WILMINGTON, Del. -- The Produce for Better Health Foundation here ended its 16-city promotional tour of the East coast with the creation of the "world's largest salad bar."
The overall goal of the ongoing tour, called "5 a Day Across the USA," was to visit supermarkets in selected communities to promote fruits and vegetables. At each stop, customers were invited to sign pledge cards that included a promise to eat at least 5 fruits and vegetables a day.
The foundation collected more than 28,000 cards during the first leg of the national tour.
The travelling roadshow ended its Eastern tour at New York City's famed Central Park, where organizers constructed a giant salad -- measuring 173 yards and nine-and-half inches.
The salad bar featured more than 17,000 pounds of 65 types of fruits and vegetables, including more than 12 types of lettuce. The free event drew more than 6,000 people, all of whom were able to create their own salad mixtures using traditional and exotic fruits and vegetables.
During the festivities, the foundation continued to promote "5 a Day," using the opportunity to pass out promotional items, such as 5 a Day stickers, magnets and sport visors, said Robb Enright, manager of public relations for the foundation.
"It was a great event to help us conclude our overall 5 a Day Across the USA event," he said. "And, it was certainly a great way to reach a lot of people at the same time."
According Enright, the measurements of the salad bar have been submitted to the Guinness Book of World Records and are being reviewed to determine if the creation sets a new mark.
The 5 a Day tour began in Orlando at a unit of Gooding's Supermarkets, Apopka, Fla. From there, it traveled to Tallahassee, where the promotion stopped at a store in the Jacksonville-based Winn-Dixie chain.
The next stop was an Atlanta unit of Cincinnati-based Kroger, where customers received free samples of produce. The caravan then moved on to a Buckhead, Ga., Cub unit of Supervalu, Minneapolis. The retailer used the occasion to hold a Southeast region corporate meeting promoting 5 A Day, which ended with the employee attendees signing 300 pledge cards.
At a Greenville, S.C., unit of Bi-Lo, Mauldin, S.C., the retailer hailed the arrival of the tour by handing out balloons and stuffed animals to children, while a Harris Teeter unit in the retailer's hometown of Charlotte, N.C., had 5 a Day's "Produce Man" entertain customers.
In Raleigh, N.C., on a visit to a unit of Salisbury, N.C., Food Lion, the caravan was presented with a state proclamation declaring May 22, 1999 "5 a Day Across the USA Day" by Charles Edward of the state's department of agriculture, on behalf of Gov. James Hunt.
Other states to greet the tour with proclamations were Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and New York.
At a Richmond, Va.-based Ukrop's Supermarkets unit, customers sampled an array of watermelons, pineapples and strawberries. Moving north, the tour visited two Maryland units of Landover, Md.-based Giant Food and one Maryland unit of Malvern, Pa.-based Acme Markets. In Pennsylvania, the caravan stopped at the Philadelphia Produce Market, where organizers distributed free samples from a large tent inside the market.
While travelling through the Garden State, the tour visited Kings Super Markets, in West Caldwell, N.J., which held a drawing for gift certificates good toward any produce purchase in the store. Also in New Jersey, the foundation stopped at a unit of Edison, N.J.-based ShopRite Supermarkets and a unit of the Wayne, N.J.-based Grand Union Co.
Sponsors of the salad bar event in Central Park included HV Food Products Company and Hidden Valley Ranch, both based in Oakland, Calif.
Hidden Valley used the opportunity to celebrate the 25th anniversary of its original ranch dressing by providing 200 gallons of it to compliment the giant salad.
In addition, the company passed out ballots to all participants asking them to rate their favorite salads. According to a spokesperson for Hidden Valley, the winning salad was ranch tuna salad, followed by ranch tomato salad.
Another sponsor of the event was City Harvest, New York City's largest not-for-profit food rescue organization. The group received more than 5,000 pounds of produce to distribute to the city's needy.
According to Enright, the 5 a Day Foundation is planning to build on the momentum of the East Coast tour by launching a West Coast version sometime in late August. Organizers hope to span the entire country eventually, Enright said, but these additional jaunts will probably not take place before 2000.