15-ton hummus record bid ‘foiled’ by Guinness security jitters

Filmmaker cries discrimination after Irish officials decline to check out planned largest chickpea paste plate

Employees of the Abu Gosh restaurant prepare a 4-ton bowl of hummus for a Guinness World Record in 2010. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)
Employees of the Abu Gosh restaurant prepare a 4-ton bowl of hummus for a Guinness World Record in 2010. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

Preparing 15 tons of hummus should suffice to earn the world record for the largest hummus plate, Oren Rosenfeld thought.

But when the 39-year-old Israeli organizing the record attempt contacted Guinness World Records, they declined to send an adjudicator to Israel, citing security concerns.

“When everything was set in time and place, I decided it was time to contact Guinness,” said Rosenfeld. “But that’s when it started to get complicated.”

A Guinness official responded via email to his inquiry in early July that they “wouldn’t be able to provide an official adjudicator to attend the record breaking event in Israel” because of a “security warning.”

Rosenfeld then completed a risk assessment form, but was informed that Guinness’ decision had not changed.

Israeli photojournalist and filmmaker Oren Rosenfeld. (courtesy)
Israeli photojournalist and filmmaker Oren Rosenfeld. (courtesy)

“Guinness World Record’s decision to travel is informed by expert advice from a number of sources, including the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the US Department of State,” a representative from the organization explained.

Rosenfeld, a filmmaker looking to set the record in early October as part of a documentary he is producing about hummus, said the decision struck him as bizarre, given past record attempts in Israel.

In June, a magician in Haifa set the world record for the largest magic lesson, and in 2014, former president Shimon Peres held the largest online civics class.

According to Guinness World Records, however, although a judge from the organization will not be present, there are other ways to verify a world record.

“Where travel to a particular region is not recommended,” the group explained, “GWR is able to offer alternative methods of record verification.”

Though Lebanon now holds the hummus record from a 10-ton effort in 2010, Rosenfeld’s hummus plate is expected to weigh 15 tons. It would mark the next feat in what many have called the “war of hummus” between Israel and Lebanon, which both claim ownership of the beloved Middle Eastern dish.

Responding to the question of whether any controversy surrounds the record attempt, Rosenfeld wrote in his risk assessment form for Guinness, “Not that we know of, it’s about [a] popular middle eastern food Hummus claimed by all and owned by none.”

He was intending to break the record as part of a large public event in either Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park or Jerusalem’s Sacher Park.

Rosenfeld warned that Guinness’s refusal to send an adjudicator to Israel could bring up larger questions of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias.

“I don’t want to speculate and call them anti-Semites, but I’m sure people can look between the lines and make their own decisions,” Rosenfeld said.

Guinness World Records, meanwhile, denied Rosenfeld’s claim, saying they “refused to accept” his position that his world record bid had been refused.

“In the case of Mr. Rosenfeld,” the group said, “we would like to clarify that the opportunity to break a GWR title remains completely open, with several alternative options having been offered.”

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