P.E.I. Superstores part of attempt to break Guinness World Record

Mitch MacDonald comment@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on March 22, 2014

Superstore employees across the country are crossing their fingers hoping they cracked a Guinness World Record over the weekend.

More than 360 stores across the country, including the locations in Prince Edward Island, took part in an effort at 1 p.m. ADT Saturday to set a new record for the most wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses being cracked at the same time.

Employees were hoping to smash the record, which is currently at 426 wheels, by cracking more than 1,000 wheels of cheese across the country.

Employees of the 465 University Avenue location in Charlottetown did more than their fair share.

Eight employees each cracked an 84 pound wheel in front of a group of nearly 50 spectators.

It was employee Heather Cardy's first time cracking a wheel.

"It was really tiring, it required a lot more muscle than I thought it would," said Cardy.

Parmigiano-Reggiano is a hard Italian cheese produced in the region of Parma, Italy.

Using the same recipe for almost 1,000 years, it is commonly referred to in English as parmesan.

Cracking a wheel open is a time-honoured ritual and process that requires special training and tools, including four different kinds of knives, in order to split the wheel in half while still retaining its crystalline and crumbly texture.

The cheese wheel is first scored down the middle of the top and down the sides. Then another knife is inserted into the exact center of the top of the wheel. Two wedge knives are then inserted into both sides of the wheel, which makes it begin to crack. The three knives are removed and the wheel is flipped and the bottom scored. 

The knives are inserted once again on both sides and centre and the cheese wheel should split in half.

Store manager Terry Kyle noted that Loblaws had previously held the record in 2012 before it was broken by Whole Foods Market in 2013.

While it will take the weekend for the numbers to be tallied and record to be made official, if all goes to plan Kyle said this year will see the group "smash" the previous record.

"We want to be known as the place where people can get the best parmesan and other kinds of cheese as well," said Kyle.

He also gave credit to the eight employees who cracked the cheese.

"I'm very fortunate as store manager to have some wonderful staff," he said.

To ensure accuracy and fairness in the world record attempt each store was required to submit photographs and witness statements to Loblaws head office in Toronto where a Guinness judge will review all submissions and a decision will be rendered.

Cardy said breaking the world record would be "awesome."

"Now I can say I cracked a wheel of parmesan. Not a lot of people can say that. And to break a world record, that's something that's really cool to participate in."