14 (Thankfully) Discontinued Guinness World Records
Since its establishment in the 1950s, Guinness World Records has become the premier authority on superlative achievements of all kinds, and throughout the organization’s history, controversies have been caused, dreams have been dashed, and a number of categories have been retired—usually for good reason. Here are 14 wacky world records that Guinness no longer recognizes.
1. Longest Time to Keep a Tobacco Pipe Lit
In 1954, a Los Angeles man named Paul Lauderback kept his pipe lit for 1 hour, 55 minutes, and 11 seconds. The stunt, which took two matches and 3.3 grams of tobacco, earned him a shout-out in the very first Guinness Book of Records, published in 1955. Guinness doesn’t accept submissions for that category anymore, which is probably for the best.
2. Largest (Edible) Pie Fight
Guinness’s 2011 edition recognized flooring company Shaw Floors as organizer of the largest pie fight ever, which took place at a sales conference in Texas on January 7, 2010. A total of 434 staff members hit each other with 1200 chocolate, apple, and cherry pies “to demonstrate the stain resistance of a premium nylon carpet.”
These days, Guinness has pretty strict policies against food waste for record attempts that require large amounts of anything edible. You have to either donate it or divvy it up “for general consumption by humans.” Since you can’t do that after a traditional pie fight, Guinness has updated the category to “largest shaving cream pie fight.” The current record, set in 2016 at UK arts festival Another Fine Fest, involved 1180 people.
3. Fastest Time to Eat a Whole Roast Ox
In 1880, according to Guinness’s 1955 edition, Germany’s Johann Ketzler ate “one whole roast ox” in 42 days—reportedly the fastest time ever. Ketzler’s record was apparently never broken, as he was included in Guinness books until the 1990 edition, published in 1989.
That year, however, the organization announced that it would henceforth be cutting that category, along with more than 40 other “gluttony records” involving consumption of eels, pancakes, spaghetti, and more. “We now regard these records as unhealthy and outmoded, in the light of growing concerns about health issues worldwide,” Guinness editor Donald McFarlan told the Associated Press at the time.
Guinness declines to monitor such gluttony records to this day, but there are still a number of speed-eating records you can try to beat, like “fastest time to eat three cream crackers.” The specified time frames and/or amounts of food are kept small enough that they generally don’t pose serious health risks.
4. Most Beer Drunk in an Hour
Perhaps unsurprisingly, records that entailed guzzling massive amounts of alcohol died with the other gluttony categories. If you knock back 200 fluid ounces of beer in an hour next weekend (please do not), don’t expect a Guinness World Record. But even if Guinness still had that record, you wouldn’t qualify for it. In 1969, 23-year-old Jack Keyes of Northern Ireland downed 36 pints of beer—576 U.S. ounces—in 60 minutes flat.
5. Heaviest Cat
The heaviest cat ever bestowed with a Guinness World Record (well, posthumously) was 10-year-old Himmy, who tipped the scales at 46 pounds, 15.5 ounces when he died in March 1986. His owner, Thomas Vyse of Australia, used to cart him around via wheelbarrow. Twelve years later, the Guinness team ended the practice of awarding records for heaviest pets, cats included, because they didn’t want to encourage people to overfeed their animals.
6. Most Sky Lanterns Released Simultaneously
In May 2013, the Middle Way Meditation Institute organized a mass release of sky lanterns in Iloilo City, Philippines, to promote world peace. Participants also clinched the Guinness World Record for most sky lanterns flown simultaneously: 15,185. Guinness has since discontinued the category so as not to inspire people to partake in activities that could damage the environment. ‘Most party balloons released simultaneously’ has also been discontinued for that reason (but unfortunately not before Cleveland’s disastrous Balloonfest of 1986).
7. Largest Audience at a Camel Wrestling Festival
In keeping with its commitment to animal welfare, Guinness has also retired categories that involve “controversial animal sports,” such as most elephant polo world championships and largest fox ever killed during an English fox hunt (the last record-holder, taken down in Cumberland in 1936, weighed just under 24 pounds).
Since camel wrestling falls under Guinness’s umbrella of potential animal endangerment, too, the largest audience at a camel wrestling festival is another record you can no longer try to beat. Per the 2011 edition, its last winner was the 20,000-strong crowd at the 1994 Camel Wrestling Festival in Selçuk, Turkey.
8. Most Guitars Smashed During a Concert Tour
Guinness’s record keepers don’t only care about human, animal, and environmental welfare. They look out for guitars, too. In 2021, the organization tweeted that it doesn’t monitor ‘most guitars smashed on a single tour’ anymore “due to guitar welfare.” As it stands, Muse’s Matthew Bellamy is the current record-holder for wrecking 140 guitars during a 2004 concert circuit.
9. Largest Penny Pyramid
In the 1984 Guinness book, two friends from Arizona—12-year-old Marc Edwards and 13-year-old Ben Schlimme, Jr.—were lauded for building the largest penny pyramid in history. Comprising 104,000 coins in total, the structure was 22 inches tall and boasted a base of 20.5 inches by 23.5 inches. If any other schoolkids were inspired to outdo that feat, they never got the chance to be recognized for it. Right below the record, the book editors explained that they’d stop printing it going forward because the U.S. Mint “has problems producing pennies for one cent and therefore foresees a shortage if the Guinness Book encourages competition.”
10. Most Tweets Sent in a Single Second
During the climax of Hayao Miyazaki’s classic Studio Ghibli film Castle in the Sky (1986), the protagonists incant the word balse as part of an important spell. This has given rise to what’s known as the “Balse Festival”: Whenever the movie is aired on TV in Japan, viewers all tweet balse the second it’s said on screen. The Balse Festival that occurred on August 2, 2013, at 11:21:50 p.m. Japanese Standard Time generated so many tweets that it helped set a new Guinness World Record for most tweets sent in a single second: 143,199. (The previous record, 33,388 tweets, was actually set during an earlier Balse Festival.) Guinness has since retired that category, so the 2013 Balse Festival participants will never lose their title during a future Balse Festival or any other pop culture event.
11. Most Difficult Tongue Twister
Guinness no longer tries to identify which English-language tongue twister is the hardest of all, but it did name one in its 1974 book: The sixth sick sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick, “especially when spoken quickly.” The sentence was selected by Ken Parkin, who authored 1969’s Anthology of British Tongue-Twisters.
12. Most Greeting Cards Received by an Individual
In 1989, friends and family of Craig Shergold, a young brain cancer patient in the UK, helped him launch a movement to set a record for the most greeting cards ever received by one person. It worked: By May 1991, a staggering 33 million cards had reached him, and he made it into Guinness’s annals. In fact, it worked a little too well. Not only did Shergold—who recovered from cancer—reportedly continue receiving millions of letters for years after the campaign had ended, but it also prompted a stream of copycat hoaxes. These caused so much confusion that Guinness actually added a section to its FAQ page telling people not to answer “any such requests, and if anyone asks you about it please tell them it’s a hoax!” These days, the organization won’t accept submissions for most cards sent to one person over fear that such an attempt would overwhelm the postal system.
13. Fastest Yodeling
The fastest single yodel in Guinness history was achieved by Germany’s Thomas Scholl in February 1992: 22 tones, 15 of which were falsetto, in one second. Though that category no longer exists, you’re free to try for largest simultaneous yodel. The title is currently held by Yahoo, which commemorated its 20th anniversary in March 2015 by having 3432 employees yodel its classic jingle. Wylie Gustafson, the famous yodeler who originated it, also participated.
14. Fastest Journey Around the World by Car
The exact description of this record, as listed in the 1994 Guinness edition, is “the fastest drive taking in the six continents, with a total distance of more than an equator’s length” (24,901 miles). Saloo and Neena Choudhury from Kolkata, India, covered that distance in a record-setting 39 days and 20 hours in late 1991; their Nissan Sunny carried them through 25 countries. But because speeding around the world practically requires flouting legal speed limits to a perilous degree, Guinness cut the category in the mid-1990s.