The Alberta government is selling a donair costume and it’s already fetching top dollar

Click to play video: 'Alberta government is auctioning off a donair costume and people are eating it up'
Alberta government is auctioning off a donair costume and people are eating it up
Interest in a donair costume being auctioned by the Alberta government continues to grow. The bizarre item was purchased by the province for an advertising campaign, and now bidders are hungry to get their hands on it. Slav Kornik has the story. – Jul 19, 2023

The official food of Halifax has shapeshifted into life-size form in a rather unusual location that has also embraced a love for the very Canadian cuisine.

A four-foot-seven donair costume, complemented by a silver-coloured body suit to ensure the outfit offers up an “authentic tinfoil look,” was uploaded onto the Alberta government’s auction site on Friday.

The Service Alberta website sells off government property and the costume is the sole item listed under “oddities.”

On Wednesday the bids skyrocketed and in the evening, the highest bid surpassed $5,000. The starting bid was originally set at $50.

All of the hallmarks of the authentic street food are on full display as the costume showcases tomatoes, onion, and donair meat all wrapped inside the enlarged pita bread and topped with donair sauce.

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Someone wearing the donair costume waves hello to the mirror. Service Alberta

The costume also includes a highly controversial ingredient: lettuce.

“Lettuce in donairs in Halifax is a bit sacrilegious,” said Josh Robinson, the co-founder of Blowers and Grafton — an Alberta restaurant that serves up Halifax street food and other East Coast favourites.

Edmonton is home to dozens of donair shops and many put their own twist of the Halifax classic — different meats, sauces, and some may use different types of vegetables, adding lettuce in addition to the traditional toppings.

“Out here in Alberta, it’s a bit more common — but back home, you’re not really going to find the lettuce in there. It’s really all about the meat, the sauce, tomatoes and onions and that Lebanese pita that’s steamed up on there.”

Click to play video: 'Danielle Smith and donair costume stroll around Taste of Edmonton'
Danielle Smith and donair costume stroll around Taste of Edmonton

Robinson grew up in Nova Scotia, ran a donair shop there and like many East Coasters, ventured west about a decade ago.

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The Alberta restaurant chain launched about five years ago, and the spicy meat is featured on many of their menu items: nachos, quesadillas, pizzas, poutine and the classic wrap itself.

Now, Blowers and Grafton is hoping to add the donair costume to its lineup. Robinson said Wednesday he plans to bid on the auction.

“We’ve been talking about getting a donair costume for a lot of years now, and this thing is just perfect. Other than one little flaw,” he said.

According to the listing, the costume is comprised of different latexes, volcanized rubbers, and synthetics. The interior of the donair comes with adjustable shoulder straps and a 75” head-to-toe body suit.

“If we if we get this thing, we’re definitely gonna have to take care of that lettuce,” Robinson said.

“We’ve got some ideas of how to do that. But yeah, we probably won’t have the lettuce staying in there.”

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Halifax-based restaurant chain King of Donair (KOD) is credited with perfecting the recipe when the restaurant first opened in 1973.

Founder Peter Gamoulakos adapted the gyro sandwich from his native Greece, replacing lamb with spiced ground beef and tzatziki with a sweet sauce.

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Click to play video: 'Big Food Bucket List: King of Donair'
Big Food Bucket List: King of Donair

KOD is notoriously known for dismissing any wrap involving lettuce as an inauthentic donair. The company has even released an “Anti Lettuce Donair Club” T-Shirt on its website.

Nicholas Nahas, a co-owner of the seven-location franchise that includes shops both on the East Coast and in Alberta, said he’s been “keeping an eye” on the auction.

He said he’s had some people reach out and offer to make some slight adjustments to the piece.

“(I) even had an email today from someone saying they could remove the lettuce if we wanted,” he said.

Donair meat, sauce, and lettuce are some of the toppings included in the costume. Service Alberta

Nahas noted that none of KOD’s Halifax locations currently offer the leafy vegetable, although their Western Canada locations do feature “the Alberta” donair, which does, in fact, contain lettuce.

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He said King of Donair is considering throwing their hat in the ring and placing a bid on the one-of-a-kind getup.

Regarding where the attention-grabbing ensemble ends up as a result of the auction, Nahas’ mind is already made up.

“That type of suit, no lettuce, belongs in Halifax,” he said.

The people of Edmonton might disagree.

“It’s Edmonton’s weird food staple, aside from the green onion cake,” said Graham Mosimann, the daytime host at Chuck 92.5, a FM radio station owned by Corus, the parent company of Global News.

“Edmonton may not like to admit, but we’re a city of weirdos! The fact that the government is selling a donair costume that people are literally paying thousands of dollars for is about as weird in Edmonton as you can get.”

He spotted the listing early on and said seeing he had some extra cash, he decided to join the fun.

“I was really hoping that no one would see it. It was a very low bid — $250 was my first bid.”

He hoped to fly under the radar and become the proud new owner of the silly costume.

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“Alas, it wasn’t to be as the bid’s started jumping faster and faster.

“I put another bid at about $400 and then I really pushed the budget at $600, which is a lot of money. And it was fun to try to explain to my partner.”

Mosimann said he eventually tapped out.

“I just hope whoever gets it truly, truly enjoys the joy that they’re going to get to spread to people by just dressing up and going to a thing as a giant donair,” he said.

A head-to-toe body suit is laid out in front of the donair costume. Service Alberta

The auction site suggests the packing indicates the costume was created by Alterian Inc., a design studio based in Los Angeles, Calif., but states it is unable to confirm.

“This costume was a prop for an advertising campaign and is no longer required by the department,” the uploader said in response to a user’s question.

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“Surplus Sales is offering it for auction, as we do for any of our less interesting assets, that are no longer required.”

The costumes’ listing said it was a prop for an advertising campaign and is no longer required by the department.

Mosimann finds that use of tax dollars highly amusing.

“I just deeply love the fact that someone had to go to a government ministry and say, ‘Hey, I have this idea — but we need several thousand dollars to build a giant donair. Can we do it?’ And then that ministry signed off on it!

“The bidding is getting so high now that I’m sure they’re going to recoup whatever they spent on it.”

Click to play video: 'Edmonton donair shop’s act of kindness goes viral'
Edmonton donair shop’s act of kindness goes viral

Global News is awaiting an official response from the province on how it ended up in the government’s possession.

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Questions surrounding how the attire came to be continue to circulate on Twitter, as one user speculated that the “shawarma costume” was created in July 2015 for an unaired edition of a TUMs commercial series.

Los Angeles-based special effects studio Alterian Inc. said it made the costume for the Alberta government eight years ago.

Founder Tony Gardner told Global News in a statement the donair costume was built for a series of commercials being produced by DDBCanada, an Edmonton-based advertising company.

He said the costume was built in Irwindale, California in July 2015 and then shipped to Alberta.

“We don’t normally create food costumes, but this one was so unique, we had to say yes,” said Gardner, who’s also known for his contribution towards designing the signature helmets for Grammy award-winning electronic duo Daft Punk.

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Surplus Sales Edmonton, the item’s lister, categorized the item’s visual condition as “excellent” and “dusty,” while adding that its overall operational condition is unknown.

The listing states, “Please note this auction will be running longer than usual due to the rarity.”

The auction runs until Aug. 14.

Click to play video: 'King of Donair and VETS Canada team up for National Donair Day'
King of Donair and VETS Canada team up for National Donair Day

— With files from The Canadian Press

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