Ali Aldrich was 38-and-a-half weeks pregnant with her first child when she says she was doing anything possible to bring on labor.
“I was very pregnant. I was pretty big and swelling a lot, so I was really ready to go,” Aldrich, of Charlotte, North Carolina, tells PEOPLE.
The now mother of two tried a foot massage and nothing happened. But then her husband suggested the Buffalo Wing Pizza – a pie with a kick to it – from Hawthorne’s New York Pizza and Bar in Charlotte.
“I had always heard spicy foods could do it, so we ordered the pizza at 6 p.m. and by 10 that night, I was in labor,” she says.
Aldrich thought it was a funny coincidence until a few weeks later when her neighbor, also very pregnant, tried the same Buffalo Wing Pizza.
“They ordered the pizza and were at their house eating, and she went into the bathroom and her water broke,” Aldrich says.
That was over six years ago and the women thought it was just a fun story to tell until last month when another one of their friends tried the same trick.
“I didn’t think anything was going to happen,” Henley Schmiedel, a pediatric nurse, says of eating the pizza while pregnant with her daughter, Madelin. But four hours later, she was in labor.
“I think it’s fun,” says Schmiedel, 36, “There are a lot of wives’ tales that have to do with pregnancy and this is a fun one. Go eat a good pizza and see if you can get your baby out!”
After a mommy blogger shared the women’s story, five others have come forward. The manager at the popular pizza place says one woman called from Texas to ask about the pizza and another pregnant woman drove from two hours away to get her hands on a slice.
So what’s in the pizza that makes it so special? According to Hawthorne’s co-owner, John Adams, the pizza has mozzarella cheese and chicken – and a special medium-hot buffalo sauce made by the chef.
Adams, 50, says the flood of pregnant women coming to his restaurant may also have a little something to do with the fact that it’s just down the road from a hospital. But he thinks the homemade sauce may have something to do with it as well.
“It’s not too spicy, but it’s spicy enough to induce a baby,” he says.
The women are convinced it’s the spice, but Dr. Alyse Kelly Jones, a Charlotte-based OB-GYN who has delivered babies for 17 years, says it’s all just an old wives’ tale.
“There is no evidence to support that eating spicy food will do anything to bring on labor,” Dr. Jones says. “Women have been trying many things for decades – sex, spicy foods, walking — and none of those things have proven to work.”
But even she admits she tried drinking castor oil to bring on labor with her own child when she was in medical school. “That didn’t work either,” she says, laughing.
The owner of the pizza place says he had heard rumors about the pizza bringing on labor for years, but didn’t think much of it – until now.
“Hawthorne’s is about families and if we can help create or grow a family, then we’re all for it,” he says.
The restaurant is getting ready to open another location and planning to print new menus with a subtitle for the Buffalo Wing Pizza.
They’re calling it “The Inducer.”