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Mar 30, 2010

The World’s Biggest Foods


World Biggest Pumpkin When the American love of big things meets the farm the results are...well, just look at this pumpkin. According to Susan Warren, author of "Backyard Giants: The Passionate, Heartbreaking, and Glorious Quest to Grow the Biggest Pumpkin Ever", marriages are strained (!) and people fight on eBay for seeds from world record pumpkins like this one. But monster pumpkins are just a part of America’s obsession with big food, be it grown, like the record 127 pound cabbage grown by Steve Hubacek, or assembled, like the 150-plus pound burger from Mallies Bar & Grill. Our gallery of humongous chow:

127-pound cabbage grown by Steve Hubacek

127-pound cabbage grown by Steve Hubacek_resize

Hubacek broke his own world record this year when he displayed this monstrous head of cabbage he’d grown for the Alaska State Fair. Can you imagine the smell if you found a pot big enough to boil it in? And doesn’t it look a little like something from Invasion of the Body Snatchers? I’m no wimp when it comes to big food, but this cabbage scares me. Oh, and should you want to grow one (and I hope you don’t), you’re on your own. Hubacek keeps his choice of seed a secret.

82.9-pound rutabaga grown by Scott Robb

82.9-pound rutabaga grown by Scott Robb

I have no idea what one does with a normal-size rutabaga, never mind a world-record one. Wikipedia says it's a turnip and that before pumpkins were readily available, they were carved for Halloween. Either way, Robb knows his way around a giant vegetable. Not only did he also submit a 146.5-pound watermelon to this year’s Alaska State Fair, but his last world record was in 2007 for a 105.9-pound kale. That’s a lot of soup.

150-pound burger at Mallie’s

150-pound burger at Mallie’s

Even though this is the largest commercially available burger available in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, you can’t just walk in off the street and order it. Mallie’s Sports Bar and Grill in Southgate, Mich., asks that you allow a “minimum of 72 hours to prepare.” I have no idea whether that’s because it takes three days to cook or because they have to give people enough time to stock up on antacid. Oh, and by the way, this burger is for dine-in only—no delivery. Too bad, because that would be a prank worth every cent of the burger’s $499 cost.

268.8-pound watermelon grown by Lloyd Bright

268.8-pound watermelon grown by Lloyd Bright

Hope, Arkansas, is not only the town where Bill Clinton and Mike Huckabee got their start but also home of the world’s largest watermelons. The town’s first world-record melon was grown in 1935, and it held the prize for decades. After a brief sojourn in Tennessee, the record once again returned to Hope when Lloyd Bright grew a 268.8-pound behemoth in 2005.

76-ounce steak at the Big Texan Steak House in Amarillo, Texas

76-ounce steak at the Big Texan Steak House in Amarillo, Texas

Not to be too snarky, but I think it’s time for the Big Texan to get a bigger cut. Seriously, there are hundreds of people listed on their Web site who fit 4.75 pounds of beef, a baked potato, salad, shrimp cocktail, and a roll with butter into their stomachs in less than an hour, including an 11-year-old boy and a 69-year-old woman. Competitive eating champ Joey Chestnut did it in under 10 minutes. My recommendation: make the move to the 98-ounce special and add some dessert. That should separate the men from the boys (or put them in the ICU).

John Evans Triptych: Broccoli, Carrot, Kohlrabi

John Evans Triptych Broccoli, Carrot, Kohlrabi

John Evans of Palmer, Alaska, is the king of giant food—the Tiger Woods of huge horticulture, the Michael Jordan of blue ribbons, the Williams sister of ... Okay, you get it. Evans and his wife have 180 first places in both quality and giant vegetable categories, with 18 state and 7 World Records. If you’re wondering, as I was, why all these big veggies are grown so far up north, it’s because Alaska’s summer may be short but the days are long with up to 20 hours of sunlight to nourish the plants.

Kitchen Sink Sundae in Medina, Ohio

Kitchen Sink Sundae in Medina, Ohio

The problem with most world-record food is that you can’t eat it. Sure, it looks great, but they’re usually just one-offs like the world record sundae on the left (made by Palm Dairies LTD at Alberta, Canada, in 1988, which had 20.27 tons ice cream, 4.39 tons of syrup and 537 pounds of topping). Should you be in the mood for a lot of ice cream, head over to Elm Farm in Medina, Ohio—home not only to America’s Ice Cream and Dairy Museum but also to the Kitchen Sink Sundae—21 scoops of ice cream, a topping of whipped cream and sprinkles. Now that’s a gutbuster you can eat! Oh, and should the metaphor be lost on you, it’s served in an actual kitchen sink.

Big Lou’s 42” pizza, San Antonio, Texas

Big Lou’s 42” pizza, San Antonio, Texas

The “Big Lou” is a truck-tire-sized pizza (42-inch diameter) with everything on it. I don’t think Homer Simpson could eat all of that--each slice is about 20 inches long! The crust alone would put me in a coma. Thankfully, a pizza isn’t the kind of food you have to eat all by yourself--this isn’t a 70 pound personal pizza. I’m sure a fraternity could finish it, or a pack of wild dogs. By the way, I hope they deliver because I don’t know how you’d get it in the car. Pizzas have to lie flat or the cheese slides off. Also, my dining table is just 48 inches square. I don’t think people should eat food that’s too big for their table.

The Home Wrecker Hot Dog

The Home Wrecker Hot Dog

The Home Wrecker from Hillbilly Hot Dogs in West Virginia is a 15-inch wiener with chili sauce, mustard, onions, ketchup, mayo, relish, coleslaw, sauerkraut, nacho cheese, jalapenos and bbq sauce. If you eat it all, you get a T shirt. “Look Mom, I perforated my colon and all I got was a lousy t-shirt!” If you eat it all in under 12 minutes, you get the wiener for free. “Look Mom, I burned a hole in my esophagus, but I saved nine dollars!”

Monster Marrow

Monster Marrow

This is not a zucchini. Yes, I know. It certainly looks like one. It is a summer squash, but it’s called marrow (yup, like the stuff in your bones). It’s mostly eaten in the U.K. where they don’t mind bland food. And they grow really, really big ones in England--really big ones. Ken Dade grew this one after a long wet spring and summer (is there any other kind in the U.K.?) and captured the World Record at 113 lbs. Dade’s response: “There is nothing else like it. It is like winning an Olympic gold medal.”

Can You Get Your Arms Around This?

World Biggest Pumpkin

And now, the gourd de resistance: Christy Harp of Jackson Township, Ohio, has busted the world record for largest pumpkin with this 1,725 pound monster. On common hazzard of such enormous vegetables is their tendency to explode. According to an NPR report, 'a giant pumpkin can put on around 40 pounds a day. If there is too much rain, some pumpkins overindulge and begin packing on closer to 50 pounds a day. As the pumpkins expand, pressure builds on the weaker parts of the rind and suddenly they blow.'

By Raina Kelley



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