Dr. Lester Keith, a professor of business administration at Glen Oaks Community College, received word May 25 from the Guinness Book of World Records headquarters. Professor Keith, along with fellow business professor Bill Furr, were waiting for official word after the March 15 event before announcing the news that Glen Oaks had officially set the world record for cooking the largest meatball at 254 pounds. The earlier record of 222 pounds had been held by an Italian restaurant in New Hampshire.
Students, faculty, staff and volunteers gathered in mid-March to cook for 32 hours a 400 pound meatball in a double sized hog roaster. Gerald Barkley, a professor of science, calculated and monitored the time needed to prepare the enormous meatball. Student volunteers, watched by Michigan State Health Department officials, oversaw the cooking project.
When all was said and done the cooked meatball weighed 254 pounds and was still enough to take the title. (About 30 lbs. of meat was not counted because it was not fully cooked, so it was placed back in the roaster). That evening, after the official weigh-in was completed before cameras, 250 meatball sandwiches were donated through Meals on Wheels and hundreds more sandwiches, chips and drink were served for free to families in the college gymnasium.
The extra-curricular college event gained national attention, Dr. Keith said, with news media contacts from across the nation and area newspapers, radio, television and computer blogs. Throughout March 15th the campus crowd grew in anticipation of the record-breaking outcome. World’s Largest Meatball shirts were sold and a 50/50 raffle continued until the weigh-in to see who came closest to the finished weight of the meatball.
As word spread about the official record among the summer classes at Glen Oaks, Professor Furr said, “I’m glad we did it, but I won’t ever be part of another attempt like that. If someone else tries to beat our record I wish them luck.” He said it took an enormous amount of planning, cooperation from local businesses, dozens of volunteers, pre-cooking trial attempts with a smaller (50 lb) version, and even overnight shifts as the record meatball cooked. “It was fun, but once is enough,” laughed Furr.
Professor Keith said the world record would not have been possible without the cooperation and spirit of the entire community and so many volunteers. “We had a fun time achieving this record. I just want to thank everyone,” he said.