What’s the record for squeezing open the most ketchup packets in 30 seconds? Seven. The record for the most people simultaneously flossing with the same piece of dental floss? 428.
These records are nowhere to be found in the Guinness World Records book, but rather on the website RecordSetter, an organization that believes everyone can be a world champion.
Dan Rollman, co-founder and president of RecordSetter, tells weekends on All Things Considered guest host Mary Louise Kelly that as long as an action is “quantifiable and breakable” and there is media evidence of it, the website will welcome and recognize the feat as a world record. The website and the orgaination’s book, The RecordSetter Book of World Records, showcase thousands of just such triumphs.
The site launched in late 2008 with the help of co-founder Corey Henderson and receives more than 1,000 world record submissions each month.
At the Burning Man festival in 2004, Rollman and his friends created a “world record camp” where people could climb onto a stage and invent their own world records.
One man came to their camp with an accordion and set the world record for the fastest accordion rendition of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” A woman, whom Rollman says had an “extraordinary deep belly button,” set the record for the most blueberries in a belly button.
Both records still stand, Rollman says.
“We started to see a lot of competition in categories and then it just felt like people were having so much fun with the creative side of thinking what they could be a world champion at,” he says. “I thought there was an opportunity to take this thing on to the Internet and invite the whole world to play along.”
Rollman says his interest in record-setting began when he received his first Guinness World Records book at the age of 10.
“I think looking at us as kind of the Wikipedia to Guinness’ Encyclopedia Britannica is a good analogy,” he said. “It’s just a much more open and democratic platform for world records.”
When he was in college, he looked into setting a Guinness World Record for speed-eating ravioli but found the paperwork to be difficult.
“I thought I could make a run at being a competitive ravioli eater, I was also trying to impress a girl,” Rollman says. “Some guys woo women with roses and chocolate, and I said come on over and watch me speed-eat ravioli.”
Rollman says nothing is too weird for him, but the site does have principles. “The primary one [is] don’t hurt yourself, don’t hurt others, don’t hurt the planet,” he says.
His most recent world record was building the world’s tallest tower of clementine pieces (8), which he’s challenged the world to beat.
“I welcome anyone out there to have a go at taking me down,” he says.