Nearly 500 dessert lovers help Tanger set record

05/18/2011 11:49 AM |

A delicious piece of history was made at Tanger Outlets in Riverhead last Thursday, where 487 people raised a cookie, brownie or cupcake in unison and took synchronized bites — all in hopes of entering the Guinness Book of World Records for the grandest dessert party ever.

Simultaneous parties were held at Tanger’s 34 outlet centers — which were collectively trying to break the record — with 6,997 people taking part in all. The event, held in celebration of the outlet chain’s 30th anniversary, crushed the paltry record of 250 people that had been on the books for the largest dessert party ever. Riverhead’s 487 participants alone were enough alone to break the record, though the Tanger in Foley, Ala., drew the largest crowd, with 553 in attendance.

In Riverhead, volunteers feverishly tried to count all 487 participants, slapping stickers on them before the countdown to consumption. On the count of three, everyone in the roped off area of the Tanger 2 parking lot took a bite. Participants had to stay inside the area for 15 minutes for the record to count.

People came from all over Long Island to snag a free treat, including Doris Wilk of East Patchogue. “I had everything that wasn’t nailed down,” she said, adding that she recently lost 100 pounds by following the Weight Watchers diet plan. “I think I put everything back on.”

Two witnesses, Suffolk County Legislator Ed Romaine (R-Center Moriches) and Riverhead school board president Ann Cotten-Degrasse signed the proper paperwork and made the count official.

Students from Suffolk County Community College’s Culinary Arts Department spent two days baking 2,000 desserts, which were boxed up and picked up by Tanger staff. The students began baking the dough a week in advance, according to SCCC associate dean Dave Bergen.

Many participants helped themselves to more than one dessert, as there was not a single cookie, brownie or cupcake left moments after the results were tallied.

“They did a fantastic job,” Janine Nebons, general manager of the Riverhead Tanger, said of the culinary students.

Ms. Nebons said her office began planning the event a month in advance, and that one of the most tedious tasks was making sure the menu was just right.

“All of the food had to be approved by Guinness,” she said. “They had very strict guidelines.”

Ms. Nebons speculated that if the event had been held at 2 p.m., as it was at Tanger Outlets in the Central Time Zone, Riverhead could have had the highest attendance since it would not have interfered with school dismissal.

Certainly the outlet stores tried to capitalize on the captivated audience of potential shoppers Thursday morning.

Lenox store employee Colin Dunne of Mattituck said his manager handed him a stack of coupons and told him to hand them out to guests.

“500 people? Not bad,” Mr. Dunne said of the event’s attendance.

Bruce Tria, owner and weekday morning DJ at Riverhead-based WRIV 1390 AM, presided as master of ceremonies and said he was happy to support the outlet center, which has hosted numerous events in support of community organizations.

“It’s the single largest retail operation in Riverhead Town, and we’re happy to be a part of it,” Mr. Tria said.

[email protected]