LOWVILLE Frances L. Walker, Beaver Falls, took the first bite of the Worlds Largest Cheesecake.
They did a superb job, said the 83-year-old. Im used to the graham cracker crust on the bottom, but under the circumstances, Im glad to have it on top. To say I accomplished this says something. To come and participate is always something to aim for.
Ms. Walker waited more than two hours outside the Lowville Fire Hall on State Street with roughly 600 other people to taste the 6,900-pound, record-setting cheesecake at the ninth annual Cream Cheese Festival on Saturday.
Thats right, 6,900 pounds 2,197 pounds over the 2009 Kraft Foods Mexico record of 4,703.
According to Michael E. Empric, official adjudicator for Guinness World Records, the pie had to adhere to three specs: It had to be made of a soft cheese of some type, it needed to be made with sugar and it had to have a base. Mr. Empric was on hand to observe the pie-making process.
It could be cold set, baked its up to the organization, so long as they have the key pieces, Mr. Empric said. To his knowledge, it was the first world record to be set in Lowville.
A team of approximately 30 people from the Lowville Kraft Foods Philadelphia Cream Cheese facility began working Thursday afternoon on the masterpiece. Thats when the crust was put together, consisting of 360 pounds of butter and 550 pounds of ground graham crackers. The crust itself was not visible beneath the roughly 5,990 pounds of filling. The filling was added Friday, with the pie transported Saturday morning using both a large and medium-sized forklift. With a police escort, the monstrous concoction was transported from the Kraft factory on Utica Boulevard and down State Street to the fire hall.
The cake was served around 12:40 p.m., at least 25 minutes past the estimated serving time. With a light rain, spectators were calling out, Come on, go, already! or You can start now! To which Kraft SSE Manager William Blunden would make joking responses, such as, Who said? I dont believe you ... I answer to my boss.
To rev up the crowds energy, he continually asked, Are you ready? which always was met with an enthusiastic response.
The filling was scooped out and served with a light graham cracker dusting on top.
I think its just tremendous, you know? said Tom J. Kotasek, business unit manager at the local Kraft facility. I mean, we set out to reach the goal of setting this record. We made it; we feel really proud. It was a total plant effort.
Mr. Kotasek estimated 14,000 people would attend the festival, with 3,000 to 4,000 taking a hunk of the cake.
When asked how much the cheesecake was worth, factoring in the cost of ingredients alone, he could not give an estimate. But he did admit there were several obstacles the crew had to overcome.
Once we decided to go for the record, it was really how big of a pan did we need to make, and who could do that for us ... it took a lot of planning to really do this and to do it right, Mr. Kotasek said.
Celebrity chef Duff Goldman, star of the former Food Network show Ace of Cakes, also was on hand to take part in the festivities.
Its good ... could use cherry pie filling. You know, its New York New York-style cheesecake has cherry pie filling, said Mr. Goldman, who owns Charm City Cakes in Baltimore, Md.
Otherwise, he praised the crew and the festival itself, joking he would have to wear a Richard Nixon mask just to wander the streets and truly take it in.
We really love this, he said of himself and other celebrity chefs who attend such events. We love the Lowville Cream Cheese Festival ... an entire town getting together and celebrating an ingredient its amazing.
Previously, the Cream Cheese Festival cheesecake held the national record for largest cheesecake at 1,200 pounds. Leftover cake will be distributed to food pantries in Lewis and Jefferson counties.
Mr. Empric admitted the size would be difficult to beat, but working at GWR, he has learned to never say never.
Donations for the Share Our Strength No Kid Hungry campaign were collected at the festival.
Video of the cheesecake unveiling can be found at http://wdt.me/sZmzup