What is it about competitive food challenges that can make normal, ordinary human beings go totally loco? It’s a very weird and popular pastime—both watching them and participating in them. And for some incredibly stalwart super-humans, it’s even a real-live career that has them traveling the country, setting and breaking records for just how much they can swallow.

And everywhere these professionals go, hundreds or even thousands of people gather to watch other people line up and eat truly insane amounts of food as quickly as possible. Sometimes they do it for cash and prizes and acclaim; sometimes, people just do it because they’re just the tiniest bit loco.

When a table full of people hunker down and cram massive amounts of food inside their ordinary-looking faces, we can’t help but stare, be amazed, and even get a little queasy—but that’s part of the fascination, isn’t it? Sometimes we think it looks so easy we could try it ourselves, and probably even win!

We’ve compiled a list of some of the craziest food challenges known to man, from all over the country. These are everything from celebrations of culinary traditions to the pure, bizarre spectacles that are at the heart of some of the most popular food challenges. Do you think you could tackle any of these?

1. The World Famous Nathan’s Hot-Dog Eating Contest: When you think “food competition,” a hot-dog eating contest is always the first you think about! And this one, held every July, is the biggest and best-known out there. In 2014, competitors will gather for the 99th year in a row to see who can eat more than last year’s winner, our hero Joey Chestnut. He’s got the world record, with 69 hot dogs (and buns!) down in 10 minutes. And if he wins again next year, it’ll be his eighth straight title in a row! And another world record, too.

2. World Kimchi Eating Championship: Kimchi is the national dish of Korea, and they eat a whole lot of it at the Chicago Korean festival every year. It’s a dish known for its health benefits, filled with spicy vegetables, though we can’t imagine that consuming a couple of gallons in one sitting can be super-healthy. But that doesn’t stop contestants from lining up to chow down as much as their stomachs can hold in just 8 minutes.

3. Stuffed Quahog Eating Contest: Have you ever heard of a quahog? We hadn’t either. Especially a stuffed one. It’s also known as a hard-shelled clam, and it’s one of Massachusetts’ most famous and delicious delicacies. Its delicacy doesn’t stop contestants from lining up to swallow the things whole. They’ve only got 90 seconds to get as many in their face as possible. Sound easy? Last year’s winner, Rich Rogers, made it through just seven of them.

4. Cheese Curd Festival: Mmm, cheese. Cheese is one of nature’s greatest gifts, we think. And Wisconsinites sure agree. That’s why they hold a Cheese Curd Festival every year. The festival wouldn’t be complete, of course, without the addition of a big and rowdy cheese-curd-eating contest! Competitors from 7 years of age to adults line up to see just how many curds they can handle, and the winners get a trophy, ten bucks, and the pride of accomplishment. Is it too much cheese? Check back with us after the festival.

5. The La Costeña "Feel the Heat" Jalapeño Eating Championship: How does anyone possibly live through this one? This jalapeno eating contest has got to the most painful of all of them. We love the spicy zing of jalepenos in our salsa but throwing back 275 of them, whole, in 8 minutes seems just a little bit loco to us. The prize? $6,250, most of which we’re guessing was spent on antacids.

Are we missing your favorite food competition? Add it in the comments below.