Undergraduate Student Blog, Speaking of Princeton

Undergraduate Student Blog

Author: Lauren Frost ’16

Oak Park, Illinois • Art History View Profile

An Hour in an Eel Costume

Or, the 2015 Latke Hamentaschen debate

Have you ever stopped to wonder, in a moment of utter woe and misery, if perhaps all the sorrows in your life are caused not by fate, but by a flaky, oily, potato-based food often served with sour cream and applesauce?

I know I have. And that is why I spoke against the latke and in defense of the hamentaschen in Princeton's annual Latke Hamentaschen debate.

Every year, professors and students team up to argue about which is the superior Jewish food in an event co-sponsored by the Whig-Clio Society and the Center for Jewish Life. The arguments often become silly and satirical quickly, but I decided to treat this debate with the utmost sincerity. Especially since I was competing against my arch-nemesis, Eliot Linton.

Latke Hamentaschen debate poster

Linton and Professor Jill Dolan represented the latke, while Professor Michael Gordin and I went to bat for the hamentaschen. The debate was moderated by Shirley Tilghman, former president of the University, who claimed to be impartial (although I suspect she has quite a few latke skeletons in her closet!).

Linton's presentation discussed the phylogeny of Jewish foods. He claimed that while original researchers placed latkes in the simple foods group and hamentaschen in the complex foods group, recent research suggests that hamentaschen are more closely related to gross foods. 

Phylogenetic tree of Jewish foods
He even cited himself, down at the bottom. I don't trust it.

He also discussed an article that he supposedly co-wrote with Tilghman and Charles Darwin.

Jewish foods article
Wait a second... Charles Darwin? But he's dead! Why didn't I say something?!

Linton is an ecology and evolutionary biology major, so I trusted his science. But all those charts and graphs couldn't hold a candle to my incredibly artistic presentation.

The Hamentaschen. Art. Beauty. Majesty.
I'll never trust a PowerPoint that WASN'T made with Microsoft Paint.

I began with a short discussion of the importance of the hamentaschen throughout art history.

Creation of Adam with hamentaschen
Without the hamentaschen, would this even be a recognizable image?

But I quickly transitioned into an ad hominem attack in which I urged the audience not to trust Linton. I presented a timeline of an average day in Linton's life as evidence that he was not trustworthy.

Eliot Timeline 1
9:30 AM: Eliot wakes up.

Eliot Timeline 2
10:30 AM: Eliot kicks a baby.

Eliot Timeline 3
1:30 PM: Eliot pays his female employees 77 cents for every dollar he gives his male employees.

Even Dolan was not safe from my pursuit of the truth.

Eliot Timeline 4

I concluded my argument with a shocking reveal. Throughout my presentation, I had made frequent references to an ice skating routine that I performed in fourth grade while wearing a giant sequined eel costume.

Me in an eel costume
At least it was warm.

At the end of the debate, I revealed that I was wearing that very same eel costume. In fact, I had been wearing it under my clothes for the last hour. I undressed to reveal the full costume, and the crowd went wild. Some people were perhaps wondering what my eel costume had to do with the hamentaschen's superiority over the latke, and to those people I say, uh, hmm, yeah, good point. But it killed nonetheless!

In the end, much to my horror, the hamentaschen was vanquished. Audience members voted for the crisp, tasty latke. Still, I hope this blog post caused you, the brave and valiant prospective students of Princeton University, to reconsider your beliefs and side with the hamentaschen. We can rid the world of evil, one potato pancake at a time.

(Just in case you were worried, Linton and I aren't actually enemies. I write for the talk show he hosts and we writers only sometimes write weird stuff for it.)

(And if this post has sparked your interest, you can watch a video of the entire debate here. Crazy to hear what my voice sounds like, right? I bet you didn't think I'd sound that much like Daria!)