By HAP MANSFIELD
When my brothers were in grade school, they would pore over The Guinness Book of World Records to find a record they figured they had a snowball’s chance of breaking. I’m pretty sure the real reason they studied the book so assiduously was so they could announce repulsive, fascinating facts at the dinner table.
Nothing suppresses the appetite quite like the world record for eating cockroaches (36, eaten by Ken Edwards in London) or the largest mosaic made of sushi (163 feet in India) or info about the guy who set a record by pulling a double-decker bus (some 17,00 pounds) 98 feet with his hair.
Kids and adults, alike, still find the book an astonishing read. Guinness promises that the 2009 book will have a holographic cover and 3D glasses. I may have to spring for that myself after reading the fascinating video game section, listing, among other things, the best selling video game of all time (no big surprise, Super Mario Brothers on the Nintendo Entertainment System). Did you know the Nintendo company started out a hundred years ago making playing cards? Now, there’s a fact you can mention at the dinner table.
Guinness has a website (www.guinnessworldrecords.com) that tempts the reader with weird new records and whets the palate for more. For example, it turns out that San Dimas, California’s “finest” may refer to a Camel named Bert who was accepted as a Reserve Deputy Sheriff for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The camel, all in all, seems like a more dignified identity for San Dimas than being home to Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
The Guinness website also lists the world’s largest teddy bear collection (5,029) the largest collection of airplane sick bags (5,180) the most books typed backwards (58) and the most spoons balanced at one time on the face (15)
Most of these records do not seem worth breaking or even achievable, although I did make a casserole the other night with leftovers from the freezer that might qualify. I’m betting nobody else in the whole world, that night, had freezer burnt shrimp scampi mixed with a selection of old onion ring parts and succotash. The world’s record part, I suppose, is that we ate it. I should probably be watching the cooking lessons of Mrs. Zarate in Guadalajara, Mexico. Her world-record-setting television show “Hasta La Cocina” has been on continuously since 1960.
If you still harbor some childhood fantasy of getting into the Guinness Book of World Records there may still be a way for you to do it. This Saturday is slated to be the World’s Longest Fair Trade Coffee Break and you can register to be a part of it. All you have to do is consume some fair trade product (coffee, tea, chai, chocolate, cocoa or the like) this Saturday, May 10, in the afternoon. Make sure that the product is certified to be fair trade and register at http://www.globalexchange.org/coffeebreak. This Guinness World Record attempt is being done under the auspices of Global Exchange in celebration of Fair Trade Day.
If you’re going to have coffee anyway, why not do it? I get my Newman’s Own fair trade coffee at H-E-B, but Wal-Mart now carries its own brand of fair trade certified coffee, as well.
There is one more record I think I can break. The record for eating Ferraro Rocher Chocolates is currently held by Reuben Williams in the UK. He ate five (unwrapping counts) in one minute. I’m pretty sure I could break that record. Of course, it will take a lot practice, but I think I’m up to the challenge.