With the completion of the North Campus Dining Hall in 2014 came an unforseen issue that sparked a delicious debate as divisive as vanilla vs. chocolate. The question is: Old Pit or New Pit? Which dining hall is better? No student has dared to tackle this question objectively up to this point, so that is why it is time to examine the evidence from both sides.
To gather some preliminary input on this issue, I asked several students to tell me their Pit preferences. The question was: which Pit is your favorite and why? When I reviewed the responses from this small sample of students, I found that they were divided half and half between lovers of the New Pit and lovers of the Old Pit.
Senior Alice Pauly, a fan of the New Pit, said, “[New Pit] has a better setup and atmosphere.”
Sitting next to Pauly was senior Caroline Perkins, who told me that she had not been to the New Pit at all this year. “I like the increased freedom of the Old Pit,” Perkins said.
Other students agreed with Perkins, and praised the Old Pit for its larger quantity of food options and its all-you-care-to-eat policy. This is opposed to New Pit’s all-you-can-fit-on-one-plate policy, which senior Victoria Grace said, “is too much pressure.”
However, it seems to be a commonly-held belief that the New Pit has better food. Junior Evan Potts said, “[New Pit] has better quality food, especially for their weekend breakfasts.” Freshman Alexandra Miller agreed. “New Pit has healthier food options that taste fresher,” said Miller.
Even junior Madison Bragg, who goes to the Old Pit more frequently, said, “If it were closer to my dorm, I would go to the New Pit for the better food.”
But does the New Pit really serve higher quality food? To answer this question, I had to perform a blind taste test. So I got two to-go boxes, one from each dining hall, and made my way to Babcock Residence Hall where I met freshmen Jarod Koenig and Lucy Peterson who agreed to take part in the experiment. Neither of them had eaten at the dining halls that night, so they had no idea what was on the menu.
I presented each of them with what I thought was a typical plate of food from each dining hall consisting of a pasta salad appetizer, a chicken entrée and cupcake dessert. I labeled the plates “A” and “B” to hide the identity of their origins. The participants rated each component of the plates on a scale of one to five (one being very bad and five being very good) on the criteria of taste and appearance.
Here are the results by category:
In this category, the Old Pit offered a penne pasta salad with broccoli and Roma tomatoes, while the New Pit prepared a bowtie pasta with alfredo dressing, bacon and peas.
When it came to appearance, one participant remarked that the Old Pit’s pasta salad was “pretty, with the red and green contrasting color.” On the other hand, the New Pit’s pasta salad, “looked bland.” An allergy kept one of the participants from tasting the New Pit’s pasta salad, so this portion of the experiment will not be included in quantitative analysis.
One participant did try both pasta salads and commented that the Old Pit’s pasta salad was “unpleasantly peppery, but tasted bland overall.” Both pasta salads were cooked to “al dente” perfection, according to the participants. However, the New Pit’s pasta salad was “a bit slimy, but better than the other pasta salad.”
This category featured grilled chicken from the Old Pit and fried chicken from the New Pit. Appearance was not much of a factor in this category, although the charred look of the grilled chicken was attractive to one of the participants.
On the grounds of taste, the Old Pit delivered a “juicy and well-seasoned grilled chicken,” one participant said. The fried chicken from the New Pit also garnered some good reviews from the participants. One participant said, “[the fried chicken] was tasty and moist.” In contrast, the fried chicken was “dry, very dry, but nice and crispy,” according to the other participant. The scores reflected the comments by the participants, as the Old Pit’s grilled chicken earned an average score of 4 on taste and 4 on appearance. The New Pit’s fried chicken earned a score of 3 on taste and 2.5 on appearance.
Now for the best part of any meal: dessert. The Old Pit offered a chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting and blue sprinkles for this category, while the New Pit delivered a lemon cupcake with vanilla frosting. “The sprinkles are weak,” said one participant immediately when they saw the Old Pit’s chocolate cupcake. In appearance, the New Pit’s cupcake, “needed more frosting,” said the same participant.
When it came to taste, the Old Pit’s chocolate cupcake was “dense and dry,” according to both participants, while the New Pit’s lemon cupcake was deemed by one participant as “delicious, even though the frosting tasted more artificial than that of the other cupcake.” The Old Pit’s chocolate cupcake earned a 2.5 out of 5 in taste and 3.5 out of 5 in appearance, while New Pit’s lemon cupcake earned a 4 out of 5 in taste and a 2 out of 5 on appearance.
The blind taste test was inconclusive. The Old Pit earned an average total score of 14 while the New Pit earned an 11.5, but on taste alone, the New Pit scored higher with a 7 against the Old Pit’s 6.5.
It’s too close to call, especially based on the small pool of results I gathered here. So the debate goes on: Old Pit or New Pit? My answer: they’re both great in their own way. Nonetheless, we can all agree that the hard-working and friendly staff of each dining hall make eating at Wake Forest a terrific experience. They all deserve a 5 out of 5.