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Ask The Observer: What happened to Quarter Dogs?

March 2020 marked the beginning of a two-month hiatus away from campus for Notre Dame students. It also marked the beginning of an indefinite, and potentially permanent, hiatus of a campus culinary staple: Quarter Dogs. 

Quarter Dogs were hot dogs sold for 25 cents after midnight in Huddle Mart housed in LaFortune Student Center. Students would file into the Huddle, load up a paper tray with as many buns as they wanted, grab the franks from a heated tray, apply their desired toppings, pay for the subsidized late-night meal with flex points and then loiter in the 69-year old student center while enjoying their meals.

“There was a culture about it,” Pasquerilla West resident assistant (RA) Jade Fung said.

Campus Dining director Luigi Alberganti said in an email it is unlikely that Quarter Dogs will return at a similar pricing model due to today’s “inflationary environment and increased labor costs.”

Stanford Hall assistant rector John Hale would make the short trek to LaFortune Student Center about three times a week as an undergraduate. Though the low price helped draw customers, Hale said the value lay outside the affordability.

“They were a huge part of my Notre Dame experience,” he said.

After a late night of studying, hanging out in LaFortune and eating quarter dogs was a great way to initiate “cross-campus dialogue,” Hale said. The student center is located near the center of campus and draws students from all parts of campus, he added.

“My kind of philosophical take on [quarter dogs] is that human beings need companionship, we need tradition,” Hale said. “I think that if you eliminate wholesome traditions, I think they will be replaced with less wholesome things. So I think quarter dogs are a super innocent, fun, good way to promote culture within the dorms.”

In Alumni Hall, resident Dawgs often avoid eating hot dogs.

“You don’t eat dogs in Alumni. You eat sausage. You eat brats,” rector Jay Verzosa said.

There was one dorm-sponsored exception to this rule: a Sunday night tradition called Grotto Dawgs. Each Sunday night after Mass, Alumni residents traveled to the Grotto to pray as a community and then hike over to LaFortune to feast on Quarter Dogs.

The tradition began in Sept. 2014 and lasted until the suspension of Quarter Dogs in 2020. 

Quarter Dogs never appealed to Nathaniel Burke, a senior RA in Alumni.

“I always say to people, whatever money they’re saving [by eating quarter dogs], they’re going to have to pay back in paying for colon cancer treatment or something like that,” Burke joked.

Though the processed meat involved doesn’t appeal to Burke, he said Alumni residents loved the tradition. 

“There’s a lot of attraction to it just because it’s kind of a hilarious idea,” he said. “I know there are dudes that enjoyed the concept and did eat them.”

Alberganti estimated about a thousand quarter dogs were sold each week. The dogs were subsidized in an attempt to keep students on campus.

During her freshman year, Fung initially found Quarter Dogs gross.

“In the beginning, I was like, ‘that sounds nasty,’” she said.

One day in the second semester, she tried a Quarter Dog at the urging of her friends and was surprised to find she enjoyed the experience.

Fung said the elimination of Quarter Dogs reflects a change in the campus culture following the pandemic.

“I think there’s a lot of things that happened before COVID that are just gone on campus and the culture of campus has just changed,” she said. “I feel like being on campus was definitely way more fun and engaging and random [before COVID].”

It’s unclear whether Quarter Dogs will ever return in any capacity, but if they do, Hale said it is crucial that they are called Quarter Dogs, regardless of the price. He said he would pay up to $2 a piece for a “Quarter Dog.”

“Even with inflation and everything, if they became 50 cent dogs I don’t care,” he said. “I just know, no matter what they cost, they should always be called Quarter Dogs.”

Contact Ryan Peters at rpeters5@nd.edu.