On an unassuming February day, while most UR students were shuffling to classes or studying for tests, a select group of people gathered in Hirst Lounge to make history. The usual lunch crowd was displaced by tables that zigzagged through the lounge, adorned with yellow and blue table cloths that could only mean an important University event was taking place.
A group of students and staff waited around the tables listening to instructions, all clad in the same navy blue T-shirts with “Making History” emblazoned on the back, as curious students stopped on the staircases, peering out into Hirst Lounge.
With camera crews from local news stations milling around the tables, the onlooking students appeared mesmerized at history in the making; or else, they just wanted to score a free taco.
On Wednesday, Feb. 8, the event, which took roughly three and a half months to plan, was finally completed and left UR with bragging rights as Guinness World Record holders for the world’s longest taco line. The record, previously held by Emory University with 260 tacos, and most recently by Michigan State University with 853 tacos, was shattered by UR with 1,036 tacos lined up, side-by-side, resting on top of the yellow and blue tables.
In order to successfully claim their spot in the record book, the taco line had to adhere to several strict guidelines, all monitored by a Guinness World Record judicator. Each of the tacos had to be a certain length and width, contain at least one filling and be completely edible. The 2013 Class Council, who cosponsored the event with Wilson Commons Student Activities and Aramark — the company that provides the University’s food — worked diligently to make sure all guidelines were met.
While Guinness does not restrict how long it takes to make the taco line, the 2013 Class Council and several volunteers were feeling the time crunch as hungry students waited for their chance to eat a part of history.
“It was a lot of fun,” Student Activities Graphic Artist Jennelle Hart said about her experience as part of the taco chain production line. “Everybody [was] running around trying to fill tacos.”
Although there was a certain amount of pressure to get the line done in time for lunch, the volunteers appeared to work together as a well-oiled taco-making machine to the uninformed observer. Paying close attention to make sure that each taco was touching the one before it, volunteers moved along the tables systematically as they made, folded and numbered the tacos in the line.
According to the 2013 Class Council President and junior Asad Arastu, the volunteers, made up of students and Wilson Commons staff members, were all people who felt passionate about the event and wanted to be a part of UR history.
All of the volunteers did their part in successfully snatching the record from Michigan State’s grasp, but the question remains: Why tacos?
Breaking the record for the longest taco chain is not UR’s first brush with Guinness World Record fame. In 2003 a team led by Professor Lukas Novotny of the Institute of Optics captured the highest resolution image ever taken.
Three years later, the UR football team was present when the crowd broke the record for the largest kazoo ensemble during halftime at the Courage Bowl.
In UR’s most recent attempt to claim a world record, the inspiration to create the world’s longest taco line came from the 2013 Class Council and was specifically the “brainchild” of Programming Chair and junior Nicholas Lewandowski, according to the 2013 Class Council Secretorian and junior Ellie Sacks.
“We really wanted to do something different that no other class has done before,” Arastu said of the council’s efforts.
Other than the fact that it is a unique challenge, the class council also considered what roles the community could play in breaking the world record. By offering the chance to build and then eat the tacos that were crucial to making history, more people could be involved — a factor that eventually caused the 2013 Class Council to make the world’s longest taco line a reality.
“Everybody loves food and it brings the community together,” Arastu said. “Everything else didn’t seem as people-oriented.”
Those in attendance were very excited about the tacos. As the final measurements were being taken, with “We are the Champions” by Queen blaring over the speakers in the background, all eyes were fixed upon the world’s longest taco line. Spectators waited with baited breath until they could get their hands on a piece of lunch or, better yet, a piece of history.
Additional reporting by Tim Minahan, class of 2012.
Olfano is a member of the class of 2012.