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9 Halloween-Related Guinness World Records

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Halloween comes and goes each autumn, but these Guinness World Records last all year long (until someone sets a new one, that is). Here are 10 spooky, seasonal, and festive feats worth remembering.

1. WORLD'S LARGEST NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS COLLECTION

Think you’re a huge Tim Burton fan? Meet William Wong, a Hong Kong native who owns the world’s largest collection of The Nightmare Before Christmas memorabilia. Wong enjoyed the 1993 stop-motion classic so much that he’s spent the past 20 years collecting clothing, jewelry, dolls, books, kitchen appliances, and other pieces of memorabilia inspired by the film. The super-fan even owns a rare copy of the film’s official style guide.

In 2014, Wong received a Guinness World Record for his collection of 2020 items, which he showcases in a storefront he rents near his house. We’re sure it’s grown even more since then (although we don’t know how he’s going to top his The Nightmare Before Christmas toilet roll holder).

2. WORLD'S LARGEST CANDY

The world’s largest candy—a 3527-pound butterscotch sweet made by Norwegian confectionary company Nidar in 1997—could have probably satisfied the sweet tooth of every candy-craving child in Scandinavia. It was an oversize version of Nidar’s popular Smorbukk Butter Caramels, and measured 5 feet long and 5 feet wide. Now, if only someone could make the world’s largest Halloween candy pail …

3. WORLD'S LOUDEST SCREAM

Don’t sneak up on Jill Drake. In 2000, Drake, a teaching assistant from Kent, England, participated in a screaming competition in London’s Millennium Dome. Her screeching hit 129 decibels (around 10 decibels quieter than a jet engine taking off), and set a Guinness record for “loudest scream by an individual.” Drake’s impressive vocal cords ended up catching the attention of Disney, who invited her to travel to Los Angeles and scream for an hour to promote the park's then-scariest ride: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.

4. WORLD'S LARGEST "TIME WARP" DANCE

In 2010, cult classic film The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) turned 35. To honor the occasion, 8239 fans of the movie gathered to recreate its signature dance at the West Hollywood Halloween Carnival, setting a world record for the largest "Time Warp" dance.

5. WORLD'S LARGEST COLLECTION OF CANDY WRAPPERS

For Milan Lukich Valdivia, the best part of a piece of candy is its foil, paper, or plastic covering. Valdivia, who hails from Tacna, Peru, spent more than 30 years amassing thousands of candy wrappers from all over the world. As of December 2015, he owned the world's largest collection of them—5065 of them, to be precise, including ones from 49 countries.

6. WORLD'S LARGEST COLLECTION OF CLOWN-RELATED ITEMS

Lots of people are afraid of clowns, but Ortrud Kastaun, a woman from Essen, Germany, loves them. She was officially recognized for owning the world’s largest assemblage of model clowns—2053 individual figurines, to be exact—in October 2011.

Kastaun, who’s in her mid-60s, began collecting clowns nearly 20 years ago. Eventually, her hoard grew so large that she had to move to a larger apartment to house them all. Kastaun even established a home museum so visitors could see the smiling, red-nosed dolls for themselves.

While some consider clowns to be sinister, Kastaun—a recovering alcoholic—views them as a deeply personal talisman. Long ago, while in therapy, she was piecing a puzzle together of a jack-in-the-box clown, and “something just clicked,” Kastaun told Guinness World Records. She’s collected—and loved—them ever since.

7. WORLD'S HEAVIEST PUMPKIN

Currently, the world record for heaviest pumpkin officially belongs to a lopsided—yet massive—squash grown by Beni Meier of Switzerland. The 2323-pound pumpkin stole the show at the Belgium Giant Pumpkin European Championship in Ludwigsburg, in October 2014. But another big pumpkin—and its grower—might soon steal Meier’s title: Earlier this October, a Belgian man named Mathias Willemijns took home the grand prize from the same annual event after he displayed a 2624-pound pumpkin.

8. WORLD'S LARGEST GATHERING OF PEOPLE DRESSED AS GHOSTS

Singapore ain’t afraid of no ghosts. On June 12, 2016, Sony Pictures hosted a red carpet promotional event for 2016’s Ghostbusters reboot at the city’s Marina Bay Sands hotel. The occasion included appearances by leading lady Melissa McCarthy and director Paul Feig, but its highlight was when 263 individuals dressed as spooky specters convened to set the Guinness World Record for Largest Gathering of People Dressed as Ghosts.

9. MOST COSTUME CHANGE ILLUSIONS IN ONE MINUTE BY AN INDIVIDUAL

Typically, it’s only practical to buy—and wear—one Halloween costume, but if you’re Avery Chin and Sylvia Lim, all bets are off. In September 2016, the two magicians, who originally hail from Malaysia, broke the Guinness World Record for the “most costume change illusions in one minute.” Sylvia changed 18 times, and wore 19 different outfits—beating the previously held record (set by other Malaysian magicians only a few weeks prior) by two ensembles.

BONUS: WORLD'S LONGEST DISTANCE PADDLING IN A PUMPKIN (FORTHCOMING)

This one isn’t officially in the books quite yet, but this past October, a man named Rick Swenson from Fergus Falls, Minnesota tried to set a Guinness record for the longest distance paddling in a pumpkin. He sailed a hollowed-out, 1100-pound squash for 26 miles along the state’s Red River, and the journey took him 13 hours, 40 minutes. That being said, the boater has some competition. Another man, Todd Sandstrum from Easton, Massachusetts, is also vying for the record: In September, he paddled a 1240-pound pumpkin for eight miles down the local Taunton River.

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How to Carve a Pumpkin—And Not Injure Yourself in the Process
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Wielding a sharp knife with slippery hands around open flames and nearby children doesn't sound like the best idea—but that's exactly what millions of Halloween celebrations entail. While pumpkin carving is a fun tradition, it can also bring the risk of serious hand injuries. According to the American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH), some wounds sustained from pumpkin misadventure can result in surgery and months of rehabilitation.

Fortunately, there are easy ways to minimize trauma. Both ASSH and CTV News have compiled safety tips for pumpkin carvers intended to reduce the chances of a trip to the emergency room.

First, it's recommended that carvers tackle their design with knives made specifically for carving. Kitchen knives are sharp and provide a poor grip when trying to puncture tough pumpkin skin: Pumpkin carving knives have slip-resistant handles and aren't quite as sharp, while kitchen knives can get wedged in, requiring force to pull them out.

Carvers should also keep the pumpkin intact while carving, cleaning out the insides later. Why? Once a pumpkin has been gutted, you’re likely to stick your free hand inside to brace it, opening yourself up to an inadvertent stab from your knife hand. When you do open it up, it's better to cut from the bottom: That way, the pumpkin can be lowered over a light source rather than risk a burn dropping one in from the top.

Most importantly, parents would be wise to never let their kids assist in carving without supervision, and should always work in a brightly-lit area. Adults should handle the knife, while children can draw patterns and scoop out innards. According to Consumer Reports, kids ages 10 to 14 tend to suffer the most Halloween-related accidents, so keeping carving duties to ages 14 and above is a safe bet.

If all else fails and your carving has gone awry, have a first aid kit handy and apply pressure to any wound to staunch bleeding. With some common sense, however, it's unlikely your Halloween celebration will turn into a blood sacrifice.

[h/t CTV News]

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13 Secrets of Halloween Costume Designers
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For consumers, Halloween may be all about scares, but for businesses, it’s all about profits. According to the National Retail Federation, consumers will spend $9.1 billion this year on spooky goods, including a record $3.4 billion on costumes. “It’s an opportunity to be something you’re not the other 364 days of the year,” Jonathan Weeks, CEO of Costumeish.com, tells Mental Floss. “It feels like anything goes.”

To get a better sense of what goes into those lurid, funny, and occasionally outrageous disguises, we spoke to a number of designers who are constantly trying to react to an evolving seasonal market. Here’s what we learned about what sells, what doesn’t, and why adding a “sexy” adjective to a costume doesn’t always work.

1. SOME COSTUMES ARE JUST TOO OUTRAGEOUS FOR RETAIL

A woman models a scary nun costume for Halloween
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For kids, Halloween is a time to look adorable in exchange for candy. For adults, it’s a time to push the envelope. Sometimes that means provocative, revealing costumes; other times, it means going for shock value. “You get looks at a party dressed as an Ebola worker,” Weeks says. “We have pregnant nun costumes, baby cigarette costumes.” The catch: You won’t be finding these at Walmart. “They’re meant for online, not Spencer’s or Party City.”

2. … BUT THERE ARE SOME LINES THEY WON’T CROSS.

Homeowners are scared by trick-or-treaters on Halloween
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Although Halloween is the one day of the year people can deploy a dark sense of humor without inviting personal or professional disaster, some costume makers draw their own line when it comes to how far to exceed the boundaries of good taste. “We’ve never done a child pimp costume, but someone else has,” says Robert Berman, co-founder of Rasta Imposta, a business that broke into the industry on the strength of their fake dreadlock wig in 1992. Weeks says some questionable ideas that have been brought to the discussion table have stayed there. “There’s no toddler KKK costume or baby Nazi costume,” he says. “There is a line.”

3. THEY CAN DESIGN AND PRODUCE A COSTUME IN A MATTER OF DAYS.

A man models a costume in front of a mirror
Rob Stothard/Getty Images

A lot of costume interest comes from what’s been making headlines in the fall: Costumers have to be ready to meet that demand. “We’re pretty good at being able to react quickly,” says Pilar Quintana, vice-president of merchandising for Yandy.com. “Something happening in April may not be strong enough to stick around for Halloween.”

Because the mail-order site has in-house models and isn’t beholden to approval from big box vendors, Quintana can design and photograph a costume so it’s available within 72 hours. If it's more elaborate, it can take a little longer: Both Yandy and Weeks had costumes inspired by the Cecil the Lion story that broke in July 2015 (in which a trophy hunter from Minnesota killed an African lion) on their sites in a matter of weeks.

4. BEYONCE CAN HELP MOVE STALE INVENTORY.

A screen shot from Formation, a music video featuring Beyonce
beyonceVEVO, YouTube

Extravagant custom tailoring jobs aside, Halloween costumes are a business of instant demand and instant gratification—inventory needs to be plentiful in order to fill the deluge of orders that come in a short frame of time. If a business miscalculates the popularity of a given theme, they might be stuck with overstock until they can find a better idea to hang on it. “Last year, we had 400 or 500 Zorro costumes that we couldn’t sell for $10,” Weeks says. “It had a big black hat that came with it, and I thought, ‘That looks familiar.’ It turned out it looked a lot like the one Beyonce wore in her ‘Lemonade’ video.” Remarketed as a "Formation" hat for Beyonce cosplayers, Weeks moved his stock.

5. WOMEN DON’T USUALLY WEAR MASKS.

A man tries on a Joker mask at a retail store
Rhona Wise/Getty Images

Curiously, there’s a large gender gap when it comes to the sculpted latex monster masks offered by Halloween vendors: They’re sold almost exclusively to men. “There just aren’t a lot of masks with female characters,” Weeks says. “I don’t know why that is. Maybe it’s because men in general like gory, scary costumes.” One exception: Hillary Clinton masks, which were all the rage last year.

6. FOOD COSTUMES ARE ALWAYS A HIT.

A dog wears a hot dog costume for Halloween
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At Rasta Imposta, Berman says political and pop culture trends can shift their plans, but one theme is a constant: People love to dress up as food. “We’ve had big success with food items. Bananas, pickles. We did an avocado.” Demand for these faux-edible costumes can occasionally get ugly: Rasta is currently suing Sears and Kmart for selling a banana costume that they allege infringes on Rasta’s copyrighted version, which has blackened ends and a vertical stripe.

7. ADDING ”SEXY” TO EVERYTHING DOESN’T ALWAYS WORK.

A packaged Halloween costume hangs on a store rack
Saul Loeb/Getty Images

It’s a recurring joke that some costume makers only need to add a “sexy” adjective to a design concept in order to make it marketable. While there’s some truth to that—Quintana references Yandy’s “sexy poop emoji” costume—it’s no guarantee of success. “We had a concept for ‘sexy cheese’ that was a no-go,” she says. “'Sexy corn’ didn’t really work at all. ‘Sexy anti-fascist’ didn’t make the cut this year.”

8. PEOPLE ASK FOR SOME WEIRD STUFF.

A person appears in a skull costume with glowing eyes for Halloween
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In addition to monitoring social media for memes and trends, designers can get an idea of what consumers are looking for by shadowing their online searches. Costumeish.com monitors what people are typing into their search bar to see if they’re missing out on a potential hit. “People search for odd things sometimes,” Weeks says. “People want to be a cactus, a palm tree, they’re looking for a priest and a boy costume. People can be weird.”

9. THEY HAVE WORKAROUNDS FOR BIG PROPERTIES.

Go out to a party this year and you’re almost guaranteed to run into the Queen of the North. But not every costume maker has the official license for Game of Thrones. What are other companies to do? Come up with a design that sparks recognition without sparking a lawsuit. “Our biggest seller right now is Sexy Northern Queen,” Quintana says. “It’s inspired by a TV show.” But she won’t say which one.

10. PEOPLE LOVE SHARKS.

Singer Katy Perry appears on stage with two dancing sharks
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

From the clunky Ben Cooper plastic costume from 1975’s Jaws to today, people can’t seem to get enough of shark-themed outfits. “We do a lot of sharks,” Berman says. “Maybe it’s because of Shark Week in the summertime, but sharks always tend to trend. People just like the idea of sharks.”

11. DEAD CELEBRITIES MEAN SALES.

A portrait of Hugh Hefner hangs in the Playboy Mansion
Hector Mata/Getty Images

It may be morbid, but it’s a reality: The high-profile passing of celebrities, especially close to Halloween, can trigger a surge in sales. “Before Robin Williams died, I couldn’t sell a Mork costume for a dollar,” Weeks says. “After he died, I couldn’t not sell it for less than $100.” This year, designers expect Hugh Hefner to fuel costume ideas—unless something else pops up suddenly to grab their attention. “Last year, when Prince died, that was almost trumped by [presidential debate audience member] Ken Bone,” Berman says. “He became almost more popular than Prince.”

12. THEY PROFIT FROM PEOPLE SHOPPING AT THE LAST MINUTE.

A man shops for Halloween costumes in a retail store
Frederic J. Brown/Getty Images

Ever wonder why food and other novelty costumes tend to outsell traditional garb like pirates and witches? Because costume shopping for adults is usually done frantically and they don’t have time to compare 25 different Redbeards. “People tend to do it at the very last minute, so we want something that pops out at them,” Berman says. “Like, ‘Oh, I want to be a crab.’”

Weeks agrees that procrastination is profitable. “We make a lot of money on shipping,” he says. “Some people get party invites on the 25th and so they’re paying for next-day air.”

13. IT’S NOT ACTUALLY A SEASONAL BUSINESS.

A woman shops for costumes in a retail store
Rhona Wise/Getty Images

Everyone we spoke to agreed that the most surprising thing about the Halloween business is that it’s not really seasonal on their end. Costumes are designed year-round, and planning can take between 12 and 18 months. “It’s 365 days a year,” Quintana says. “We’ll start thinking about next Halloween in December.” Weeks says he'll begin planning in May 2018—for Halloween 2019.

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