Featured Testimonial About Creighton University
It’s crazy, but I wanted to see something to get everyone together, something that everyone will remember.
By Micah Mertes
Well, here’s a long, weird slice of Creighton history …
Lettuce tell you about the day of Oct. 23, 1988, when the University’s attempt to break the Guinness record for world’s longest sandwich was foiled by Nebraska weather.
A local Subway donated the $12,000 sandwich, with the plan to use more than 1,600 feet of bread (which the shop had been baking since August), 1,500 pounds of ham and turkey, 600 pounds of tomatoes, 600 pounds of onions, 500 pounds of lettuce and 300 pounds of cheese.
(The amount of magis used that day was not officially measured. Estimates vary.)
The Subway location’s owner, Rob Kirk, said at the time: “It’s crazy, but I wanted to see something to get everyone together, something that everyone will remember.”
But as they say, “Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are: ‘We had to make the giant sandwich smaller so it could fit into the gymnasium.’”
The meating was originally set at — and intended to celebrate — the newly built Creighton University Sports Complex.
Robyn Eden, Creighton's former director of marketing, managed the event. She recalls the day well.
"We had picked a nice day," she says now. "The breeze was light. The sun was shining. We had the tables and ingredients set up all over the turf. But then the breeze turned into a gale force. Things kind of went south after that."
Later, Eden and her colleagues would refer to the incident as "The Miracle of the Flying Loaves."
Winds more than 45mph chased the event indoors, trimming the sandwich’s length and thwarting Creighton's record attempt. Eden and her fellow organizers found a substitute venue fast. Staff and students moved the tables (and the bread that hadn't flown to another state) into the Kiewit Fitness Center gym floor.
Despite the last-minute change of plans, it remained “an exciting and great day for Creighton University,” said then-President the Rev. Michael Morrison, SJ.
Creighton students still managed to build an 1,100-foot-long sandwich — breaking the Nebraska record. The sub stretched twice around tables that encircled the gym. Creighton’s sandwich fell short of what was then the world’s longest sandwich — a 1,583-foot-long colossus made in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. (The record now stands at 2,400 feet.)
Attending the ’88 sports complex dedication/really-big-sandwich party were Omaha’s mayor, along with Creighton administration, trustees and hundreds of students.
The Bellevue East High School Marching Band set the mood as everyone was invited to eat a piece of the massive sandwich. Many students used pillowcases as to-go bags. Unused produce, cheese and meat were donated to area homeless shelters.
"I'd have to say, the day was a success despite itself," Eden says. "We all had a great time. But it's a good recommendation for always having a plan B."
The sandwich event was a true community effort, with ConAgra Deli Co, Ancona Brothers, the Coca Cola Co., College World Series, Inc., the Marriott Corp, Rich’s Bread and U.S. Cold Storage also donating food and services.
The sandwich wasn’t that day’s only claim to bigness. The 179,000-square-foot surface of the Creighton Sports Complex was, at the time, one of the largest artificial-turf installations in the nation.
Construction of the complex was made possible by a $1.5 million gift from the Ahmanson Foundation to the Campaign for Creighton, the University’s five-year fundraising effort at the time.
On a related note, Creighton recently launched the most ambitious campaign in its 143-year history.
It’s called Forward Blue, and it’s a terrific way to support what you loaf.