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UMass breaks Guinness World Record for largest fresh fruit salad

University of Massachusetts student volunteers and dining staff furiously hauled, dumped and raked 15,291 pounds of fruit into a swimming pool on Monday, breaking the Guinness World Record for largest fresh fruit salad.

“At UMass, anything is possible, anything,” said Ken Toong, executive director of auxiliary enterprises, before the last of the fruit was tossed in by Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy.

Justin Surgent/Daily Collegian

The salad’s goal weight was 15,000 pounds, and 150 different types of fruit were incorporated to commemorate the University’s sesquicentennial. Half of the fruit came from local farmers and UMass Cold Spring Orchard was one of the biggest contributors, according to Toong.

About 500 student volunteers signed up for shifts between 8 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., well over the 150-volunteer goal. Many washed and sliced fruit, and at times there were so many volunteers that some students were delegated to pick up trash.

[See also: Video of UMass breaking record for largest fruit salad]

Jessica Murphy, a freshman who worked the event, wished that she had come earlier.

“Volunteer early… because we missed out on the chopping part, but picking up trash is useful as well,” she said..

“It was fun,” said freshman Astrid Warny, Murphy’s friend and fellow volunteer.

As the swimming pool was filled with fruit, UMass Dining workers combed through the mixture of apples, bananas, berries, currants, cherries, mint, grapefruits, grapes, mangos, melons, oranges, papayas, peaches, pears, pineapples, plums, kiwis and other fruits to stir the salad.

One onlooker was Rebecca Spencer, assistant professor of psychology. She came with her daughters, Finnley and Noa.

“It was pretty cool,” Spencer said. “I think it’s good… any way that we can bring some recognition, just excitement to the start of school for the students… is a great way to get the year started.”

Mike Cuvellier, a junior, also enjoyed the spectacle.

“It’s very colorful, it looks great,” he said. “It helps us stay healthy… it keeps a very positive healthy message going.”

Project Manager Christopher Howland said that healthy eating was a factor in choosing to do a fruit salad to break UMass Dining’s fourth consecutive Guinness World Record with larger-than-life portions.

“UMass Dining always encourages people to eat healthy, eat sustainably,” he said. He also explained that the Pioneer Valley is filled with fruit.

“There’s a lot of fruit available, like cantaloupe, watermelon, lots of different varieties of apples and peaches, we have plums, we have grapes…there’s a very big variety,” he said.

They also froze blueberries and strawberries over the summer to use for the event. July is the peak season for the blueberries, according to Howland.

Executive chef Oliver de Volpi, who broke the Guinness World Record for the largest fruit salad last year at McGill University with an 11,197-pound salad, also helped out at the event and contributed his own experience when the fruit salad was in its planning phase.

“You guys have definitely stepped it up a notch, not just in the volume, but 150 kinds of fruit isn’t easy to find,” he said. “And you know breaking our record by about 3,000 pounds is also a pretty impressive feat.”

Celebrity chef Jet Tila, who has made appearances on the Food Network, also helped compile the salad. In recent years, Tila has contributed to UMass Dining’s record-breaking food history, including the world’s longest California roll, largest stir-fry and largest New England seafood stew at UMass.

UMass Dining officials made plans to put every pound of fruit to good use after it was served at the barbecue, wasting none of it. They used 5,000 pounds that day for smoothies at the Welcome Barbecue and 3,000 pounds for dining hall dinner service and late night menu items after the barbecue. UMass Dining also plans to freeze 2,000 pounds for baked items, use 2,000 pounds for smoothies the next morning, 2,000 pounds for jam and 1,000 pounds in UMass Dining retail locations.

At Monday’s barbecue, many students took a cup of the fruit salad along for a refreshing dessert. One freshman, Gordon Swain, thought it was especially delicious.

“I think that it was yummy, it was really tasty,” he said. “I really like the variety of fruit because a lot of it was kind of squishy but then the really crunchy apples, they really helped balance the texture.”

All of the fruit was paid for by sponsors, including Dole, Barilla and Coca-Cola.

Mary Reines can be reached at mreines@student.umass.edu.

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