There seems to be no end to the ways people come up with to make or break records. Many are athletic feats or they record extremes in the natural world. Others are downright weird, inspired by a personal obsession, or because nobody else has attempted it, or because of a simple question from a child. Some are so odd they remain records for decades simply because nobody else aspires to break them. All have one thing in common: They’re the product of a basic human desire to accomplish something unique, and to be recognized for that.
Ever since Sir Hugh Beaver set up an office in London in the 1950s to publish an annual list of world records, the Guinness Book of World Records has recorded seemingly countless feats — some by spirited individuals seeking small corners of fame, others by publicity-seeking organizations. The following is a small sample of thirty odd or unusual world records. Many records in general involve food and drink — these are 35 absolutely crazy food and drink world records.
24/7 Tempo conducted online research and fact-checked media reports of unusual world records by checking the Guinness Book of World Records online archive. While characterizing a record as “weird” is a subjective effort, we feel these 30 records — some dating back to the early 1990s and others broken within the past couple of years — qualify as unusual.
Widest tornado damage path
Tornadoes are known to inflict damage with veritable pinpoint accuracy, in which houses on one street could be completely razed while homes just a block away suffer little or no damage. According to the US Federal Emergency Management Agency, the average width of a tornado is roughly 425 yards, but sometimes these violently rotating columns of air can be much wider. The widest tornado damage path on record came from a high-intensity tornado whose funnel at ground level stretched as wide as 2.49 miles as it tore through Hallam, Nebraska, on May 22, 2004.
Smallest medical robot
In November 2016, a team of electrical and materials engineering researchers at the University of Texas at San Antonio showed off the world’s smallest medical robot. At just 120 nanometers in length (about the size of an influenza virus) these robots are made of nanocomposite particles that can be remotely controlled by an electromagnetic field. “They function like extremely tiny robots that interact with biological cells,” according to a statement by the research team. These tiny record-setting nanobots hold promise in treating terminal diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s.
Longest abdominal plank position
The plank is a deceptively difficult core strength exercise that involves holding for as long as possible a push-up position using just your forearms and toes. Most people can barely hold this position for a few minutes, much less a few hours. The current record for the longest plank position is held by Daniel Scali from Australia. In 2021, he lasted an excruciating 9 hours, 30 minutes and 1 second. The year before, George Hood of Naperville, Illinois, reportedly planked for an astonishing 8 hours, 15 minutes and 15 seconds.
Guinness maintains lots of produce-related records, many of them regarding the largest fruit or vegetable. But not all garden-variety records have to do with size. In September 2014, Tony Glover of Harrogate, North Yorkshire, UK, landed in the Guinness Book of World Records for growing the heaviest onion ever recorded. At 18 pounds, 11.84 ounces, the world’s heaviest onion weighs more than twice the world’s heaviest tomato (8.61 pounds), grown in 2016 by Dan Sutherland of Walla Walla, Washington.
Longest sustained singing note
Richard Fink IV currently holds the world record for the longest continuous vocal note. The American sustained a constant pitch for 2 minutes and 2 seconds, beating the previous record by Turkish singer Alpaslan Durmuş by 10 seconds.
Most expensive music single
Analog-obsessed music fans have in the past decade revived demand for vinyl records in the era of digital music. So perhaps it’s no surprise the most expensive music single sold at auction occurred in 2009 amid the revival of this musical medium. A rare seven-inch copy of “Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)” by American Motown singer, songwriter and producer Frank Wilson sold at a UK auction for $39,294 to an anonymous bidder. The 1965 single was never released, making it a rare gem in the vinyl repertoire.
Largest gin and juice
Anyone familiar with rap music could probably accurately guess who used to hold the world record for the largest gin and juice. Indeed, it was Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr., aka Snoop Dogg. The rapper’s 1994 hit single “Gin and Juice” has indefinitely linked him to the paradise cocktail. Technically, the record was held by four people who helped to mix together and present at a Napa, California, music festival in 2018 a huge plastic cup containing 145.2 gallons of gin, apricot brandy and orange juice. But a few months later a bar in Miami broke the record and made the world’s largest gin and juice cocktail by pouring 320 liters of gin, 160 liters of fruit brandy, 120 liters of orange and grapefruit juices into a dunk tank.
Longest tightrope distance
American Bello Nock held the Guinness record for the longest distance traversed on an unsupported tightrope until last year. In 2010, using a balancing pole, Nock took 15 minutes to walk carefully on 429 feet of galvanized aircraft cable attached to two points of the massive vessel. In 2022, however, French tightrope walker Nathan Paulin claimed a new world record, completing a 7,217-food long walk from a crane to the abbey of Mont Saint-Michel, a tidal island and commune in Normandy, France, in two hours.
Longest continuous chant
Twenty-seven hours, 27 minutes minutes and 27 seconds. That’s how long Swaminarayan Bhajan Yaag and Param Pujya Sadguru Shree Gyanjivandasji Swami – Kundaldham in Vadodara, Gujarat, India, chanted. The record-setting chanting marathon took place on July 23, 2022.
Tallest mohawk spike
The hairstyle is closely associated with the punk music culture in which both sides of the head are shaved, leaving a stripe of spiky gelled-up hair down the middle of the scalp. The tallest single mohawk spike is held by Joseph Grisamore from in Park Rapids, Minnesota. The single spike of hair measured 4 feet and 2 inches in April 2021.
Most burpees in one hour
Guinness has several records related to the squat thrust, aka the para jump or the burpee, a challenging full-body strength and aerobic exercise that takes you from a standing position to a squat, to a plank, and back again in rapid succession over a set period of time. In March 2023, Daniel Scali from Adelaide, Australia, set the world record for the most chest to ground burpees in one hour — 990.
One of the most recognizable symbols of Texas culture is the longhorn steer, a cow known for both its high tolerance for drought and its ridiculously long horns. But the world-record holding steer with the longest set of horns isn’t from Texas, but rather Alabama. In 2021, seven-year-old Poncho Via entered the Guinness Book of World Records with a tip-to-tip “hornspan” measuring 10 feet, 7.4 inches.
Largest bikini photo shoot
With ages ranging from 4 to 69 years old, 3,090 women participated in a world record-breaking largest bikini photo shoot on a beach in Huludao, Liao Ning Province, China, in August 2011. The photo shoot, part of a local effort to promote tourism, shattered the previous record of 1,923 bikini-clad participants organized by Cosmopolitan Magazine on a beach in Sochi, Russia.
One of the oldest records on this list is the world’s largest condom, which was fitted over the phallic shaped obelisk at the Place de al Concorde in Paris on Dec. 1, 1993. The event sponsored by Italian fashion brand Benetton was aimed at raising awareness about the importance of the prophylactic in preventing the transmission of the HIV virus between sexual partners. Other condom-related world records include the longest chain of condoms (10,726 feet 6 inches) and the most condoms burst on the head in three minutes (three).
Heaviest object sword-swallowed
The art of wowing an audience by suppressing your gag reflex to turn yourself into a human sword scabbard dates back centuries. It’s believed that sword-swallowing originated in India along with walking on hot coals and handling poisonous snakes as a way for spiritual leaders to display their invulnerability. Today, sword-swallowing has evolved to take on a circus side show quality. In November 2007, Thomas Blackthorn earned a world-record nod for sword-swallowing the heaviest object, the business end of a Dewalt jackhammer that weighed in at 83 pounds, 12 ounces.
Largest human nativity scene
Dressed up as Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the biblical Magi, and a slew of shepherds and angels, some 1,254 people turned out in Calne, Wiltshire, UK, in December 2016 to create the largest living nativity scene, breaking the previous record held by a group of devout volunteers in Rock Canyon Park, Utah, who created the first recorded live nativity scene to top 1,000 people.
Longest continuous note on a wind instrument
Move over Kenny G. The longest sustained note on a wind instrument is held by British national Philip Palmer, who in November 2006 exhaled one note through his clarinet for 1 minute and 13.38 seconds. Palmer accomplished this feat through controlled exhalation, unlike Kenny G and Femi Kuti who both reportedly used a circular breathing technique to hold sustained notes on saxophones for more than 45 minutes.
Longest solo performance
The American rock band Phish is well known for its extended live jam sessions that can last well over a half hour per song. But they’ve got nothing on Kuzhalmannam Ramakrishnan, a mridangam drum maestro from the southern Indian state of Kerala. In 2009, Ramakrishnan performed the world’s longest known music solo, a percussion marathon that lasted 501 hours, or 21 consecutive days. Guinness doesn’t provide details, but we can safely assume this concert involved some bathroom and sustenance pauses.
Most body piercings
The record for the most body piercings has been unbroken since 2000, perhaps because few people desire to adorne themselves in the same manner as Elaine Davidson, a Brazilian-born woman who resides in the UK. Guinness officials recorded a record 462 piercings on Davidson’s body, including 192 piercings on her head and 214 piercings in her pubic area. Davidson beats Rolf Buchholz of Dortmund, Germany, who holds the record for the most-pierced man, with 453 piercings, including 153 piercings around his lips and 278 piercings in his pubic area.
Biggest skinny dipping gathering
Big gatherings of people doing the same activity is a common accomplishment in the Guinness world record inventory. This list alone includes three such records, including the largest skinny dip, achieved by 2,505 women who stripped off their clothes and dove into the North Atlantic waters in Wicklow, Ireland. Like other Guinness records, the feat had an awareness-raising element to it; the event was organized to raise funds for children with cancer.
Largest balloon sculpture by an individual
Clown-made balloon animals are a common feature at children-oriented events, but David Baker of Cincinnati, Ohio, saw a bigger purpose. In 2015, Baker utilized nearly 4,000 gray, brown, beige and black elongated party balloons to create a giant bat measuring nearly 72 feet wide and nearly 37 feet tall. The largest balloon sculpture made by an individual was displayed at a local mall as a Halloween decoration.
Largest rolling luggage bag
Because of the attention they receive, Guinness records are often attempted or broken as an act of self-promotion or part of a publicity campaign for communities, nonprofit organizations or companies. But a record is a record, regardless of the motives. In 2006, a Shanghai-based luggage manufacturer produced the world’s largest piece of rolling luggage that could easily accommodate an adult human being, measuring 5 feet, 9 inches in height; 3 feet, 9.3 inches in width; and 1 foot, 6.1 inches in depth. Try bringing that one as a carry-on.
Most plastic surgeries
Some people go to plastic surgeons for a little nip and tuck; then there’s Ohio-born Cindy Jackson. The aesthetic surgery proponent is reported by Guinness as having had 47 cosmetic procedures between 1998 and 2005, for a total cost of just under $100,000. These operations included two eye lifts, liposuction, jawline surgery, cheek implants, chemical peels and semi-permanent makeup. In 2011 ABC News reported that the then 55-year-old had a total of 52 procedures, but Guinness currently maintains the lower number.
The record for the fastest rapper goes to American MC Seandale Price, aka Rebel XD, who in 2007 rapped 852 syllables in 42 seconds, breaking his previous two records of 683 syllables in 54.5 seconds and 674 syllables in 54.9 seconds. Guinness reportedly used a computer to slow down video footage of the feat to confirm that he had indeed pronounced every syllable.
Largest bouncy castle
Inflatable play structures are popular at events for children, but none are as large and complex as the one constructed by Jumpx in Dubai. This touring inflatable castle measures 13,584 square feet, and it can fit 300 people.
Largest rubber band ball
There are rubber band balls, and then there are serious rubber band balls. Joel Waul’s 9,032 rubber band ball fits into the latter category. The Lauderhill, Florida, resident entered the Guinness Book of World Records in November 2008 after using 700,000 rubber bands of all sizes to build his 6 foot, 7-inch ball he names “Megatron.” Waul said he started making the ball in April 2004.
Largest synchronized lottery-card scratching
Three of the items on this list are records of large gatherings of people doing the same thing, a common characteristic of Guinness records. Earlier this year, as part of a promotional campaign, the state lottery system of Idaho organized the largest group of people ever gathered to scratch off lottery card at the same time. Celebrating the organization’s 30th anniversary, Idaho Lottery lured 479 people to the scratch-off. It should come as no surprise that Idaho Lottery didn’t disclose winning statistics for those 479 scratchies.
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