Ross Hickman ‘22 and Lyra Seaborn ‘22

Staff Writers

Commons Ganache Tarts served at dinner. Photo by Katharine Cabot ‘22.

You’ve finished your meal, and though your hunger pangs have abated, you aren’t entirely satisfied. Or perhaps you’re settling in for a cozy evening of watching a certain British baking show, but something is missing. Or you’re out for a walk with friends under the summer sun and crave the feeling of something cold and cloying running down your throat. You know what you want. It’s akin to a lover’s embrace, the exclamation point at the end of a sentence, the last lingering note of your favorite song. That word, exciting, charged, taboo: dessert.

Our dear Commons serves dessert every meal, every day—and their selection seems to have earned student approval. Last week saw a typical slate of confections: trays of soft cookies, coiffed cupcakes, chewy brownies and bars, and, of course, the trifle-like delicacy that is The Scoopie™.

“There are very few desserts that actually crash and burn, while there’s a lot that are really uplifting to your day. The skillets, the scoopies, even, like, just the basic cookies are always good. Very few complaints from me!” gushes John Autry ‘22.

The dining hall also makes sure that everyone can enjoy a sweet treat. Though not well-advertised, Commons keeps vegan, gluten-free, and other allergy-friendly options in the back.

“Occasionally [the desserts] are too sugary, but overall Commons does a good job being aware of everyone’s dietary needs,” says Hanna Kamran ‘23.

Yet for all of the delight dessert brings, most of its connotations are negative. It’s described as an “indulgence,” a “cheat,” a sign of weakness and flimsy morals. It is something parents guard from their children until every last floret of broccoli has been choked down. From childhood we are conditioned to view sweets as Grecian sirens, tantalizing but evil. Cave to their charms and they’ll rot your teeth, curse you with sprays of pimples, and ruin your metabolism!

Going to college is overwhelming for many reasons, one of them being the sudden freedom we find ourselves to possess. There’s no disapproving parent looking over our shoulders to tell us to stay away from the cake. However, there is the metaphorical disapproving parent that is diet culture (and really, diet culture is why the parent is disapproving to begin with).

Let’s be clear: by diet culture, we mean our society’s tendency to applaud weight loss (no matter the method used) and uphold a highly exclusive definition of “health.” Diet culture spawns and even encourages eating disorders. It proliferates lies surrounding nutrition. Diet culture is classist, ableist, racist, and capitalist. And it hates dessert – at least, any dessert that isn’t low-carb, sugar-free, protein-packed, etc.

Campus nutritionist Julie Whittington argues in support of desserts of all kinds.

“Dessert is something that can be enjoyed and the frequency is all dependent on the individual, but [no one] should have fear of dessert. Don’t believe in ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods,” she says. “I’m a dietician and I eat dessert almost every day, and there’s nothing wrong with [that]… Dessert can make up part of a healthy diet.”

No longer viewing dessert – or any food – as “forbidden” lessens its power. Having dessert simply becomes another option, an option that will be there many more times, an option which may or may not sound appealing depending on the day.

So, we are vehemently pro-dessert (and pro-broccoli). Pass the scoopie, please!