UMass holds world’s largest clambake

By Jaclyn Bryson

Students at the University of Massachusetts received lobsters and clams as part of the record-breaking clambake on Sept. 1 (Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)
Students at the University of Massachusetts received lobsters and clams as part of the record-breaking clambake on Sept. 1 (Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)

To kick off the start of the new academic year, the University of Massachusetts brought the community together on Labor Day to celebrate a New England tradition – the clambake.

“What’s more New England than a clambake?” said Christopher Howland, purchasing and marketing manager of Auxiliary Enterprises. “It’s synonymous with the Bay State. It’s something that we wanted for our students and staff to welcome them back.”

Although there was no previous Guinness World Record for largest clambake, according to a UMass press release, Guinness set the record at a minimum of 1,500 clambakes served to individuals in eight hours. Howland added that one serving of clambake included one chicken lobster, two little neck clams, one steamer, half an ear of corn and two potatoes for a total of approximately two pounds of produce and two pounds seafood. The goal was to serve 3,000 of those as quickly as possible.

“This is UMass Amherst, we’re bigger than the best,” said Garett DiStefano, director of Residential Dining. “We’re going to do much more than 1,500 and we are going to try and do it in only two hours.”

Students, faculty and Amherst residents waited in line as 100 steaming pots of steamers, little neck clams and locally sourced produce were prepared.

“The idea is to try and support as much as we possibly can and showcase the best that Massachusetts has to offer,” DiStefano said. These local specialties include Hadley corn and potatoes and lobsters from Massachusetts’ own fishermen.

To make the event possible, UMass received more than $70,000 from donations and sponsors, the highest ever raised for a UMass Dining world record, according to the release. The University has previously broken world records for the largest California roll, largest stir-fry, largest New England seafood stew and last year, the world’s largest fresh fruit salad.

Those who supported the event include Kittredge Equipment, Coca-Cola and Performance Food Group. In addition to the donations, 30 to 40 chefs and 200 active volunteers made the event possible.

Josh Webb, a sophomore who volunteered at last year’s barbeque, said he hopes people realize how much work goes into preparing the event.

“There’s a lot of preparation that people wouldn’t think about,” he said. “UMass Dining is a really amazing organization that can pull off a lot.”

The event also featured other freshly made options to welcome students back to campus, including blended beef-mushroom burgers, pineapple barbeque chicken, traditional macaroni and cheese and Asian slaw salad.

“We’re hoping to probably feed all day today, close to 10,000 people,” DiStefano said. “We just make it one big festivity.”

Yet despite the honor that goes along with beating a world record, the goal of this clambake was simply to bring everyone together after a long summer break.

“I feel like it brings the community together and shows how much spirit UMass has,” said freshman Charlotte Hoff.

“If a 10,000 person barbeque with a world record attempt is any indication of how much we want the students on campus, it just goes to show how much we care,” DiStefano added. “We’ll do anything we possibly can to improve the quality of life on campus.”

Jaclyn Bryson can be reached at [email protected]