Giant Fast-Food Costume Fetches More Than $16,000 in Canada Auction


Row over recipe for Canada’s answer to the kebab fuels bidding war between those with different visions of the late-night snack

In the end, it was a row over the recipe that spurred an all-out bidding war for a lifesize costume of a donair, a particularly Canadian riff on the gyros or döner kebab.

The donair mascot costume – a pita stuffed with thinly sliced spiced beef, tomatoes, onions, and lettuce and tightly wrapped in shiny aluminum foil – fetched C$16,025 (£9,343) at a government auction.

It was the lettuce, specifically, that motivated Adil Asim – owner of Edmonton’s PrimeTime Donair and Poutine – to push past the other 1,710 bids registered on the online auction.

“We entered the race so we could get the donair costume, but we stayed in the race because of what the people who were bidding against us were saying,” Asim told the Guardian.

“A couple of donair shops in the Maritimes had been interviewed by the media and they were saying that, had they gotten their hands on the suit, they would be removing the lettuce.”

First created in Halifax, Nova Scotia, donairs are similar to gyros or döner kebabs, except that they also come drenched in a sweet sauce made from condensed milk.

What the Maritime donairs don’t have, however, is lettuce.

Halifax’s King of Donair went so far as to print T-shirts with “Anti-lettuce donair club” emblazoned on the back.

The threat of losing the costume to lettuce-haters was too much for Asim to bear.

“I’m born and raised in Alberta. I’ve been eating donairs here for literally 40 years, and I have been selling donairs here for the last 18 years. And so I know for sure that roughly 90% of the donairs we sell here in Alberta contain lettuce,” he said.

Asim’s resolve to win was only strengthened when he went to see the costume.

It was originally commissioned by the province of Alberta for a traffic safety video campaign about the dangers of driving high. But the proposed ad, seen as too glib by government officials, was quashed and the costume was cast into storage, where it gathered dust.

The 56-inch (142cm) tall costume was created by puppet designers Christine Papalexis and Bill Bryan, the latter of whom co-designed the Marshmallow Man costume from the 1984 classic Ghostbusters.

The quality of craftsmanship was evident to Asim.

Buoyed by further research, which revealed that commissioning a brand-new mascot suit would probably reach beyond US$20,000, Asim decided he was in it for the long haul. “We were prepared to go a lot higher if we needed to,” said Asim.

By the close of the auction on Monday night, PrimeTime Donair had won with a bid just $5 over the previous bidder’s pledge.

That bid was placed by Steve Wallis, a Canadian “stealth camping” aficionado who decided to throw his hat into the ring as a tribute to his late wife, Jessica.

The late-night snack reminded him of a trip home to Nova Scotia he and Jessica took just before getting married.

The couple toured all of the restaurants claiming to be the birthplace of the donair. They also feasted on less conventional offerings, including donair pizza and donair egg rolls. “Our trip was very donair-oriented,” he said.

He thought he could turn the media attention for the donair costume auction into a fundraising drive for food banks in Edmonton.

But just before the auction closed, he called Asim and told him he’d let him win – if they could work together to raise some money for the charitable effort.

Asim agreed, vowing to hold a donair-eating contest or perhaps do a stealth camping event.

But first things first: on Wednesday, Asim will travel to the pickup site to fetch the costume.

He still isn’t sure who will wear it, though.

“I’m a bigger guy so I don’t think I’m going to be able to squeeze into it,” he said. “I guess we’re taking applications.”

Source : The Guardian