KAILUA-KONA — It’s official.
Pamela Wang, of Kealakekua, sparked worldwide attention earlier this month after she stumbled upon a gargantuan avocado during one of her walks in South Kona. Suspecting she’d found something special, Wang had the tropical fruit weighed and documented.
Following a rigorous verification process, Guinness World Records America Inc. confirmed to Wang in an email this week that she had indeed found the heaviest avocado on record, weighing 5 pounds, 3.6 ounces, or 2.37 kilograms.
But as with most stories, it’s not her arrival at the destination of a world record Wang values most. Instead, it’s the twists and turns of a whirlwind journey that swept her up as word of her discovery first hopped islands, then crossed oceans, then spread over continents.
“It was the excitement of the ride,” Wang said Wednesday. “It was really fun pulling (the story) up and seeing it in other languages and different little news (publications) that took (the original) article and pieced it together and wrote other things.”
West Hawaii Today ran the initial story on Saturday, Dec. 2. It was the first rumble of a media avalanche soon to follow. Two days later, Wang said she was “inundated” with calls and media requests.
The Associated Press picked the story up, carrying it to Oahu and then the mainland. The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Today Show — Wang and her avocado were popping up everywhere, in newspapers, on television and online, alike.
Some outlets simply ran the AP version of the story. Some incorporated it into other, more comprehensive stories. And several organizations reached out to Wang herself.
KHON contacted Wang first. Other Honolulu news sources followed. The Daily Mail, based in Great Britain, rang from its New York office, followed by a paper out of Toronto. Online publications jumped in and Wang heard from the likes of Delish.com and others.
“The first three days, I was on the phone or emailing or putting up pictures all over the place,” Wang explained. “I’d come home and there’d be six more messages on my phone. I wasn’t used to having a job of promoting an avocado.”
The South China Post ran a version of the story. HuffPost in London did, as well. An exchange student who formerly lived with Wang sent the story to her from a publication in Japan. Her children, living overseas, sent her the story from Singapore and Taiwan.
“Every single little daily newspaper like West Hawaii Today anywhere, Denver and Montana,” Wang said. “I have so many people who called me up, contacted me, friends of mine and people who found me on Facebook. The fun thing was reconnecting with all sorts of friends I haven’t talked to in awhile who opened the paper and saw my face right there looking back at them.”
Even an old friend and babysitter to her children reached out from Mazatlan, Mexico. Wang hadn’t seen or heard from the woman since the early 1990s, when Wang made their home there.
But the story didn’t just reconstruct bridges into Wang’s past. It also brought intrigue and inquiry from all over the world by way of social media.
Facebook messages and friend requests abounded, originating mostly in countries situated in tropical regions — Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore.
Some more knowledgeable inquirers asked if Wang would graft the tree that bore the colossal fruit. Others, who knew less, requested seeds from the largest avocado ever recorded — unaware, Wang said, that the avocado seed doesn’t necessarily grow true to the type and size of its predecessor.
Others who contacted Wang, for instance a group called the Malaysian Avocado Lovers, simply asked if she’d like to be a part of their club. But what people wanted to know most was how the fruit tasted.
They did eat the record-holder, after all.
“Do you know how hard it is to try and describe how an avocado tastes?” Wang laughed.
Here on Hawaii Island, Wang has become something of a farmers market celebrity. As she strolls from stand to stand, people recognize her and shout, “You’re the avocado lady!”
“I walk through and people point at me, holding up their hands as if they are holding an avocado,” Wang said. “I thought that was really cool, where the community comes together and is excited over something as small as the heaviest avocado.”
The Big Island is currently home, or has in the past been home, to the world’s heaviest soursop, mango and jackfruit. Now, Wang’s avocado has been added to the list, and she had some advice for Hawaii Islanders — keep a vigilant lookout, as records are meant to be broken.
“Tell your readers to keep their eye out for that bigger one that’s out there,” she said. “I’m sure someday, somebody will find it.”