stomach and lungs burning. He had to throw in the towel.
While Sandy might not have finished all the 12 pieces, he said he would be willing to do it again — for the right cause.
If you’re wondering though — Sandy’s signature mustache survived unsinged.
“What’s a little pain and discomfort when you can bring a smile to a kids face?” Sandy said. “There are people who go through a lot worse every day.”
However, there is at least one challenge Sandy isn’t up for.
In May, to celebrate Mother’s Day, Abbott said he and some other fellow cops will participate in a labor simulator.
After Monday’s event, Abbott also sold bracelets for $5 apiece to help raise funds for a man who played lacrosse with Abbott’s son in high school and was diagnosed with leukemia while training to become a Marine.