Count this as a sentence I never thought I’d write: In October, at Mexico City’s World Trade Center, I was one of 338 participants who helped earn a Guinness World Record for the Largest Facial Cupping Lesson. Organized by the Mexico City–based cosmetic company Miguett and held during its annual conference, the event was exactly what it sounds like: An expert gave a class on how to perform facial cupping, which is known to increase blood flow and collagen production, among other benefits. (It’s like body cupping à la Michael Phelps and Gwyneth Paltrow, but for your forehead, cheeks, and chin.)
Throughout the lesson, a few official Guinness World Records adjudicators canvassed the banquet hall, making sure attendees were actively participating using the small silicone cups provided. (Check your phone or leave to go to the bathroom? Excluded from the count.) Despite four disqualifications, the group still managed to beat the 250-person minimum required—giving Mexico its 20th world record of 2018.
(The 21st was earned a few weeks later, for the most people performing the running man dance simultaneously. And the 22nd was achieved in November, for the world’s longest tamale, measuring 164 feet.)
It’s safe to say that Mexico is a nation obsessed with setting Guinness World Records. To date, it currently holds 217 titles—more than any Latin American destination and number six worldwide. (The United States holds the top spot.) Every two weeks, Mexico attempts—and most often earns—another one. In the past few months alone, records have been set for the largest bead mosaic (878 square feet), the longest line of hot dogs (almost a mile, with 10,000 hot dogs), the largest jam jar (1,234 pounds; blackberry flavor), and the most people playing table football simultaneously (1,080 people).
Most attempts are hosted by organizations or business that have ties to the record being set—say, the largest peanut marzipan candy (18,289 pounds) by the sweets company Dulces de la Rosa. And they take place all across the country, everywhere from Guadalajara to Michoacán, Morelos to Tijuana.
As for why Mexico takes record-setting so seriously, Carlos Tapia—a Mexico City native and a Guinness World Records adjudicator—has one theory. “The record attempts here always feel like a party. We love to celebrate, which is why I think Mexicans are so enthusiastic about it,” he says. In general, however, “Guinness gives you the opportunity to inspire others and show the best of the country to everyone around the world: the culture, the food, the people,” says Tapia, who names the largest parade of classic cars (a 2014 record beat by Puerto Rico in 2017) and the largest carpet of flowers (a 2016 record beat by Saudi Arabia in 2017) among the most impressive feats he has judged in Mexico.
The country is especially proud of its strong culinary traditions, so it’s not surprising that many of these achievements revolve around food: largest cup of hot chocolate, largest serving of octopus, largest Caesar salad, largest serving of guacamole, largest burrito, largest enchilada, largest serving of tacos. The list goes on and on.
Some records, meanwhile, have seemingly nothing to do with the destination’s cultural heritage—and may even leave you scratching your head. Take the most people completing a questionnaire (3,461, about insomnia) and the largest single-breed dog walk, earned with 783 Yorkshire terriers and organized by Yorkimania, the self-proclaimed biggest Yorkies club in Mexico and Latin America. And, one could add, the largest facial cupping lesson. But sitting in that banquet hall, watching everyone cheer when Tapia announced that the record had been set, it didn’t matter that there was no obvious connection to Mexico’s rich traditions. All that mattered to the participants, and Miguett, is that they set out to achieve something that had never been done before, and they succeeded.