Chris Uhler / The Lantern
The Columbus Italian Club’s attempt to make the world’s largest meatball didn’t stack up but it shattered the national record of 327 pounds, set by a Michigan community.
Expecting to break the record of 750 pounds this past weekend, the Columbus Italian Club’s attempt at the world’s largest meatball fell short by about 94 pounds.
“Me, personally, because I was kind of in charge, I was devastated,” said Chris Beardman, World’s Largest Meatball chairman. “I mean, we put thousands of man-hours in this thing. It became a full-time job, it really did. So I was pretty disappointed.”
The club had practiced on five smaller meatballs, one 20-pound meatball and four 50-pounders. Paul DiSabato, one of the members of the group, was confident in the club’s ability to break the record.
“We had everything going for us, and through all of our calculations everything looked great,” DiSabato said. “Unfortunately, we were using forced air, and all of our test runs were done with electric heat. The forced air caused the moisture to be released, and we simply lost moisture. Moisture is weight.”
The oven, which was the size of a small dumpster, was built to cook the massive ball of sirloin.
But, because its heating method was different from the ones the club had practiced on before, the meatball cooked faster than anticipated and lost weight in the process.
“When we were cooking it, we had it all wrapped in parchment paper so we never really could see the amount of meat that was in it,” DiSabato said. “When we took the parchment paper off, it looked like it was about half the volume of what it was when we put it in.”
Expected to shrink about 22 percent to 800 pounds, the meatball actually shrank about 40 percent to 655.5 pounds, which still shattered the North American record.
The world record is about 749 pounds, which a company in Germany holds.
“Absolutely I’ll break this record, I will beat it,” Beardman said.
The meatball, which stands about 4.5 feet tall and 3 feet wide, will be recycled at Price Farms Organics, a composting facility.
Beardman said that although he didn’t know the exact figures, he estimated the final cost for the record attempt at about $30,000.
Because of many sponsors, the club covered its costs and had about $5,000 left for its scholarship fund.
“The ultimate goal is that all the proceeds are going to our Education Assistance Scholarship Program,” said Rick Willimott, marketing leader of World’s Largest Meatball. “To date, we’ve awarded over $200,000 to over 150 high school students of Italian heritage. Once we paid off everything in terms of buying the meat, all the rest goes to those high school students.”
Beardman and the rest of the club plan to attempt to break the record again the weekend of the Ohio State-Michigan game, which is Nov. 27.
“Most of the expenses are done, we just need meat now,” Beardman said. “We’ll get sponsors and see where it goes. I want the record. We’ll get the record. And if we can benefit the scholarship fund again, that’s dynamite.”