There’s nary a week that passes when, in some corner of Texas, someone isn’t getting up to something that we can only describe as “antics.” These stories capture our attention and imagination, and we explore them in Meanwhile, in Texas.

What’s going on? 

Mum-maker Nancy Madsen of Oh My Goodness Boutique in Corpus Christi created a gigantic, possibly record-breaking 78-foot-long homecoming mum. As KRIS-TV reported, she has since submitted the bouquet’s measurements to the Guinness World Records in hopes of securing the record.

That’s really big!

Yes. Yes, it is.  

Like, huge. 

Laid flat, the bouquet would occupy a little over a fourth of a football field. It also weighs roughly three hundred pounds.

The 78-foot-long homecoming mum created by Nancy Madsen of Oh My Goodness Boutique in Corpus Christi.Courtesy of Nancy Madsen

But … why make something so enormous? 

Madsen says she undertook this endeavor to impress her eight-year-old daughter and to outdo a large mum she heard about several years ago. Her creation is also a billowing, beribboned advertisement for the craft supply store she owns, Oh My Goodness Boutique, which sells mum-making supplies to DIYers. And it’s no coincidence that Madsen’s mum is 56 feet longer than the current Guinness record holder, which a group of teachers in Arlington ISD crafted in August to raise awareness for breast cancer research. 

“I made sure mine was five times bigger,” Madsen says, with unsurprising hyperbole. We did the math: Madsen’s mum is actually about three and a half times longer than the Arlington corsage. It is the only one we’ve yet heard of, however, whose sheer size necessitated hoisting it into the air with a construction crane.  

Is this a new trend?

Texans (and their moms) have been making the corsages to wear to homecoming festivities since the thirties. But in recent decades—perhaps fueled by the rise of social media—the bouquets seem to have skyrocketed in size, gaudiness, and complexity, with their construction becoming something of a competitive sport. See also: the eighteen-by-six-foot “Whatamum,” a Whataburger-themed mum, created in Arlington for a 2019 art exhibit.

Okay, but how?!

With a lot of time and effort. It took Madsen 138 hours to create the mum, which is, naturally, Texas-themed, with red, white, and blue streamers and a large, Texas-shape base. She used a jigsaw to cut the mum’s base out of three pieces of hardboard before layering dozens and dozens of silk chrysanthemums on top. Madsen and her cousin dedicated many Saturdays over several months to making the mum, first working in Madsen’s store before moving the pieces into her three-car garage. 

What’s a mum? 

Oh. Perhaps we should have started here first. 

A mum is a traditional corsage, usually but not always made with artificial flowers instead of fresh ones, and given to one’s homecoming date ahead of the big game. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, you’re not alone. When Madsen inquired about a mum record three years ago, the Brits at Guinness World Records (whose headquarters is in London) had no idea what she was talking about. It seems, though, that the record keepers have gotten hip to the tradition. When Madsen applied this year, she had to comply with a variety of specific stipulations, such as making sure to include a proper percentage of trinkets.

Will anyone be wearing this mum? 

Not if they want to survive the experience. The mum weighs roughly three hundred pounds and, again, requires a construction lift to be moved. Even Big Tex, whose 55-foot height is nothing to scoff at, would be dwarfed by this monster mum. Also, the mum would cost several thousand dollars were it to be sold, and, once again, it weighs three hundred pounds.

Where can I see this behemoth? 

At the moment, Madsen is seeking a home for her mum. She hopes to display it to the public during a future ceremony bestowing the still-pending world record. One large problem? The mum, because of its immense weight and size, doesn’t fare well outdoors, where the slightest wind sends the piles of ribbon streaming, eventually creating a big tangle.  

Will anyone—can anyone?!—beat Madsen’s record? 

“I’m not too worried,” Madsen says confidently (she admits to being a competitive person). 

But what if someone does? 

“At this moment, I wouldn’t do it again,” she says. “It’s a lot of work. Whoever tries to beat the record, more power to them.

“However,” she adds, “if I feel that it’s better than mine or that it looks better, or, you know, just seems better or just was better made, I think that we would probably redo it.”

There you have it. The gauntlet has been thrown.