One of comedian Jim Purol's recurring gags was to stuff record-setting amounts of things in his mouth, especially cigarettes and cigars. For instance, he set a Guinness world record for smoking seven packs of cigarettes simultaneously. Ironically, he was a non-smoker. From the LA Times (July 18, 1987):
His trick of broadening a yawn into a crater crammed with seven packs of gaspers also has given Purol, 35, a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. He scored a second mention by smoking 38 pipes at one puffing. He opened wider, gritted his tonsils, and earned a third entry in 1983 by smoking 40 finger-fat stogies at the same time.
Paradoxically, Purol is a nonsmoker. It gets better. His world cigar smoking record was a charity performance benefiting the American Lung Assn.
"I hate smoking," he explained. "I perform the stunts as a statement against smoking. Lookit this picture of me with cigarettes stuffed in my face. This is glamorous? It's disgusting."
Jim Purol (left) and Mike Papa each smoking 135 cigarettes in five minutes - October 1978
Weekly World News - Jan 1, 1985
Philadelphia Daily News - Apr 22, 1983
Back in 1976, he also set the world's duration drumming record by drumming for 320 hours.
Butch Baker of Four Oaks, North Carolina began making a paper chain in 1979. The chain is now 23-miles long, weighs 2300 pounds, and takes up much of his living room. And he’s still working on it. (He knows it's length because he's been measuring it as he makes it.)
The problem is, Butch is 78 and doesn't know what will happen to the chain when he dies.
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.
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