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Bids climb as Alberta government auctions off ‘excellent, dusty’ donair suit

One large donair costume to go, please.
A donair is displayed on a plate in Dartmouth, N.S., on Thursday, October 22, 2015. The Alberta government is auctioning off a large donair costume, complete with imitation meat, sauce, tomatoes and lettuce, as a part of its online surplus auction. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

One large donair costume to go, please.

The Alberta government is selling a donair costume as a part of its surplus auction. The wrap is enrobed in tinfoil and comes complete with replica meat, onions, tomatoes, lettuce and a dribbling of donair sauce, all of which look real enough to eat.

The listing says the 1.4-metre-high costume snack is made of latex, vulcanized rubbers and synthetics, and it comes with a silver body suit to complete the “authentic tinfoil look.”

The meaty suit was posted Friday to the Alberta government’s online auction site, where it sells items it no longer uses. Bids opened at $50 and crept up in small increments before leaping to $1,000 on Wednesday.

The auction has generated interest as far away as Halifax, which declared the hand-held wrap its official food in 2015.

Nicholas Nahas, co-owner of the Halifax-based King of Donair franchise, has been monitoring the bidding and says he’s interested in buying the costume.

“A costume like that belongs in Halifax,” Nahas said in an interview Wednesday. “There’s no question about it.”

The restaurant’s founder, Peter Gamoulakos, is credited with bringing donair to Canada in 1973 and making it a Halifax staple. He adapted the gyro sandwich from his native Greece, replacing lamb with spiced ground beef and tzatziki with a sweet sauce.

The costume’s visual condition is described on the government website as “excellent” if “dusty.” Potential buyers are advised, however, that its “overall operational condition” is unknown.

This is not the first donair costume Nahas has heard of, but he has “never seen anything of this quality before,” he said. “It’s pretty legit.”

He noted the costume, in its current form, clearly depicts a Western Canadian version of the wrap, as it features a controversial ingredient among the donair meat: lettuce. “We don’t use lettuce …. The OG, original gangster, donair is just onion, tomato, donair,” Nahas explained.

As the dish moved west, “it picked up lettuce along the way,” he said, but ordering a donair with lettuce remains “almost sacrilege” on the East Coast. If he does end up with the costume, Nahas said he might paint over the lettuce.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 19, 2023.

— With files from Sarah Smellie in St. John’s, N.L.

Marlo Glass, The Canadian Press