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This was interesting...It seems the API that was used when this challenge was posted is still active, but not admitting new users (and will phase out at the end of the month) (FYI @JoeM ) I've registered for the API that supersedes this one https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/api-key-signup.html
A quick search suggests the old id's don't seem to exist in the new API/database (web info says you can use ndbid to search, but I've been unable to find those provided in the starting challenge -either using the API or the web searchbox), so I've done two sets of calls: one to search by name, and then get the first result for each;and a second to get the details (i.e. calories). Not surprisingly, the numbers don't quite add up...