I have lived in Maryland since I was a kid. No, I wasn't born here; I was born in Iceland, and I then bounced around the states a bit before moving here. But I've lived on the state's Eastern Shore since I was about five or six years old.
I have been to countless Orioles games, eaten crabs and old bay, scrapple, and I've drank National Bohemian. I'm a Maryland guy, but I had never been to a Maryland Terrapins football game.
Sure, I have partied in College Park, and I have been to the Comcast Center to cover high school basketball, but I hadn't had the chance to take in a football game or tailgate at Byrd Stadium.
Then, a few months ago, I saw a FanShot on SB Nation's Maryland blog, Testudo Times:
ONE AND A HALF POUNDS OF CRAB DIP, CHEESE AND PRETZEL.
No longer did I want to go to Byrd Stadium to see a Terps game; I needed to get to Byrd stadium to devour Chessie, the crab beast.
So my mind was made up. I would travel to College Park on October 18 to watch the Terps take on the Iowa Hawkeyes and to go toe-to-toe with the Crab Beast.
I left my house around 9:30 am and made my way into College Park around 11:15 am. I didn't realize that parking was so scarce; cars were lined up on the highway and suddenly I was scrambling, looking for a place to park.
My friend Connor told me about a church that he usually parks at, but that was full. Luckily, I found a pay lot near the stadium for about $15, which was fine by me. I parked, and began my trek through the parking lots of drunken students and fans tailgating. I wanted to join them, but I was on a mission.
I made my way through the ticket line and went in search of my seat. I was in section three, which was right smack-dab in the middle of a sea of black and yellow colored jerseys - Iowa fans. The seat was good though, I was right on the 10-yard line, a few rows up from the field.
Instead of fellow Maryland fans witnessing my battle with Chessie, the Iowa fans would get the show instead.
Now, it was time to find the concession stand that sold the beast.
A stadium sign directed me to the other side of the stadium and then, I saw the window that would serve me the beast.
Yes, Chessie had its own booth, line, and a own concession lady who happily served me.
"Hi! Did you want the crab pretzel?"
"Yes, I will have one Chessie."
Chessie was $17.50 and I bought water to help wash it down. I figured that I would have to wait at least five minutes to receive my pretzel, cheese and crab dip combo, but a small pizza box was handed to me in less than a minute.
I wondered, did they pre-make this?
According to the lady working, they usually don't, but did on this day because of the big crowds they expected on homecoming. So, they pre-made a bunch of them and then heated them up as orders were made. Last week, according to her, lines for the beast were crazy and there was an hour wait.
I grabbed the box but didn't peak inside. This would have to be something I unveiled at my seat.
Inside the box was the beast, laying on wax paper that looked like the Maryland flag (plus one point for presentation). Inside the box was also a plastic knife, which I though was weird because it wasn't accompanied by a fork. It didn't matter though, plastic cutlery would be ineffective on the beast; I would have to use my hands.
The first bite was awesome. The crab dip and pretzel was still warm, and there was just the right amount of old bay on it. I enjoyed it, and made my way through the first quarter of it with ease.
There were some parts that didn't have as much crab dip as others though, but the middle of the pretzel had a bunch of it, so I used that as a dipping tool for the pretzel bits that lacked dip and cheese.
Once I got about halfway through though, the beast started cooling down, and the dough was getting tougher while the crab dip was getting cold. I also noticed an unbalanced amount of old bay throughout each bite; some with what seemed like a half of a can, some with none at all.
Still, the beast was delicious. Until I got about three quarters through, when its effects started to set in and I hit a wall.
An Iowa fan near me looked over and said, "you're going to share right?"
"Probably not," I said with a laugh.
But I wasn't kidding, I was completely serious. This was my food, my battle and my beast. The Terps would beat Iowa and I was going to beat Chessie - by myself.
I kept working at it. The sun came out and felt like it was right over my head, so as I was chomping away at the beast, the sun light combined with my full stomach made me hot and uncomfortable.
No matter. This is what I spent five bucks on water for.
Then I hit my second wall. I had two logs of pretzel remaining and I was absolutely stuffed. I had two choices:
1. Quit now.
2. Eat the rest, feel like a champion, but possibly suffer and/or throw up later.
The latter was really the only realistic option. Pain is temporary, glory is forever.
Suddenly, I was at my last bite. I had to document it.
I felt like a champion, but I also felt the most terrible.
After finishing Chessie I immediately got up, disposed of the evidence (the box) and took a few laps around the stadium.
It was finished, but the effects of being full of pretzel and crab dip started to set in, and I was getting sleepy. I kept walking around the stadium and kept drinking water and I started feeling normal once again, but I was still full; I didn't eat anything else for the rest of the day.
Around halftime, I wandered back over to the stand serving Chessie and the line was packed. Those people weren't getting their small pizza boxes full of delicious crab dip and pretzel in a minute. Looks like I made the right decision to get mine early.
The game was awesome, and the first half of Chessie was awesome too, but the second half of the beast was tough and cold. The sign above the stand serving it says that the beast serves four, which sounds about right. I wouldn't advise anyone to try to eat it on their own, unless of course, you're looking for a challenge.