From the May 13, 1974, issue of TIME
TIME
By Olivia B. Waxman
September 10, 2014

Guinness World Records releases its 2015 edition this week, featuring a Pomeranian that’s the fastest dog on two paws and Metallica, the first musical act to perform a concert on every continent.

The book is also the 60th anniversary edition, but things have changed since the first-ever Guinness records book arrived in 1955. Though early editions were full of miscellany and trivia, its records tended to be fairly basic: fastest, tallest, smallest, deepest. But, as TIME reported in a May 13, 1974, feature on an “oddball Olympics,” a group of 200 California students who gathered to beat previous world records and set new ones, the records have gotten weirder. This passage shows the great lengths people will go to achieve such an honor, something current record holders will be able to relate to:

And the weirdness has continued. Other fun records TIME highlighted over the years include:

The longest song title, mentioned in the People section in 1969: “I’m a Cranky Old Yank in a Clanky Old Tank on the Streets of Yokohama with my Honolulu Mama Doin’ Those Beat-o, Beat-o, Flat-on-My-Seat-o, Hirohito Blues” by composer Hogey Carmichael.

The world’s largest diary, reviewed in 1995: 20 million words spanning 67 years and roughly 35,000 pages, penned by New York World reporter Edward Robb Ellis. The quality of the writing lives up to the quantity, based on his description of the late Senator Joseph McCarthy, the face of the Red Scare: “McCarthy has the slim hips of an athlete, a thick trunk and shoulders like a buffalo. Almost lacking a neck, his huge head seems perched on his shoulders. His mouth is long and thin, like a knife-gash in a melon.”

Fastest beer drinker, featured in a 1983 profile. Before Robert Hawke was known as Australia’s longest-serving Labor prime minister, he guzzled 2.5 pints of beer in 12 seconds at Oxford, earning a spot in the record book.

Read about the 1974 record-breakers here, in TIME’s archives: Oddball Olympics

Write to Olivia B. Waxman at olivia.waxman@time.com.

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