The most brutal sporting event this past weekend wasn't the Super Bowl (suck it, Pats), the Lingerie Bowl (sexy won; dignity lost), the Puppy Bowl (they're all winners) or even the Wing Bowl (again, dignity lost but go Kobayashi!). It was the Guac Bowl, an annual ode to the creative challenges of sculpting in guacamole.
Held every year on Super Bowl Sunday, it's a private party with a large public following thanks to stunning entries like "Guac Solo," a life-sized replica of Han Solo encased in guacamole instead of carbonite. Last year's most jaw-dropping entry was GWAR-camole, featuring a mannequin of thrash-metal bassist Beefcake the Mighty dressed in Roman gladiator attire and spitting guacamole out of his mouth. Guac Bowl is nothing if not classy.
It's worth noting that both entries won the Icarus Award, the prize awarded to the guacamole that flies closest to the sun but fails most spectacularly. That's why we love Guac Bowl.
Past Guac Bowls have popularized alcoholic guacs, guac smoothies, frozen guacs and more. This year's trend was dessert guacs. Angela Park's "A Box of Guaclates" featured individual avocado fudge treats with candied onions, candied tomatoes and candied cilantro. The Desowitz family created a chocolate-avocado dip, "Guaclate." (Neither of them won.)
Stunners at this year's event included Brandon Oropallo's "Guack." An enormous reproduction of a classic Double Dare physical challenge where contestants had to shove their arm up a giant nose to dig out a flag was reimagined with, you guessed it, guacamole-filled nostrils. (It was also a runner-up for this year's Icarus Award.)
Guac Solo creator Rob Saccenti won third place in Presentation for "The Guacket Launcher," a compressed-air-powered rifle that shot guacamole across the yard onto a tortilla chip at the center of a target. It also splattered guac everywhere, so the lower half of the patio had to be tarped.
Some guacamoles were even edible. Christine Landry became Guac Bowl's first five-time champion by winning the Alternative Guac category with "Guac Corn," a popcorn that miraculously managed to include all the classic ingredients of guacamole in powdered form. Take that, Grant Achatz.
Guac Bowl host and chief instigator Adam Pava won the Icarus Award with "Guacquarium," which featured a Guac Bowl first: living animals. Thirty goldfish and minnows swam in the outer layer of a homemade aquarium-within-an-aquarium, to create the illusion that they were swimming in guacamole, which was on the inside layer. The guac itself was made with dried anchovies. "The final effect was something like a fish graveyard in a horror movie," Pava says. "Also, the salty dried anchovies that I found at the Korean store made it taste like an actual aquarium, which is ... authentic? No, disgusting."
Notable entries included beer-battered, deep-fried balls of guac wrapped in bacon, a guacamole tribute to singer Sarah McLachlan, guacamole infused with liquid smoke, a chorizo and jalapeño guac pizza and even some regular guacamoles made with only avocados, onions, tomatoes and lime juice.
This year's Guac Bowl used 118 avocados -- that's eight less than last year and 91 less than two years ago.
1st place: "Guack" by Brandon Oropallo
2nd place: "Sarah McGuaclin" by Kara Oropallo
3rd place: "The Guacket Launcher" by Rob Saccenti
BEST ALTERNATIVE GUAC
1st place: "Guac Corn" by Christine Landry and Robert Bernal
2nd place: "Guaco Pizza" by Steve Tavernia
3rd place (tie): "Let Them Eat Guac" by Tim, Danielle and Henry McKeon
3rd place (tie): "Guac Balls" by Jim Sutherland
3rd place (tie): "Smokey the Guac" by Rob Wilson and Emily Bloom
BEST TRADITIONAL GUAC
1st place: "Chi-Guac-tle" by Dave Allen and Lauren Edson
2nd place (tie): "30 Guac" by Julie Halton
2nd place (tie): "Roasted Garlic and Corn Guac" by Tom and Ameake Owens
THE ICARUS AWARD
1st place: "The Guacquarium" by Adam Pava
2nd place: "Guack" by Brandon Oropallo
3rd place (tie): "Guacket Launcher" by Rob Saccenti
Honestly, I have no idea how the Guacket Launcher didn't win the Icarus. Maybe it was too awesome, and people didn't want to give it the "loser" award. Maybe it wasn't terrible enough, despite the fact that it splattered guac all over your chip and the patio. Stuck in a void between amazing and horrific, the Guacket Launcher split its votes and ended up placing in two categories but taking home zero trophies. But it did provide hours of entertainment after most people went home, as we loaded it with whatever we could think of -- beer, carrots, orange juice -- and shot at each other's faces. See, that's what you miss out on when you leave early.