Christmas is the season for getting stuffed. Opening presents, singing about Jesus and spatting with relatives is all well and good, but when it gets down to brass tax, the main objective is always to eat as much food as physically possible. Whether you go wild for goose, or treasure valuable time with your turkey, Christmas isn’t Christmas unless you slump into a sprout induced stupor, feeling happy and slightly sick, by about 4pm. It’s one of the only days where gluttony gets properly let off the leash.
Obviously, with a meal of this magnitude, size matters. Even if you’re in a family of three, the idea of serving anything less than enough to cater for a small army is anathema to the whole concept of Christmas. However, while we all might like to pretend that our family traditions come up trumps for indulgent dinners, the reality is that they all pale into insignificance when stacked up against the biggest of all time.
Created by the husband and wife team of Ashley and Louise Gargan at the Duck Inn in Worcestershire in 2013, the world’s largest Christmas dinner is a testament to everything that the season should be about. Weighing in at a whopping 9.6 kg - or 21.16 lbs - the festive feast was designed as the ultimate individual test - a challenge to prove just how much you love baby Jesus’ birthday party. One look at the ingredients is enough to make most people shiver in their Christmas hats.
The challenge itself was equal parts seasonal and scary. The meal, which was designed to be eaten by one person, consisted of a whole turkey, covered in strips of streaky bacon, roasted carrots and parsnips, steamed broccoli, cauliflower, roasted potatoes, pigs in blankets, a vat of gravy and, the piece de resistance, 25 sprouts. Judging by the press release photos, it looks more like something that should be served as a centrepiece at a Tudor wedding than something that should be tackled by one person. Even Henry VIII would have second thoughts.
In order to complete this enormous undertaking, the challenger had to finish the entire platter - sprouts and all - in 45 minutes or less. A successful attempt rewarded the diner with a T-shirt, a place on the Duck Inn’s wall of fame and, perhaps most importantly, the entire meal free of charge. If ever there was a reason to eat like your life depended on it, avoiding a hefty bill is surely it.
Despite being one of the greediest ways to spend your lunch, the Duck Inn’s challenge wasn’t all about indulgence. As part of the promotion, Ashley and Louise Gargan pledged to donate the same amount of food again to their local food bank for every portion ordered. You might feel physically terrible after you’d finished it, but still end up with a warm glow inside, thanks to your ridiculous appetite.
The Gargan’s Christmas dinner still stands, five years after its original run, as the largest of all time. So spectacular was the achievement that it was recognised with a Guinness World Record almost immediately after its release. However, a new pretender has finally emerged to lay claim to the throne. The George Pub and Grill, of Stockton-on-Tees, Durham, have this year announced their own monstrous feast, featuring an 8,000 calorie turkey crown and more than 20lbs of roasted veg. If rumours are true, this meal may be even more enormous than the Gargan’s 2013 effort. Time will tell if it’s all it’s cracked up to be. For now, the title of biggest Christmas dinner remains in Worcestershire. How long it stays remains to be seen.