Once a year, Chase Dining Hall hosts a lobster night for students. It’s a time for Wheaton students to gather around with their friends and the larger community to feast and enjoy lobster. Lobster is a huge tradition in New England, mainly due to early maritime economies and an abundance of high yield lobster farms. Many would say that it is an integral part of its history and culture. So it’s only fitting that Wheaton would celebrate this tradition every year with a campus wide lobster night.
When I first walked into the cafeteria I was greeted by the intense smell of lobster, almost like a seafood market. It was quite overwhelming. I was not used to the smell since I am from NYC, where lobster isn’t quite as “worshiped” as it is in Massachusetts. It is still a sort of rare delicacy to me. Unfortunately I did not end up eating the lobster due to the profuse smell, but it looked superb nonetheless. Everyone there seemed overly excited and caught up in the joy of the tradition. It was the talk of the night. Each plate included a whole lobster, potatoes, and some corn. There was also a big table near the seating area where you could get butter, cracking tools for opening the lobster, and a bib.
Lobster night at Wheaton costs around $10,000, not including decorations or additional lobster accommodations. Let that sink in a little bit. Does a portion of our tuition money go towards lobster night? And is it worth the cost for one night? As one anonymous person said, “Why is this school spending this much money on glorified sea bugs?”
I spoke to a few students at the event and created a google form to hear general feedback about the night. Here are some of their responses. One student said lobster night is the best night of the year at Chase. They usually eat about three to five lobsters just because they love lobster so much. Another simply enjoyed the fact that it was an entire lobster and not just a lobster roll. A first time lobster-taster gave it a 4/5 for flavor, 1/5 for ease of eating, and 5/5 for fun factor. A group of friends, Calvin, Kyler, and Jake shared that they really enjoyed the lobster and the corn, but above all, the themed bibs were the best accessory.
One student, Jackson Elwell, ate a whopping five lobsters, and was even aiming for seven. I didn’t count the number of lobsters other students ate, but that may as well be the campus record. Five lobsters! That equates to about 7 pounds of pure lobster, all in one night.
Others were not as impressed by the lobster, but found the decor to be the highlight of the night. One such student is Maddy Guarnieri, who claimed to only eat 2% of her lobster due to the texture. Her least favorite part of the night (and I’m sure many others share the same opinion) was the scent of the lobster, and the way it became infused into the tables and tablecloths. Even now she says she can sometimes still smell it.
But overall, the reviews were mostly positive. As always, lobster night succeeded in bringing many Wheaties together. And it was an enjoyable first-time experience for me as well. As many said, Wheaton should continue to organize more community building experiences like lobster night. Food never fails to bring people together and give them a night (or smell) to remember.