5 Guinness World Records That Were Discontinued for Our Own Good
In the struggle of seeking a particular reason to be here on this earth outside of eating, screwing and sleeping, many people find themselves in search of a lasting legacy. A spot in the history books, or at the very least, a footnote. Some people try to achieve this through industry, some through warfare, some through generalized infamy. Yet, there is one more option, one more accessible set of annals that one can find themselves recorded in without a whole life’s worth of work. I’m talking about the Guinness Book of World Records.
For those of us who don’t plan on passing meaningful legislation, inventing any societal phenomena or murdering scores of people, it’s a book that can be accessed through sheer weirdness and willpower. For competitive eaters, as an example, diarrhea is a small price to pay for immortality. However, people have at times thrown a little too much caution to the wind in pursuit of a place and plaque doled out by this commission, requiring Guinness to ban or abandon certain records, simply because they overestimated a human being’s dedication to their own well-being.
Here are five records that are no longer tracked for our own good...
A Guinness world record for a pet is a bit of a double-whammy of a questionable legacy. After all, it’s not you that made that horse big, you’re just holding the papers. Nevertheless, the size of pets, at least on the extreme end, has been a stalwart section of Guinness’ scrolls. Own a pet of remarkable dimensions in almost any direction, and you may be in line for taking a proud picture for future internet dwellers to ogle.
There is one exception, however: weight. At one point, Guinness tracked records of the heaviest pets, including fish. They discontinued the record, however, out of concern that record-seekers were basically just force-feeding their pets in order to try to nab a spot. A big fat guinea pig is all well and good, but they don’t want anyone strapping them to the Homer Simpson Hell Donut Machine.
Sleep deprivation is no joke. We’ve all pulled an unwise all-nighter with the help of caffeine or stronger pharmaceuticals to pass our single required math credit for art school. But this goes far beyond a couple cans of Monster and 16 hours of sleep the next night. When you get into multiple days of sleep deprivation, stuff starts to go seriously sideways. If the CIA is using something to torture people, it’s probably not a safe side hustle.
Concerned about the well-being of people who might attempt this, and likely a connected abuse of stimulants, Guinness shut down the category, leaving the title owned and forever uncontested by a San Diego teen named Randy Gardner. It started as a high-school science fair project, and by the time it was over 11 DAYS LATER, Randy had a Stanford professor observing him and was having his brain waves scanned at a naval hospital. No word on if he ever produced a tulpa.
This one can’t be particularly surprising to anyone. The idea of a world-record drinking binge is like a beer bong: It might seem cool when you’re in college, but it’s alarming to see as an adult. Obviously, the health concerns of someone trying to drink more alcohol than anyone ever had before doesn’t require a medical expert to break down. It’s basically a 1-to-1 trade between alcohol poisoning and a blurb in the record books.
One such record, now etched in stone, is the record for most beer drunk in an hour, held now and forevermore by Jack Keyes of Northern Ireland (insert joke here), who drank 36 pints, or 576 ounces of beer, in one hour. This would give a 200-pound man a blood alcohol concentration of roughly 1 percent. When your BAC doesn’t require decimals, you’re probably dead. To be exact, it’s a BAC of 1.08 percent, which means Keyes drank enough that 1/100th of his blood volume was alcohol, and then the legal driving limit on top of that. I assume he also holds the record for the largest McDonald’s order of all time.
Likely out of a mixture of medical concern and pure astonishment at humankind’s capacity for overeating, Guinness has removed most categories related to overeating. Historic ones like Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Competition and other sanctioned events still exist, but sitting down at your kitchen table and knocking off a hundred milkshakes is no longer getting your name in lights.
However, within the food category, they also retired a couple categories that weren’t so much about the amount of food as they were the fact that it wasn’t really food at all. The record for the underwhelmingly named “Greatest Omnivore” is held by a man named Michel Lotito, also known as Monsieur Mangetout, or “Mr. Eat-All.” A French man that rose to fame for his combination of an unusually thick stomach lining, powerful stomach acid and the eating disorder pica that allowed him to eat things including 18 bicycles, six chandeliers, and reportedly, a Cessna. He was awarded a plaque by Guinness for this, which he ate, of course.
Being Buried Alive
A coffin is a funny piece of furniture. By far, it’s the one a human will spend the most time in, without ever being aware of it, outside of maybe a dare out of a young adult thriller novel. But for a while, there was another reason to spend a less-than-restful couple of days reclining in one: in search of recognition from Guinness. The halted record is held by Mike Meaney of Ireland, which seems to be a heavy hitter in the Guinness books. He spent 61 days 6 feet under. He was, in fact, bested by a man named Geoff Smith who spent three months buried alive in 1998, but who was informed upon exhumation that Guinness, well, didn’t do that anymore. Bummer.
Taking it out of the book hasn’t prevented tragedy, though, showing that it was likely the smart decision in the first place — out of both morals and a desire not to be buried themselves in litigation. To wit, in 2012, a Sri Lankan man attempted to beat the record, and died during his attempt, which is both tragic and highly convenient. I guess if you are going to try it, do it where you’d want to be buried anyways, so the local gravekeeper doesn’t have to pull a double.