For over 30 years, Hood College’s Late Night Breakfast has served as an opportunity for students to relieve pre-exam stress and socialize over a hot meal.
Originating in 1982 as a stress-busting event, Late Night Breakfast is an annual event at Hood that takes place the Sunday night before final exams start. While the regular version of the event is held at the end of the fall semester, a Late Night Strawberry Breakfast is held at the end of the spring semester to reflect the availability of warm season fruits.
“We want students to have something warm and comforting before exams start,” Gretchen Nonemaker, Hood College’s Director of Student Engagement and Orientation, said about the event.
The first documented reference to the event was from the Dec. 9, 1982 edition of The Blue & Grey. In the Letters to the Editor section, an anonymous student from Rhode Island left a snarky comment on the event for readers.
“It would be a wonderful idea,” the letter stated, “but I think that there is enough tension created by exam week without encouraging students to pull ‘all-nighters’ with a blimpo breakfast in the middle of it…I expect it to resemble the stiffs in a morgue coming alive for a final farewell before they go down under.”
Two years later, the Breakfast became embroiled in controversy when a massive food fight broke out among students present. The food service at the time, Marriott, withdrew its support of the event and began renegotiating its contract with Hood.
Several months later, Sylvia G. Turner, the Dean of Students, wrote a letter in the Feb. 7, 1985 edition of The Blue & Grey. She strongly criticized students who took part in the food fight, and encouraged anyone with information about who started it to speak to her.
“It is a pity that the majority of Hood students, who have conducted themselves considerably at the breakfast, may lose out on future breakfasts because of the misconduct of a minority of students,” she said. “This is why we must have a full accounting now.”
Although no reports of students being punished for the breakfast have been found, Marriott relented and continued to support the event in the following years.
Marriott also underwent scrutiny from Hood administrators and students. Despite several attempts to improve sanitation and menu options, students continued to criticize the food service. For example, in the fall semester of 1999, cockroach infestations plagued Coblentz and forced dining hall officials to hire several exterminators and spray their equipment nightly.
Eventually, the college replaced Marriott with Aramark as its food service. Aramark continues to support Late Night Breakfast to this day.
From the 1980s to today, Hood’s Late Night Breakfast has served as a reprieve for exhausted students to destress and unwind with their peers. In the tense final weeks of the semester, that opportunity can be a godsend.
“It’s nice that the faculty and staff get involved,” Mary Atwell, an archivist and CDS manager at the Beneficial-Hodson Library, said. “It’s kind of a way of having them assist the students with something that gives them that stress relief, because I am sure that they are up studying late into the night before finals.”