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Disappearance of PhillyTM from Lobdell Is Disgraceful

Column by Saul Blumenthal and Dan McGuire
Staff Reporters

Tech policy bars staff members from writing letters to the editor, so we're going to have to resort to the form of exposition known as the column to make our perhaps silly comments known. But we hope you take us just as seriously as if we had been writing a real letter.

The object of our derision is the cream cheese served at the Lobdell Food Court. This is something that most of you probably don't give much thought to, but as Saul is a New Yawker and a qualified bagel connoisseur, and Dan is a southerner who knows Grits (and kind of misses them, along with biscuits with sausage gravy), this is something we take seriously.

Back in the good ol' days, one could go to the Lobdell bagel stand, pick up a (hopefully not stale) bagel, walk a few feet to the salad bar, and grab a pack of Philadelphia cream cheese; it came in long silver blister packs that you could effortlessly rip open and splat out on your bagel.

This system work-ed great, except when you picked up a stale bagel by accident. The method Dan prefers to use, by the way, is to give a bagel at the bagel counter a quick squeeze with the tongs. If the bagel gives, it's either fresh or wet. If it fails to give or shatters, it's a good bet that it's not fresh.

This procedure may take some practice because the tongs are unwieldy. Don't be discouraged, though. If you drop the bagel simply discreetly kick it under the cash register so no one notices until it ripens. If you fling it into the salad bar, try to bury it in the Thousand Island dressing. If you hit someone, flee on foot.

Anyway, enough about the bagels themselves; a whole column could be written about them alone. The point is that several months ago the packs of Philly cream cheese disappeared, and no one knows where. Our pet theory is that aliens from another dimension took them to fuel their great war machines and then proceeded to take over the minds of Aramark staffers. While we all can probably offer anecdotes that support this idea (again, worthy of a column on its own), a irrefutable and intuitively obvious proof will be furnished later (at least of the alien part, as no one who has seen the great war machines has lived to tell the tale).

"Out with the Philly, in with the with Pauly" seems to have been embedded in the minds of those same Aramark staffers. Pauly cream cheese comes in bricks covered in foil, whose outside is attractively festooned with dry cream cheese. Both of us really detest this stuff. No New Yorker in his right mind should have to stand for this, and even the Southerner amongst us doesn't like the cheese because it has an aftertaste that resembles what you might get if you burned a frisbee.

Both of us submitted complaints to Aramark. The response, which we now have framed as conclusive proof that aliens walk among is, is that "Lobdell changed cream cheese brands because we had many complaints that it was difficult to get the cream cheese out of the packet and much of it was wasted," according to Aramark's Paula DiBiase. We suppose that this is a legitimate gripe, but our thought is that the ketchup packs are exactly the same as the old Philly packs, and yet as far as we know Lobdell has not yet resorted to serving its ketchup in little bricks wrapped in tin foil. Perhaps one way to make MIT even more selective would be to have students demonstrate their cream cheese package opening abilities at their admission interviews. Surely admissions would drop by half.

Much time has passed, and miraculously we have survived the alien invasion. Lobdell has even made some amends. The Pauly is still there, unfortunately, but it is occasionally supplemented with Philly Lite cream cheese, which comes in little tubs. Our theory is that the aliens can't use Lite cheese the same way most cars these days can't use leaded fuel. Granted, this stuff tastes better than the Pauly, but it is less filling than the leading brand of cream cheese and it still tastes dreadful compared to normal, silver, Philly cheese.

So that is where we stand right now. We urge you all to stagger out of bed tomorrow morning at 7:30 a.m. and take your complaints directly to the staff at Lobdell, who will probably look at you strangely because you haven't brushed your teeth and because you're only wearing a bath robe (if that). Also feel free to send mail to meal@mit.edu and to mention The Tech in your mail.

Failing that, we ask that you write letters to your respective state representatives, or governments back home for the international students, urging them to establish a Strategic Philly Cream Cheese Reserve in one of those square states near the middle of the country, so that we can preserve this vital national and trans-dimensional resource.

Also, Lobdell folks, to dispel the myth that you're actually alien puppets sent here to rob us of our dairy products, you must return the Philly cream cheese. Otherwise, it's off to the government lab with you.