Guinness World Records started out as a Guinness Brewery promotion intended to help settle bar bets.
Source: Original photo by Cornerstone Photos/ Alamy Stock Photo
Next Fact

Guinness World Records started out as a Guinness Brewery promotion intended to help settle bar bets.

In 1954, Sir Hugh Beaver, the managing director of Guinness, thought up a way to reduce pub disputes so bartenders could focus on pouring his company’s signature beers. He suspected that every bar could benefit from a book filled with verified facts and stats about subjects that might arise mid-conversation over a drink. Two events in particular prompted his decision: Earlier in the decade, he and fellow guests at a hunt in Ireland memorably argued about Europe’s fastest game bird, which they had no means of identifying. Then, on May 6, 1954, English athlete Roger Bannister became the first person to run a mile in less than four minutes, causing public interest in records-related news to surge. Norris McWhirter had served as the stadium announcer during Bannister’s historic run, and Beaver hired both him and his identical twin, Ross McWhirter — another sports journalist — to assemble The Guinness Book of World Records. At the time, the pair had already begun working at a London-based agency that supplied facts to newspapers and advertisers.

The U.S. is the second-largest market for Guinness beer.
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Incorrect.
It's a Fib
That claim belongs to Nigeria. The dark brew has been sold there since 1827, although in glass bottles rather than cans. The country that drinks the most Guinness is the U.K., while Ireland comes in third, and the U.S. is fourth.

The McWhirter twins spent about three months working feverishly on their 198-page compendium. Released in the U.K. on August 27, 1955, the book featured about 4,000 records, ranging from the world’s tallest man to the smallest pub. Eight pages of black-and-white photographs broke up the text, along with a few ink drawings. Although initially meant to be given out for free at bars to promote Guinness, the book became so popular, the company started selling it, soon to great success. To date, more than 150 million books from the series — eventually renamed Guinness World Records — have been purchased, educating readers in 40-plus languages. But the brand is no longer beverage-based: Diageo, the alcohol conglomerate that now owns Guinness, sold Guinness World Records in 2001, and it’s now owned by a Canadian conglomerate called the Jim Pattison Group.

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Numbers Don’t Lie
Minimum Guinness World Records that NYC’s Ashrita Furman — the most prolific record-breaker — has set
600
Length, in years, of the lease Guinness' founder signed to rent the company's headquarters in 1759
9,000
Number of active records currently stored in the Guinness World Records database
62,252
Estimated pints of Guinness lost every year to drinkers' mustaches, according to a 2000 study
162,719
From 1976 to 1995, New York City's iconic _______ Building was home to a Guinness World Records museum.
From 1976 to 1995, New York City's iconic Empire State Building was home to a Guinness World Records museum.
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Think Twice
Guinness prompted the Irish government to adjust the trademark of its coat of arms.

All Guinness bottles and cans share the same harp-shaped logo, a nod to a national treasure — a famed 14th-century harp — preserved inside the library of Trinity College Dublin. The harp has been incorporated into Guinness labels since 1862, and the beverage titan trademarked the design 14 years later, although the design has been updated over the years. A harp (a reference to the same instrument at Trinity College) has also been Ireland’s emblem since the Irish Free State was established in 1922, starring in its seal of state, coat of arms, and coins. In the early 1980s, Ireland’s office of the attorney general suggested attempting to trademark the harp under international intellectual property jurisdictions with the instrument facing in both directions, but the government had concerns that the move would elicit a lawsuit from Guinness, which is associated with a harp that has a left-sided straight edge. So since 1984, the official, nine-string Irish harp is always pictured with its straight edge to the right.  

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