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UMass Amherst sets world record with 15,000-pound fruit salad

  • A group of University of Massachusetts student volunteers, left, pour fruit salad into a swimming pool to create what would become the Guinness World Record largest fruit salad at over 15,000 pounds Monday during the university's Welcome Back Barbecue at the Haigis Mall. At far right, Michael Empric, an adjudicator for Guinness World Records, looks on. <br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    A group of University of Massachusetts student volunteers, left, pour fruit salad into a swimming pool to create what would become the Guinness World Record largest fruit salad at over 15,000 pounds Monday during the university's Welcome Back Barbecue at the Haigis Mall. At far right, Michael Empric, an adjudicator for Guinness World Records, looks on.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Close-up of the world's largest fruit salad Monday at the University of Massachusetts.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Close-up of the world's largest fruit salad Monday at the University of Massachusetts.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • A group of University of Massachusetts student volunteers, left, pour fruit salad into a swimming pool to create what would become the Guinness World Record largest fruit salad at over 15,000 pounds Monday during the university's Welcome Back Barbecue at the Haigis Mall. At far right, Michael Empric, an adjudicator for Guinness World Records, looks on.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    A group of University of Massachusetts student volunteers, left, pour fruit salad into a swimming pool to create what would become the Guinness World Record largest fruit salad at over 15,000 pounds Monday during the university's Welcome Back Barbecue at the Haigis Mall. At far right, Michael Empric, an adjudicator for Guinness World Records, looks on.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • A group of University of Massachusetts student volunteers, left, pour fruit salad into a swimming pool to create what would become the Guinness World Record largest fruit salad at over 15,000 pounds Monday during the university's Welcome Back Barbecue at the Haigis Mall. JERREY ROBERTS

    A group of University of Massachusetts student volunteers, left, pour fruit salad into a swimming pool to create what would become the Guinness World Record largest fruit salad at over 15,000 pounds Monday during the university's Welcome Back Barbecue at the Haigis Mall. JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • A group of University of Massachusetts student volunteers, left, pour fruit salad into a swimming pool to create what would become the Guinness World Record largest fruit salad at over 15,000 pounds Monday during the university's Welcome Back Barbecue at the Haigis Mall. At far right, Michael Empric, an adjudicator for Guinness World Records, looks on. <br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Close-up of the world's largest fruit salad Monday at the University of Massachusetts.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • A group of University of Massachusetts student volunteers, left, pour fruit salad into a swimming pool to create what would become the Guinness World Record largest fruit salad at over 15,000 pounds Monday during the university's Welcome Back Barbecue at the Haigis Mall. At far right, Michael Empric, an adjudicator for Guinness World Records, looks on.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • A group of University of Massachusetts student volunteers, left, pour fruit salad into a swimming pool to create what would become the Guinness World Record largest fruit salad at over 15,000 pounds Monday during the university's Welcome Back Barbecue at the Haigis Mall. JERREY ROBERTS

The campus welcomed students back with its Labor Day barbecue and, for the fourth year in a row, set a new world record as a bonus.

The campus, largely through the efforts of 500 volunteers, created the world’s largest fresh fruit salad.

That concoction, comprised of 150 types of fruit, weighed in at 15,291 pounds, breaking the record of 11,197 pounds set last year at McGill University in Montreal.

UMass spokesman Ed Blaguszewski said about $38,000 was raised to cover the cost of the event and university funds weren’t used. Instead, money was provided by corporate sponsors including Dole, Kittredge Equipment and Coca-Cola, said Blaguszewski.

The money went for things like tent and equipment rentals and to compensate visiting chefs and Guinness World Record Adjudicator Michael Empric, Blaguszewski said.

The preparation and weighing of the salad was monitored by Empric, who said that in order to count as an official world record, a salad has to be made from at least five types of fruit and all of the fruit must be raw; no frozen or canned varieties allowed.

Organizers had put out the call for 150 volunteers to help peel, slice and chop up the ingredients — and got 500 instead.

The project manager, Christopher Howland, said planning for the attempt began around April, as organizers wanted to do something that would involve as much local food as possible.

Howland said about half of all of the fruit used in the salad came from local growers, including the watermelons, blueberries and cantaloupe.

Howland said it was important to shoot for a record the campus could break, but would use food that could be re-purposed to eliminate waste.

Garret DiStefano, director of residential dining services, said a 15-foot diameter, 4-foot high steel swimming pool, donated by Teddy Bear Pools, was used to collect and weigh the thousands of pounds of fruits that were being sliced up throughout the day.

Once the fruit was sliced, it was put into plastic tubs and refrigerated to avoid spoiling and contamination until it was time for the weigh-in, shortly after 4 p.m.

A specially constructed platform was designed by UMass engineering professor Scott Civjan to support the pool and the 7½ tons of fruit inside it.

Four tractor-trailer truck scales were set at each of the pool’s four corners to weigh the salad.

After the official weigh-in and the presentation of the certificate for breaking the record, hundreds of people began lining up to walk past the pool of fruit, most snapping pictures.

UMass Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy added the last few pounds of fruit to the salad himself and said part of the idea of setting a record with fruit salad came from thousands of surveys from campus diners asking for more fresh fruits and vegetables in their meals.

If anyone had any misgivings about being served salad scooped from the pool with plastic shovels by volunteers in plastic jumpsuits and rubber boots, it didn’t show. Scores lined up to indulge in the record-breaking treat.

DiStefano said about 5,000 pounds of the salad — about one-third of it — was to be eaten Monday. The remaining 10,000 pounds will be used in a variety of ways including being turned into smoothies and served at the campus dining commons, frozen for future use and turned into jams and baked goods.

DiStefano estimated Monday’s crowd in the “thousands” and said it was the largest group at the annual event he’s seen yet.

Two of those, Leah Berlin, a sophomore who transferred from Tufts University, and Erin McLoon, a sophomore who transferred from the University of Vermont, said they appreciated the event, the local produce used and the variety of fruits gathered.

“It tastes like health,” McLoon said.

Bob Dunn can be reached at bdunn@gazettenet.com.

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