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Thirty-five years ago this month I graduated from college.  I’m proud of it, but, man, it seems like a long time ago.

We played frisbee on the quad.  If you had a decent stereo, it took up one-third of your dorm room.  Ronald Reagan was in the white house. Michael Jackson was at the height of his power.  It was the early days of AIDS and the final days of M*A*S*H.

I would like to say that I started honing my solid eating skills at that tender age, but, sadly that’s not the case.  I once won a six pack of beer off a neighbor for eating something on a dare.

My private, liberal arts college spoiled us in many ways.  While we had one central dining hall on the weekend, several dorms had cafeterias where you could eat three meals a day, Monday through Friday.  How great was it to roll out of bed and walk downstairs for breakfast on a rainy or cold morning? Pretty great.

To the best of my recollection (thirty-five years, don’t forget), here are some of the highlights of four years of college eating.  Be forewarned that not everything was on the meal plan.

ECLAIRS.  Is this really how I want to start this list?  Yes, it is. College ruined whatever affinity I had for eclairs.  I used to love these delicate pastries with the Bavarian cream filling and a stripe of chocolate on top when I was younger. They must have been something we had for special occasions. In college, I don’t remember us having many desserts. Besides eclairs, I’m picturing a cheesecake that was much too smooth, creamy, and tasteless to be cheesecake.  But I remember eclairs often being the default dessert. I ate so many eclairs, today I can’t even look at one.

PIZZA.  Thankfully, pizza in college did not ruin me for pizza after college.  We ate pizza at the student center. We knew every place in town where you could get pizza.  Some were legendary and some were not. It didn’t matter; we ate them all. If anything, I think I could have eaten more pizza in college and been just fine.

SALAD.  You could easily live off of salad in college.  Every meal had a huge salad bar. The weekend dining hall had an even bigger selection of greens and toppings. If you didn’t like what was being served, you could fall back on salad without a problem. Still, I remember thinking at the time, “Who would put chick peas on a salad?”

IHOP.  While there was a popular diner for late night, off campus eating, my crowd was big fans of the International House of Pancakes.  Though I shudder to think how we got there and back, I can still taste their huge cheese omelettes which came with a side order of pancakes.

GRILLED CHEESE.  During my Junior year, one of the Freshmen had a roommate who dropped out.  His double room became a regular hangout. No one had microwaves then but some people had toaster ovens.  Once we savored the deliciousness of a late night grilled cheese sandwich, we all began bringing bread and cheese back from dinner to stock his fridge.

BRUNCH, PART ONE.  If you could drag yourself out of bed on Saturday or Sunday before it ended, brunch was something to look forward to.  You didn’t have to wonder what would be served. You could count on scrambled eggs, home fries, bacon, sausage, and many cups of coffee.  Halfway through, it became less about the food and more of a social event.

BEER.  If you’re lucky enough to go to college, you will drink a lot of beer.  In my Sophomore year, we had t-shirts printed with our dorm name scrolled over the Moosehead beer logo.  I think I still have mine somewhere. But, leaving breweries and craft beer houses aside, can we admit that keg beer is not very good?  After you pumped it to death (because that’s what you do), you had to pour about a hundred glasses before getting anything other than foam.

BRUNCH, PART TWO.  If you knew someone with a car and had a few dollars in your pocket (maybe some students had credit cards but I didn’t), you would go off campus to a restaurant in town that did an amazing brunch.  You would bring your parents there if they came to visit. Omelettes made to order, steamship round, desserts, french toast, and the list goes on. It put our school brunch to shame.

We have been on some college campuses in the last few years and things have changed.  Kids today have a lot more choices. If you are the parent of a college student, you needn’t worry.  The quality of the beer, er, salad is a lot better too.

What was/is your favorite college food?   Please leave a comment…