The Milk Bet lives!

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2005/08/25 15:25 -07:00, original URI:

They are never going to learn this one.

Marlins suspend batboy for milk-drinking dare

I'll ignore the suspension issue and talk about the "milk bet" here.

Now this particular bet has been around for a long time. I first heard about it when I was working for the Access team, probably around eight years ago.

Heath, a fellow developer on the team with an office right next door to mine, was certain that he could drink a gallon of milk in an hour without throwing up. He went to CalTech and because of this had a very logical way of thinking this through. He could easily drink one of those one pint milk containers in just a few minutes. So the gallon could be polished off easily since it really is just eight of those one pint containers.

(for those outside the US, there are four quarts to a gallon and two pints to a quart!)

And he had a whole hour to do it, so he could take his time and make it with no problem, right?

Well, actually, it is wrong.

Fellow developer Nicholas Shulman volunteered the explanation for why the bet is never won as Heath was running to the restroom to avoid throwing up in the conference room to which we had all adjourned.

"A stomach," Nick explained with the just the right inflection for irony, "is about a half a gallon."

Milk needs time in the stomach to be broken down before it can go on -- it does a body good, but it needs a little time to do that good. And there is simply no way to break the milk down fast enough to take in a full gallon in an hour. If you try to do so, your body will rebel and if you try and force the issue, your stomach will settle the argument for you.

Perhaps some future CalTech or MIT student who has read this blog will either refuse the bet, or anticipatorily buy something that will break down the milk and drink a bunch of that right before the bet starts.

(via Spencer)

# Mike Dunn on Thursday, August 25, 2005 8:15 PM:

1 gallon is approx. 4 lit(er|re)s for our SI-speaking friends. :)

# Joe Chung on Thursday, August 25, 2005 10:56 PM:

What if you dehydrated the milk first? ;)

# Sushant Bhatia on Friday, August 26, 2005 2:46 AM:

I drink a gallon of chocolate milk a day....does that count :-)

# CornedBee on Friday, August 26, 2005 8:22 AM:

Funny story. Only:

> (for those outside the US, there are four quarts to a gallon and two pints to a quart!)

Given that you mention in the line above that there are eight pints to a galleon, that must be the most useless explanation for "those outside the US" I've ever seen. You've added no new information except introducing yet another mysterious unit, the quart.
Thanks to Mike Dunn for offering something that actually helps.

# Jeff on Friday, August 26, 2005 8:29 AM:

Three of my friends did attempted this in college. In addition to the hour time limit there was the incentive to be the first one done. We made a big production of it in the dorm hall and we were prepared with 2 large trashcans. One of the three actually quit before reaching the point of no return, drank about two thirds of the gallon. The other two finished their gallons but not before emptying their stomachs a few times. I'm not sure about the wisdom of recording it all on VHS but the tape is still a part of my collection.

# Michael on Friday, August 26, 2005 10:11 AM:

CornedBee, despite you're obvious superiority to the rest of us, take a breather before you post. It doesn't matter how many SI units a gallon is. He was merely trying to put gallons and pints in perspective so that the pint reference makes sense. 1 equals 8. I don't think it was his intention to give the SI world a means of exact quantification.

A gallon is 1 unit. A pint is 0.125 units. A stomach is 0.5 units. All the information needed to enjoy the post is in there.

I don't mean to feed the flames... Like CornedBee, sometimes I don't know when to shut up.

Thanks for the post, Kaplan.

# Michael S. Kaplan on Friday, August 26, 2005 10:47 AM:

Sushant -- if you can do it in an hour it would count. :-)

CornedBee -- Michael has the right idea here -- every unit has been defined well enough to limp along....

Jeff -- I believe Heath's adventure was taped. :-)

# CornedBee on Friday, August 26, 2005 12:12 PM:

I'm sorry I came across so harsh - I honestly didn't mean to.

Neither do I have a problem with the units per se. I just meant to point out that the remark was about as helpful as if I invented my country (CornedCountry) and my own units (CornedQuantity) and then said:

"1 CQ, that's easy, that's about 8 of those VeryCornedQuantity packs.

(For those outside the CC, there are four QuiteCornedQuantities to a CornedQuantity and two VeryCornedQuantities to a QuiteCornedQuantity.)"

What have you learned from the remark that wasn't already in the first sentence? Only that there's yet another unit somewhere between CQ and VCQ.
Which is not helpful.

The "most useless" was harsh - nevertheless, it's a simple objective fact. (But then, I haven't seen the phrase often.)

So, my apologies if you feel slighted, but I stand by my core point. Which is in no way meant to devalue the comical or informational value of the post.

Oh, and Michael, where do you get the idea that I'm superior?

# CornedBee on Friday, August 26, 2005 12:13 PM:

One more, just to clarify. It was a question of redundancy, not of lack of information.

# Eric Lippert on Friday, August 26, 2005 12:46 PM:

Indeed, I was there that fateful day, though I no longer have the photos to prove it.

The milk bet specifically outlaws "bile doping" -- no eating powdered bile to try and increase the rate of fat breakdown. And it has to be at least 2% milk too. The reason its so hard is because the sphincter at the bottom of the stomach closes up if there is undigested fat in the stomach.

I've been present at three or four milk bet attempts and I can report that it is in fact humanly possible. There's a guy named Andy on the search team who won the milk bet; he's a big guy.

# Michael S. Kaplan on Friday, August 26, 2005 2:51 PM:

Hey Eric -- yes, it is certainly against the whole spitit of the bet, but I would imagine that there are those who would not hesitate to stoop to that level. :-)

Ah, I never thought about what if someone's stomach was big enough to fit that much milk....

# Mark Kola on Friday, August 26, 2005 5:41 PM:

Today I was listening to my morning sports talk show "Tony D and Pappy" AM 1300. They were discussing this same topic, and one made the same bet with water. Pappy got through just over a half gallon then quit when a caller mentioned all the symptoms of "Water Poisoning".

# Richard on Thursday, September 01, 2005 6:02 AM:

> (for those outside the US, there are four quarts to a gallon and two pints to a quart!)

Which is also true outside the US (albeit we rarely use quarts as a measure).

What is different is that a US-Pint in only 16 fluid oz., rather than the imperial pint's 20fl-oz.

Thus a US gallon is about 3.5 litres, while an Imperial gallon in 4.5 litres.

See for more information.

So the bet is not quite as adventurous (for want of a better term) as I immediately thought.

# ksd316 on Thursday, September 01, 2005 12:33 PM:

I drank a gallon of milk in less than 4 mintues and didn't puke. It was a bet, I took at work, the guys even went and bought me the milk. I have plenty of witnesses if no one believe me. I live in the Zanesville Ohio, US.

# Michael S. Kaplan on Thursday, September 01, 2005 2:33 PM:

I think most of us are going to be stay a little skeptical on this one, sorry!

# VaesBOT on Friday, September 02, 2005 3:39 AM:

Funny thing, I checked all of your measurments on google, and all of you were right.

Try this though, in google, type "convert 1 pound to kg" and the first search result is "1 pound = 0.45359237 kilograms". Then type "convert 1 pound to $" and result is "1 British pound = 1.8127 US$".

Unfortunately Google won't convert 1 pounds to 1 gallon of milk, but the second result of a search for "what is the weight of one gallon of water" states "1 gallon of water equals 8.33 lbs".

Assuming that one gallon of milk weighs the same as one gallon of water, a gallon of milk should cost "1 gallon * 8.33 pounds/gallon * 1.81 $US / pound = (result from google) $15.07 in England.

Milk is much cheaper in the US. I love google, haha.

# Richard on Friday, September 02, 2005 10:38 AM:

>Assuming that one gallon of milk weighs the same as
> one gallon of water, a gallon of milk should
> cost "1 gallon * 8.33 pounds/gallon * 1.81 $US /
> pound = (result from google) $15.07 in England.

No, also from Google:

"1 gallon in litre" => "1 US gallon = 3.7854118 litre"

"1 imperial gallon in litre" => " Imperial gallon = 4.54609188 litre"

"4.5459 kg in pounds" => "4.5459 kilograms = 10.021994 pounds"

So your off in pounds to start with.

However I know that a typical price for a pint (20fl-oz) is 0.30p, thus Imperial Gallon less than £2.40 (given you pay less for larger bottles).

So unless the GBP:USD rate gets seriously worse...

PS. Friday afternoon, go figure.
PPS. That reminds me of something else to get on my way home...

# David Jost on Saturday, September 03, 2005 11:38 AM:

This is funny. I have tried to drink it twice, and one time stopped one cup away and the other threw up 2 cups away. Needless to say, these are both amply more than half a gallon. By stopped, by the way, I meant didn't throw up, but stopped willingly. Point is, clearly my stomach can hold more than 1/2 a gallon and I can keep it there. The other time I made some major mistakes, and the circumstances were rather bizzare. By the way, my parents have to ration milk on me to a gallon every 3 days because I love it so much. Anyway, I'm trying again today to drink a gallon in an hour and never throw it up. Wish me luck!

# amber0690 on Wednesday, September 14, 2005 7:53 PM:

ksd316 did drink a gallon of milk in 4 minutes, I was there and saw the whole thing, he would not make that up.

# Michael S. Kaplan on Wednesday, September 14, 2005 8:05 PM:

Sorry, when anonymous people make unverified claims of impossible events, common sense requires skepticism.

When anonymous witnesses attest to those things, the skepticism can only increase, not decrease.

# CodyReynolds on Wednesday, September 14, 2005 10:13 PM:

Well, I did not witness ksd's claim, but I must say, he is a very large man(not to mention honorable), and a previous claim by 'EricLippert' says that the man that ''won the bet'' was a big guy.

And to CornedBee... It doesn't matter what the conversion is at all... The guy said he easily drank a pint in a few minutes... Then to clarify he said there are 8 pints in a gallon, the unit of the bet. So it doesn't matter to anybody what what is, if you made up your own system all you would have to do is say how many of what you were drinking were in a gallon... Like if you say you drank 8 VeryCornedQuantity's, you'd just have to say 8 equals a gallon, and there'd be no confusion. That's just my take on it.

And to MichKap, I might be another anonymous person, but hey, take it how you will.

# John Gronewald on Monday, October 03, 2005 11:34 PM:

On Saturday, October 1st, in a Hy-Vee (grocery store) I successfully drank a gallon of 1% milk in 7 minutes. I have 10 witnesses, and I was able to keep the milk down. This is the second time I have drank a gallon of milk in under an hour, my first gallon was of 2% last year in 59 minutes and 45 seconds without throwing up. Any comments or want to say awesome job, email me at

# Michael S. Kaplan on Monday, October 03, 2005 11:58 PM:

I have to ask two personal questions -- what i your height and how much do you weigh?

# John Gronewald on Tuesday, October 04, 2005 3:24 PM:

I am 6'1" and weight about 250. I am not fat, but I am big.

# ksd316 on Friday, October 07, 2005 9:49 PM:

I did it in 4 mintues people. I drank whole milk, and I had plenty of witnesses cause I was at work at the time. I am 6'4" 425lbs. If no one beleives me oh well really, I know I did it, and that is all that matters. And honestly it isn't like a big feat any how. The way I see if, if I can do it, I am sure that there are plenty of people in the world who can. Thanks for readin anyway.

# Michael S. Kaplan on Friday, October 07, 2005 10:18 PM:

The premise of the bet is like Nick laid it out -- that a stomach is about a half a gallon. Obviously, if you weight that much, your stomach is actually bigger than that, right?

I guess to be completely fair you would have to modify the bet so that it would be about twice your stomach capacity.... :-)

# ksd316 on Sunday, October 09, 2005 10:45 PM:

Well obviously a person could not drink twice the amount of their stomach capacity. But that isn't the bet. A gallon of milk in an hour. It isn't my fault that the bet automatically assumes that my stomach is only a half gallon in size. :) I guess no one will make that bet with me unless they want to lose their money. :D Thanks for readin

# Bryce on Wednesday, April 16, 2008 6:42 PM:

In your face?

# Michael S. Kaplan on Wednesday, April 16, 2008 9:21 PM:

In *my* face?

The bet is with whole milk, not skim milk. :-)

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