Since 1955, many Guinness World Records categories have been discontinued. Here are a few highlights.
In the 1983 edition, Edward Abraham Miller (b.1909) of Oakland, California was recognised as the world’s greatest trencherman. He consumed up to 25,000 calories per day and was undefeated in eating contests since 1922. In the 1990s, we stopped monitoring these records and now don’t accept any applications for unfettered gluttony. Note, however, that we still have consumption records but they are now based on the rate of consumption and so are limited to a short time frame (such as most ice-cream eaten in 30 seconds) or a given number/weight of an item (e.g., fastest time to eat three cream crackers).
'Trencherman' consumption records listed in a 1960's edition of the Guinness Book of Records
Jack Keyes, 23 of Londonderry, Northern Ireland was celebrated in the 1970 book for drinking 36 pints in 60 minutes in Blackpool, Lancashire, UK in 1969
Human achievements from the 1955 first edition
• Heaviest pets
In previous editions, the editors recorded heaviest animals and pets such as the fattest cat. The heaviest cat of all, for example, was Himmy, owned by Thomas Vyse (Australia), who weighed 21.3kg (46lb 15 ½ oz) when it died on 12th March 1986 at the age of 10 years 4 months. Himmy – who had to be transported in a wheelbarrow – was thankfully unchallenged until 1998, when editors and record managers decided to discontinue the category to deter people from over-feeding their pets just to appear in the book. Today, we still monitor animal weight and size by breed – such as the largest breed of horse – but not individual specimens.
Kato from Sogndal, Norway was celebrated for his size and weight (16.7kg/36lb) in 1998
• Driving around the world at speed
High-speed circumnavigations by car were a common feature of earlier editions, but by 1996, we stopped accepted new claims, owing the danger of driving over national speed limits. We still accept claims for round-the-world driving records but only in relation to fuel economy – not speed.
• Controversial animal sports
Unsavoury or controversial animal sports records have now been excised from the record books; indeed, careful consideration is given to any record claim involving animals. Early editions registered records in relation to, among other categories, fox hunting (the largest fox ever killed by a hunt in England was 23 ¾ lb and was achieved in Cumberland by an Ullswater Hunt in 1936), bull fighting, elephant polo and camel wrestling – none of which are accepted now.
• Environmental challenges
Record managers are sensitive to record attempts that prove detrimental to the environment. The record for the most kongming lanterns (sky lanterns) flown simultaneously, for example, was rested due to environmental concerns. The record was 15,185 and was achieved by the Middle Way Meditation Institute (Philippines) in Miago, Iloilo, Philippines on 24th May 2013.
• UK/England/Scotland records
The very first edition of our book was intended for UK distribution only, so English, Scottish and UK records were sometimes included; GWR now only monitors world records to ensure that we document only the absolute superlatives.