How is it Still a (Midd) Thing?


By Charlie Ascher

Readers, it is with great pleasure that I welcome you to another year at Middlebury College. Do I really have any grounds to do this? No, not really. You’re back, I’m back, but I’m not your professor or anything, so do you really even care? Regardless, I’d still like to welcome all five of you to my column.

Welcoming aside, why this fine publication still allows me to write is beyond me; my last column was about driving people to McDonald’s. Like anything new, this year has brought about some changes. The car column is dead, and with it, so are the McDonalds runs. Long live the car column. So, I was tasked with coming up with a new column idea. Original and creative person that I am, I decided to take someone else’s idea. After another successful summer as a professional TV watcher and amateur microwave chef, I decided to shamelessly rip-off John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight. Hey, they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. My dad says it’s because I’m lazy. He’s wrong; I’m just efficient.

Last Week Tonight runs a recurring segment descriptively titled “How Is This Still a Thing”, during which they question topics like daylight savings time (which is seriously the worst) and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. Here at Midd, I often find myself asking the same question. I could be asking this question about big things such as our ever-increasing tuition, but naw, I ask this question about vegan riblets. Why? Because vegan riblets are the worst, that’s why. Proctor’s fruit and cheese quesadillas? Hogging study rooms? Lack of Proctor bowls? Bannerweb crashing? How are these still a thing? I’m all about tackling the big issues here in this column. Buckle up; this is going to be hard-hitting investigative journalism. I binge-watched The Newsroom this summer. Don’t worry, I’ve got this under control.

For example, let’s go back to my good friends, vegan riblets. I remember it like it was yesterday, one fine day two years ago, after waiting in the Ross lunch line for probably the lifetime of three generations of gnats, I got to the food. #blessed. After grabbing enough sweet potato fries to feed a family of four, I glanced at the next tray. Sweet! Ribs!

Wrong. Riblets. Through the line, I sat down to eat. Finished with the fries, I went for a huge bite of the “ribs.” At that moment I think I saw death (no exaggeration). Vegan riblets have a taste profile that can be best described as dog-foody and a texture somewhere between cardboard and foam home insulation. After just one bite I got the sense that if an atomic bomb ever hit The College all that would be left would be the Freeman International Center and the leftover vegan riblets.

My lunch was ruined. Vegan riblets are the worst. I know there are at least 37 better vegan meat alternatives, so why in the name of Ron Liebowitz are riblets still being served in the dining halls? This is an institutional tragedy. Vegan riblets, how are they still a thing?