Seven hundred people made history today at the Which Wich Superior Sandwiches Guinness World Record Spreading Party. In just one hour, volunteers made 39,303 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, setting a new record for the Guinness Book of World Records.
This is not the first time Which Wich hosted a spreading party--or even the first time they set a world record. In Jan. 2015, Which Wich made 26,000 sandwiches, setting the record. However, when they discovered that a school in South Africa had upped the record to 37,558 PB&Js, Which Wich decided to take it back.
In order to set the record, every sandwich must be eaten. Which Wich gives all of their sandwiches to 14 local charities such as Salvation Army, Tarrant Area Food Bank, Ronald McDonald House and more. When Which Wich makes more sandwiches than local charities need, they distribute the rest by hand; in Jan. 2015, they had 2,000 extra to distribute.
"We went to the homeless downtown and one lady asked a homeless man if he wanted any. He recognized the sticker on the bag and said he'd already gotten two earlier from a food bank. He'd eaten one and was saving the second for later," cofounder Courtney Sinelli said.
"It was just one of those moments where I realized: this actually works like it's supposed to."
With over 50 members from the Which Wich corporate office around, the event helped connect Which Wich employees.
"It's both a service event and a team-building event," Vice President of Corporate Communications Hala Habal said. But most of the sandwich-makers had no Which Wich connection.
Although Volunteers came from all over, many were attending a Sysco Food conference at the Gaylord Texan Convention Center, the same place the sandwiches were made. Sysco Food invited conference attendees to join the spreading party as both an opportunity to set a record and to serve the community. It was the perfect opportunity for people in the food business.
"I like to feed people. That's what I'm in the business for," participant Michelle Devaney said after finishing, adding she felt "exhilarated" by their success.
Erika Berez was in town with her husband and children for the conference. Berez didn't join her husband and children at the spreading party until the last ten minutes.
"I should have started at the beginning because I was fast. I cook every day," Berez said after finishing. "It's the first time my kids helped. They're so excited and they want to help again."
The opportunity to serve in a more hands-on way attracted plenty of volunteers, including retired Dallas Cowboys running back Herschel Walker.
"I want to give to somebody, help somebody," Walker said. "I don't think I was good at the assembly lines, but they had me stacking and bagging them instead."
Eric Thornton, a youth group leader at West Erwin Church of Christ, brought 13 youth members as part of a "mystery trip."
"We saw an opportunity to volunteer and give back to the local food banks and community and we said yes!" Thornton said.
Others simply thought it sounded fun.
"It sounds pretty cool to be in the Guinness Book of World Records," participant Jessica Amaris said before beginning. "I'm looking forward to the atmosphere of winning a challenge."
Rolling Stones' "Start Me Up" played and Which Wich employees applauded as the volunteers entered the room. The music continued throughout, and the room didn't go silent until it was time to here the final number.
"I love the music and watching how excited everyone gets as they're working, and the positive energy," Sinelli said.
Several sponsors provided the ingredients, including 89,640 bread slices, 3,960 pounds of peanut butter and 3,366 pounds of jelly.
Guinness World Record Judge Michael Empric walked around counting sandwiches and ensuring they were abiding by the rules: two ingredients in every sandwich and bread slices aligned.
"What I love about this particular record is even if they don't break the record, what they're doing is so much more important," Empric said. "It's a great opportunity for them to bring the team together and give to charity."
Which Wich gives back to the community in many ways. Every $3 PB&J bought at the register results in two given away: one to the local community, and one more nationally or internationally, frequently as relief after natural disaster.
"It's important to us to have a regular commitment to feed people in the community," Sinelli said.
"It's always good to be able to make history," participant Rick Seegmiller said after finishing.