took to world record-breaking in
2004 after being inspired by a record-setting rally
driver in Kenya. What began as a hobby soon escalated
into an active publicity pursuit. Today, he promotes the
work of social and environmental causes. For these
purposes, the most fitting game plans are chosen; then
world titles are attempted and frequently created.
Wall Street Journal:
Shaking On It in Times Square
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Most M&M pretzel candies moved with a straw in 1 minute: 60
This is the story behind my Guinness World Record™ for the Most M&M pretzel candies moved with a straw in 1 minute.
M&M pretzels are special things. Someone recently told me they thought the pretzel type isn’t real M&Ms, but I don’t care! And I mean that, because M&M pretzels earned me another world record this week. This time the title came with a headache.
I’d seen a young American man picking up the pretzels, one at a time with a straw, and dropping them into a container nearby. Within seconds, I’d thought of a way to improve on his speed. “Then do it to prove you can!” I told myself, and jumped out of my chair. With my hands in my hair, I paced back and forth across my carpet until I had a rough plan: if I used the broadest straw possible and trained myself to breathe in a rhythm, I might do well at this.
Some years before, a friend had taken me to a local café for a milkshake which could have been mistaken for grease, it was so thick. Thinking back, I recalled where the place was and asked for a single straw. The young Asian lady, frowning, handed me one. I smiled, spun on my heels and left.
Did that petite young woman know her straw would be attached to a world record attempt within a week? I bet not. Next, I began concentrating on my breathing. Having been to meditation classes, I thought how I could use what I’d seen there to help. But I soon discovered that breathing for meditative relaxation and speedy inhalation was completely different. While waiting at a traffic light, I placed the straw between my lips and pursed them. Focusing on the red light ahead, I breathed in slightly, held the air and then exhaled quickly. I snatched the straw and breathed in deeply. That was achievable, I figured. But I had it wrong.
The red light, I was convinced, had got stuck. With the straw back in my mouth, I breathed in, held it, breathed out and did it once more. Twice more. And again and again. I could do this easily, I thought, so I increased the speed of my in-out, in-out breathing. The traffic light turned green. As I stepped forward, while removing the saliva-smothered straw, my balance failed. I tripped momentarily, stumbled and dashed forward. Even though my brain was clearly oxygen-starved right then, I had the wherewithal to look left and right repeatedly. I wasn’t looking for cars, though – I was worried about who was watching what they might have thought was the latest oddball to land in their neighbourhood. “It’s only me folks” I felt like yelling. But I hung my head low and walked off in quite some hurry.
Back home, I lay down on the sofa and resumed practising my breathing. That was a much more sensible place to do it – the most dangerous thing that happened was I fell asleep. Awaking a while later, I wondered about what else I needed so I’d succeed. Not much, I decided; not much, except that the M&M pretzels I had to use weren’t normally sold locally.
That wasn’t an issue though. A specialist importer had them at a dreadfully high price which I didn’t mind paying because the lure of a world record was too much to resist. With bags of the pretzels in hand, I sped home on my bicycle, ripped open the packets and emptied them onto the side plate I’d used the night before. I reread the rules and tried my skill for the first time.
You could have seen it was my first try: I dropped almost every one I tried to suck against the end of the straw. And that told me what I already knew. The answer to my poor performance was in practise. I shuffled on my office chair, took a deep breath and settled in there for the next 2 hours.
That’s right – 2 hours of constantly sucking a straw, spitting at M&Ms down the straw, swinging my head fast from the plate full of pretzels to the container which was gradually filled each time, and all the while ensuring I didn’t fall off my swivel chair. I’m a relatively skilled chap, so I’m pleased to say I didn’t fall from my chair even once. And I’m proud of that.
I’d been booked to give a storytelling presentation and I wanted to show the children how exciting M&Ms can be for uses other than eating. So I was keen to video myself succeeding. There was only one way and that was to remain seated with a straw in my mouth!
To ensure I got no visitors while practising more, I shut my curtains the next afternoon and spent nearly 7 hours with the little coloured morsels. I sucked. I blew. I spat. I inhaled. I exhaled. I twisted my neck this way and that. I tried and tried and tried. It just wasn’t working for me.
Then I got smart. I constructed my own vessel into which to drop the pretzels. This meant I could angle its opening towards the straw, which I hoped would save a fraction of a second each time I leaned over to it. How clever am I… my plan worked and very soon, I was repeatedly getting 55 or more pretzels into the container within the allowed minute. That’s what I like to see.
Naturally I wanted to succeed every time, so I’d take deep breaths to start, then race through the process and hold onto my desk for a few seconds while the dizziness faded. But I wasn’t satisfied with 56, 57, 58 or 59 as my score. I wanted 60. With brute determination, I forced myself to stay seated – without tea, coffee, water or food – until I succeeded at transferring 60 pretzels in a minute.
I knew I could do this, and, because I believed in myself, I managed it. What a great feeling it was to finally get what I was aiming for. I took special care to count the pretzels carefully and show the evidence clearly so the judges could see that I’d really done it. Within an hour, I’d done what was needed and then I concentrated on planning for another world record, knowing I’d soon get the result.
The result was great news when it came: I’d been crowned the new world champion for moving M&M pretzels the fastest in a minute with a straw. You may not think that’s not much of an accolade, but to me it means everything. What do you think was the first thing I did when finding out this news?
Dead right – I burst into squeals of excitement, and turned my living room into a tiny temporary dance floor. This news was too good not to celebrate.
Some days later I delivered my presentation and showed the young children how I could use M&M pretzels. They loved the video and spent more than an hour trying to beat me. The staff and I were amused by the children’s energetic enthusiasm. They’re cute, and I love the way my presentations motivate little people to try being their best – just like that day.
Standing in the school hall watching these youngsters - the world’s next generation - sent me thinking about a more serious topic. If I can inspire little children to play with chocolate so easily, I can inspire them to heal some of the damage which generations of people have done to our world.
It is these youngsters who will need to make choices in their adulthood about using solar and wind energy to stop polluting nature; they will need to make laws to stop people wasting things the world can’t give us much more of; they will have to educate their friends about how to care for animals and plants so we can all live together. And I can do my bit to help, by using examples in my storytelling and record-breaking… just as you’re reading right here.