In early 1997, Combat Insect Control ran a contest offering a $5000 cash prize to the person with the most cockroach-infested home.
The winner, from over 1000 people who entered, was Mary Esposito of Forest Park, Georgia. She complained that she had roaches living in her dishwasher, refrigerator, oven, coffeemaker, VCR, wallpaper, dresser drawers, and bathtub faucet. An entomologist hired by Combat estimated there were 75,000 roaches in her home.
Somehow I don't think that "most cockroach-infested home" is a record that will ever make its way into Guinness.
Back in 1930, George Kinder of Milwaukee set a record for endurance bowling. He bowled for 50 hours 20 mins, rolling 362 ½ games. He had to quit because "his thumb was badly split, blistered and torn, and he couldn't grasp the ball."
Courier News - Jan 13, 1930
41 years later, Richard Dewey of Kansas City set a new endurance record. He bowled for 98 hrs 45 mins, rolling 1220 games. But Dewey also had to quit because of injuries:
During his four days on the lanes, Dewey suffered a sprained right arm, severe blisters and swollen fingers. To overcome the problem of the sprained arm, he alternated arms, throwing left, then right-handed. To take the pressure off swollen and blistered fingers, his eight-pound bowling ball was drilled out every 20 hours. But after he was unable to stop the bleeding from his fingers, officials said enough was enough.
I just returned from visiting family in the Northern Neck region of Virginia. One of the oddities I encountered there was the giant corkscrews which stand at the entrance to the Dog and Oyster Vineyard in Irvington. Inside the vineyard, they'll tell you that these, at 40-feet tall, are the largest corkscrews in the world, and also that they're functional. If you bring a giant bottle of wine, they could open it.
I don't think this claim has been officially verified in any way. And since the corkscrews are anchored to the ground, I think they'd have trouble opening anything.
Another claimant to the title of World's Largest Corkscrew is a giant corkscrew that stands outside the Corkscrew Liquor Store in Hurley, Wisconsin. According to the Chicago Tribune it's only 24-feet tall, so the Dog and Oyster corkscrews have it beat.
According to Guinness, the record for the largest corkscrew goes to one that was only 5ft 8.1 in long that was created for the Watterfaescht festival in 2015. It was actually demonstrated to work, which I assume that Guinness considers to be essential for claiming the title.
In 1979, two Vancouver businessmen, Orst Perry and Adolf Schiel, set a world record for traveling around the world on commercial airlines. They started in Vancouver and ended up in Vancouver. They did this in 54 hours, 42 minutes. It cost them $7000 each.
I can think of a lot better ways to spend $7000 than sitting on a plane for several days. But it seems that others have pursued this same record. A press release from Nov 2016 says that Brother Michael Bartlett set a new record for flying around the world on commercial airlines by doing it in 57 hours, 17 minutes.
That's slower than the time set in 1979, but I'm guessing that Bartlett must have adhered to stricter rules. It says that he had to "cross the equator and land at points that are approximately 108 degrees apart and roughly on the same north–south longitude."
Back in 1937, Rev. A. Earl Lee set a record for preaching the longest sermon ever, preaching continuously for 21 hours. "He ate regular meals, preaching between bites, changed his clothes, and even took a bath while continuing the sermon by talking into a portable microphone."
Bradford Evening Star - June 29, 1937
However, it seems that world's longest sermon has been a hotly contested record. Today the record is up to 53 hours and 11 minutes. That record was set in 2014 by Florida pastor Zach Zehnder. Although it seems that he took some brief breaks for power naps. Is that allowed? Apparently so. In the video below you can watch the last 11 minutes of his sermon — and most of the rest of it is on YouTube if, for some reason, you want to sit through it.
One of the world records that Guinness no longer tracks is that for "most pills swallowed." But from the late 1970s to the 1990s it consistently awarded this to one C.H.A. Kilner of Malawi (or perhaps Zimbabwe — accounts differ), who apparently took A LOT of pills following a pancreatectomy (removal of his pancreas) on June 9, 1967.
The exact number of pills taken by Kilner progressively increased over time. The 1978 edition of Guinness put it at 280,131 pills. A year later it had reached 311,136. By 1981 it was 359,061. And Kilner finally stopped taking pills on June 19, 1988, having reached a total of 565,939 pills.
Later reports did the math and figured out that this worked out to 73 pills a day, and that "if all the pills he had taken were laid out end to end they would form an unbroken line two miles 186 yards long."
Where exactly was Guinness getting this information from? I have no idea, because they seem to be the only source for it. I can't find any record of this Kilner guy in medical journals.
Brent Fraser hopes that he is now the official record holder for this achievement after mouth-catching a grape dropped from a balloon 101-feet high. He's submitted all the necessary documentation to Guinness and is awaiting their decision.
He began dreaming of claiming this record after realizing that he had a "natural knack" for catching things with his mouth. He practiced by having grapes slingshot at high speed at his face.
In 1978, Thomas Crowder set a record for "time spent aboard commercial planes" by traveling back and forth between 91 U.S. cities for 21 days. He never spent more than three hours on layovers between flights.
As far as I can tell, Guinness never recognized this record. Nor can I find evidence that anyone has ever tried to top it.
I know that Guinness tries not to track records that encourage unhealthy or life-endangering acts. So maybe Crowder's record fell foul of this policy. Because spending 21 days sitting on commercial flights seems like a great way to develop deep vein thrombosis.
Raymond Tac begins attempt to set world record for fasting
February 1931: Fifty days into a fasting contest, Alf Wilson, of England, had to withdraw from the contest on the advice of his doctor. This left Raymond Tac, of New Zealand, the winner.
However, Tac was eager to keep fasting. So soon after he launched into an attempt to break his personal record of going ninety days and four hours without food — which apparently, at the time, was also a world record.
Tac sealed himself behind a glass wall, through which spectators could view him, having announced that he would live for over three months with mineral water and cigarettes as his only nourishment.
Unfortunately I don't know if Tac succeeded in his attempt to break his record. I haven't been able to find any reports about it. In fact, it's difficult to know what the world record for fasting is since Guinness doesn't maintain an official record for that activity, and there's a number of different claims to the title.
In Boobies, Peckers, and Tits Olaf Danielson documents his quest to obtain the world record for nude birdwatching. He managed to see 594 North American species in one year, while in his birthday suit.
It doesn't seem that there was a world record for this activity before Danielson decided to obtain it. So he had to invent his own official rules, which include the following.
You have to be nude to count the bird. Hats and footwear are fine but nothing else.
You have to had left naked to go birding (or for another nude activity) to count the bird. Seeing a turkey vulture while playing nude volleyball is acceptable, while driving along in a car or walking textile, seeing a bird, and then slipping off your clothing does not count. In fact, being in car doesn’t count ever. To count a bird, you will have to go back to car, or house, undress and then return unclothed. For legality reasons, leaving a car walking around a corner and disrobing is acceptable, as long as it wasn’t because you saw a new bird.
You cannot be inside an enclosed boat, house, or car/ truck for it to count. A bird blind must be open to a degree any birder would consider it open. Being naked on an ATV if you left naked on an ATV or even a snowmobile (burr!) is acceptable.
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Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction books such as Elephants on Acid.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.
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