The Truth About Fear Factor's Cringe-Worthy Pizza Challenge

If you've ever eaten something gross and said to a friend, "Oh dude, this is disgusting! You gotta' try it," then you might understand why Fear Factor's pizza challenge is something that someone would want to watch. Community in disgust, togetherness in filth, sympathy in suffering, and the triumph of watching a mere mortal glug down handcrafted, artisanal "cow-bile, coagulated blood paste, rotten cheese, red worms, and fish eyes" (per So Yummy): It's basically more savage than watching someone get eviscerated in Emperor Vespasian's Colosseum. 

Riding on the success of cousin shows like MTV's JackassFear Factor lived and died a number of times over the years, first from 2001 to 2006 on NBC, when it was canceled for low ratings, before being brought back under pre-podcast Joe Rogan in 2011, and then Ludacris in 2017, per Life and Style Magazine. Over the show's lifetime, its contestants gnawed on, as Mashed reminds us, horse rectums, buffalo testicles, leeches sucked off partner's bodies, rats blended into a smoothie (yes, for real), spiders of various kinds, goat milk sucked from a goat's udder, a cake made with alligator eyeballs, actual roadkill, and the menu item that got the series canned: a pint-and-a-half of donkey semen.

Were the participants merely insane? What early childhood sense of self-loathing were they trying to purge? Was it all worth the possibility of winning $50,000? We may never know. But one thing is for sure: It should be no shock at all if it makes a human sick.

Surprise: Wormy, bloody, rotten pizza is disgusting

Seriously, it's kind of weird and disturbing how much of Fear Factor was built around the schadenfreude derived from watching people simply eat gross things. What about all the lying down in snake pits, or lying down in a body bag full of insects in a morgue drawer, or lying down in a box of chicken feet and having rats poured on top of you? Yeah, those were things, too, as WatchMojo reported on Vocal Media. It's almost like the possibility of dying by eating indigestible repulsiveness is more riveting than the possibility of dying while tossing a flare onto a floating fueling station while hanging from a net hanging from a helicopter (an homage to Michael Bay?).

But the pizza thing, right? Feel free to watch it on YouTube if vomitous, gagging sounds don't make you sympathy hurl. From season 3, episode 17, "Pizza Pizza" was the second of three stunts performed by contestants. As was typical, the other stunts were more like American Ninja Warrior meets Houdini by way of Jigsaw from the Saw franchise: running on a wheel spinning above the ground and finding keys to escape chains while submerged underwater, per IMDb. For the pizza part, the contestants tossed pizza trays into sauce pots to randomly choose their toppings — eyes, worms, etc. — in mockery of brick ovens and Italian-Americans everywhere. After they chowed down, we're sure they never felt the same about a meat lover's pie again.