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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.

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Don’t talk to me before I’ve had my morning coffee

The basis of this Inside column started about 10 months ago. As I walked to the back of our lovely office and fired up the Keurig once more at about 4 a.m. This was of course, during the insanity of the Brian Kelly exit and ensuing chaos, which led to…more than one all-nighter. That particular Thursday night/Friday morning, we were working on a final timeline of everything that had happened in the past week, and with that monster project due, plus an actual academic project due at 11 a.m., it was a big night for coffee.

The beauties of student journalism, am I right? But the point of this column, written on a rare day following eight hours of sleep, is not to recount the cups of coffee consumed in a desperate effort to stay awake. Rather, it is to rank my coffee-drinking experiences on campus over the last 3+ years. Much of this ranking will be based on my extremely objective and correct ranking of coffee quality, but also, and certainly rather unfairly, some will be judged on the context in which it was consumed. So sorry to any coffee I consumed in the ungodly hours of 3 a.m. in the library – you won’t rank high. Here’s the list, ranked worst to best.

South Dining Hall

It’s hot…some of the times. And it’s not good…most of the time. Anyways, onto the next.

Chick Fil A

I am not here to slander Chick Fil A’s sauce. However, I will slander their coffee. It’s easily the worst coffee I’ve purchased with flex points and it’s not close. I’ve gotten it twice, once with sweetener and once without. Neither saves it.  

Bottled Dunkin Coffee from the Huddle

Part of this ranking is contextual. I really have only gotten these during late night Hesburgh grinds when a 3 or 4 a.m. bedtime was inevitable. But they’re not great and extremely sugary, which just isn’t my taste in coffee. So I avoid these in most cases.

Common Grounds Coffee

Why hasn’t this reopened? I would like an answer. The convenience factor raises this simple coffee cart way up the list. Although they didn’t have iced coffee, which is my favorite, they had well-made hot coffee with a variety of blends and creamer options. Situated right in DeBart, it was a perfect pick-me-up in the middle of a long day of classes.

Einstein’s Coffee

RIP Einsteins. My freshman year place of employment is of course no longer located in the bookstore. Einstein’s was my main freshman year coffee. My location in Baumer made it a convenient stopping point en route to class. It had a nice selection of hot and iced coffee and their frozen caramel coffee was a fantastic dessert option.

Starbucks

I don’t mean to offend the cult-like following of Starbucks, but this only ranks third on my list. It’s good, but it’s not special. I’m also a lifelong Dunkin kid, so Starbucks has always ranked second on my list. Plus it sucks up flex points whenever I do order it, and it’s not conveniently located to any of my classes, so I rarely order it.

ABP

ABP’s value is off the charts. I don’t know the exact size of the large iced coffee there, but you can fill that sucker up for a touch over three dollars, and it will last me two classes, easily. That’s a great deal and it’s location in Hesburgh is convenient to grab as a coffee during extended studying efforts. Plus, the hot coffee is really good. Starbucks quality is probably higher, but the value I get from ABP is borderline unmatched.

Hagerty Family Cafe

Dating back to Accepted Student’s Day, Hagerty was my first cup of coffee on campus. Their standard hot coffee offering is great, but I love their cold brew. Plus, for those who are fans of seasonal coffee, Hagerty’s various lattes, (I can personally vouch for the apple crisp latte), absolutely slap. No questions asked. Plus, the location in Duncan Student Center is incredibly convenient for me to grab between classes. Members of my 11 a.m. Digital Marketing class this semester could certainly vouch for the sheer number of times I’ve come to class with a cold brew from Hagerty.

That’s the list. I’ve settled into my coffee drinking routine (plus or minus a few a day, depending on my schedule) but hopefully this might inform your choices as well. Although I’d recommend avoiding the 4 a.m. McDonald’s K-Cup…9 out of 10 doctors say this reflects remarkably bad things about your current sleep schedule.

You can contact Aidan at athoma28@nd.edu.

The views expressed in this Inside column are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Observer.