It's official — almost.
The city of Phoenix can now lay claim to having constructed the longest taco in human history. At 177 feet, it blew away the previous record of 121 feet.
A dedicated group of taco engineers gathered at The Shoppes at Exit 24 to begin the massive construction project at just before 5 p.m. as part of the Phoenix Phestival. With tape measures out, they began laying down tortillas on top of a makeshift table. They quickly plopped shredded marinated chicken on top of the tortillas to keep them from flying away in the breeze. Lettuce, salsa and cheese soon followed.
One extended table wasn't big enough to accommodate the entire taco, so it was snaked around in a daisy chain. Around 200 spectators gathered to see the event. A spicy aroma filled the air as onlookers were serenaded by live music and the smell of spiced chicken in the afternoon sunshine.
Most of the ingredients and cooking-know-how were provided by Katrina's Home-Made Salsa, Si Casa Flores Restaurant, The Old Farm House Restaurant and Foster Farms. For $5 dollars, buyers got two tacos and a bumper sticker saying they ate the World's Longest Taco. Proceeds benefitted the Phoenix Community Kitchen.
Cameras were rolling the whole time to document the feat — they had to be. Guinness World Records will only certify the taco record if it's continuously filmed and photographed. Additionally, it must be measured by an independent surveyor.
Phoenix Phestival events coordinator Jeff Jones said the record for taco length wouldn't be official until Guinness had reviewed the measurements and film. He said that Guinness could have provided an on-scene verification, but that would have cost organizers around $7,000.
The previous record for a line of tacos was held by the dining facilities and students at Emory University near Atlanta, Ga., in February. That taco line featured cod as the main ingredient and stretched 121 feet.
Mike Shepard of Si Casa Flores said after watching video of the Emory University record, he knew he could do better.
"I watched them, and I watched the way they move, and it just wasn't as fast as I thought we could be," Shepard said." We sort of do ours like an assembly line, I don't want to give everything a way, but the way we move is a part of it."
Using a team of about 14, the taco was completed in about 15 minutes.
Shepard also said the Emory team was missing one other key ingredient.
"They don't have Si Casa Flores sauce," he said.
After the final measurements were taken at about 5:20 p.m. Jones was as anxious to get rid of the taco as he was to build it.
"Let's get this taco eaten up," he announced to the crowd over a microphone. "We don't want any of this taco left."
The audience seemed happy to oblige him and went to work. By about 5:45 p.m. all evidence of the world's longest taco ever existing had been reduced to a few scraps of lettuce, some spilled cheese and salsa, and a lot of napkins.
Regardless, many were beaming about the accomplishment.
Mike Foster, who works with the Phoenix Community Kitchen and who helped build the taco, put it modestly.
"We're going to make this one of the most historical events in history," he said.
So, even if the Phestival managed to build the world's longest taco, how did it taste?
"It's good," said 14-year-old Ethan Baker of Medford. "I'm a fan of crunchy tacos, but the soft one's OK."
Mat Wolf is a reporting intern from the University of Oregon. Reach him at 541-776-4481 or by email at email@example.com.
It's official — almost.