World record attempt a burst bubble

  • Pop the world record
    Pop the world record
    Over 200 William & Mary students gathered in the Wren courtyard to participate in Pop the World Record, an attempt to break the official Guinness world record for most people blowing a chewing gum bubble simultaneously.
    Photo by Graham Bryant '13
  • Blow big or go home
    Blow big or go home
    According to official Guinness rules, participants must chew the gum for at least a minute before blowing a bubble. Bubbles must remain inflated for at least 30 seconds to count toward the record.
    Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • The perils of bubbles
    The perils of bubbles
    Breezy conditions during the attempt made maintaining bubbles for the full 30 seconds a challenge. When the same wind blew long hair into a collapsing bubble, catastrophic deflation often ensued.
    Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • A valiant effort
    A valiant effort
    Even though William & Mary did not break the record, the attempt was still a worthwhile endeavor to participants and organizers alike. “Although we didn't break the world record, we had a record amount of fun and can only hope you did as well!” wrote organizer Allison Prell '15 on the event’s Facebook page.
    Photo by Graham Bryant '13

Friday afternoon poised a pink and sticky predicament for the organizers of Pop the World Record, an attempt by William & Mary students to break the official Guinness world record for most people blowing a chewing gum bubble simultaneously.

The attempt sought to win the title from Nintendo of America, which set the record on Sept. 1, 2012 with 536 participants. 

The problem arose when around half that number gathered in the Wren courtyard, two pieces of specially selected gum in hand, to challenge the record. 

{{youtube:medium:left|jSttBnMX3g0, Bubble bust: W&M attempts world record}}

While the attempt was unsuccessful, it nonetheless met with great support from the campus community. 

“I saw this giant group of people around the Wren courtyard and heard the music, so I came over. I saw that they’re trying to set another world record, and I love setting world records, so I’m really excited about this,” said Caleb Elgut ’14, one of many participants who joined the attempt after walking across Old Campus and noticing the hubbub near Wren. 

Student Affairs and the Office of Community Engagement both helped sponsor the event, according to Girolama Bui ’13, one of the event’s organizers.

Alyssa Zhu ’14 and Ryan Fowler ’14, both marketing majors, teamed up to design posters, manage a Facebook event, create a Tumblr microblog and orchestrate a series of videos to promote the record attempt, including one featuring College President Taylor Reveley

“It’s amazing when you have the president of the College supporting your event, especially when this is something that we independently started. It’s that feeling of pride of being at William & Mary,” Zhu said. 

Pop the World Record is not William & Mary’s only world record attempt in recent memory. In 2009, students successfully set a new world record for the most people simultaneously dancing to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” Many of the bubble-blowing event’s organizers helped orchestrate an attempt to break the world spooning record last year. 

Allison Prell ’15 spearheaded that effort after unsuccessfully attempting a world record at her high school. While the official results of the spooning record are still pending, the team wasted little time in returning to the Guinness website in search of a potential second record attempt in as many years. 

“We have to do something quirky that people would want to do and would be fun to do. We saw the bubblegum one and said ‘that’s the one!’” Bui said.

Even though William & Mary did not break the record, the attempt was still a worthwhile endeavor to participants and organizers alike. 

“I didn’t actually know [the other organizers] that well until we did this, and now we’ve gotten a lot closer,” said Zhu. “We’ve definitely bonded over the meetings we’ve had.”

The friends who put together the event hardly seem daunted by their setback. 

“Although we didn't break the world record, we had a record amount of fun and can only hope you did as well!” wrote Prell on the event’s Facebook page.