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Puberty Hit Zeppos Dining Hall Like a Truck

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Vanderbilt chapter.

“If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would you choose?” My answer would have to be the person that ranks “Best Campus Food” college programs for The Princeton Review.

For those of you that do not know, The Princeton Review is an educational services company that grants a variety of resources for students. If you ever lurked around your local Barnes & Noble before, you most likely passed by the “test preparation” section and noticed many books were splattered in the most heinous, luminescent yellow. Yes, that would be The Princeton Review.

However, The Princeton Review does “so” much more than that. They publish annual rankings of American universities and claim their ranking lists are based on what “students attending the schools in our Best Colleges book tell us.” Do I trust them? Absolutely not.

According to The Princeton Review’s 2023 rankings for “Best Campus Food,” Vanderbilt University secured the sixth spot. They scored a spot right below Washington University in St. Louis (WashU) and right above the University of Dayton (UD).

PSA: Do not listen to The Princeton Review.

As aforementioned, students attending Vanderbilt spoke to representatives at The Princeton Review about the dining hall experience. Question: Who, in their right mind, told The Princeton Review that our dining hall food was good? Therefore, I am personally requesting an annotated bibliography, in MLA format, from the individual that approved this list at The Princeton Review, because I simply disagree.

Now, I am not well-informed about WashU or UD dining, but what I do know is that Vanderbilt’s dining last year was not it. Don’t get me wrong, our dining hall food last year was edible. The Pub prepared tender BBQ wings, Rand cookies were always hot off the press, and Rothschild’s aromatic garlic bread did it for me every single time. They had their moments, but overall, our food was not good enough to achieve the sixth spot on that list.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with our dining experience, Vandy’s Meal Plan system showcases several different options. We have residential dining halls, retail dining locations, on-campus cafés, and Munchie Marts. Last year, I religiously visited the shiny, new toy at Vanderbilt – Rothschild Dining Hall.

Rothschild had its grand new opening last fall and was the place to be. I always knew Rothschild’s Gourmet Grille station would never fail me. It was literally burgers and fries – sweet and simple. I went there so much that nearly all of my BeReal photos were taken at those long tables. Nonetheless, one place I shunned was Nicholas S. Zeppos Dining Hall. So sorry, Nicholas, but Zeppos failed us last year. The thing is,  Zeppos wasn’t that bad, but it offered the same thing, over and over again – salad bar, sandwich bar, and online-ordered custom pizzas. Zeppos dining lacked creativity, seasoning, and diversity.

Let’s put it this way. Last year, Rothschild had the longest lines and finding a seat was harder than passing Vandy Gen Chem. Meanwhile, Zeppos had no lines, most seats were empty, and you would only go if you had to eat quickly before a club meeting. That was how it was last year, but let’s talk about this year.

After rejuvenating my body during this interesting summer break (if you know, you know), I am pleasantly surprised with Zeppos Dining Hall. Therefore, I, Sophia Kim, am now declaring Zeppos Dining Hall the place to be.

While other dining halls experienced glow-downs (all eyes on Rothschild), Zeppos – the underdog of feeding hungry college students on Vanderbilt’s campus – experienced a major glow up. But before I praise Zeppos, I ought to talk about the disappointing behavior from Rothschild.

Rothschild Dining Hall was a one-hit wonder. It was the star of the show, at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for over 30 weeks. This year, Rothschild Dining Hall is the third Hemsworth brother – forgotten. Liam and Chris represent all of the other dining halls, and Luke is Rothschild. I hope my analogies helped you understand this concept a tad bit better.

Honestly, Rothschild’s switcheroo was sacrilegious. None of my friends want to go there and neither do I. First of all, the new table arrangement inside Rothschild breaks all Feng Shui laws. My beloved Gourmet Grille station ghosted everyone and is probably never coming back. She said HAGS and was never seen again. I hope Rothschild is doing well and maybe I will cross paths with her again, but as of now, Rothschild is somebody that I used to know.

Zeppos is the new it-girl. Remember when Serena van der Woodsen got back to the Upper East Side from her Connecticut boarding school and she became the talk of the town? That wasn’t Serena, it was actually Zeppos van der Bilt. Zeppos is experiencing a satisfying redemption arc this year and I am her biggest fan.

To begin, Zeppos now presents a decadent pizza station with inclusive toppings. Last year, they had an online ordering system that I never remembered to use. Today, the in-person pizza station offers various options for sauces, cheeses, and types of breads. I feel like I’m on top of the world when I’m ordering my toppings to the Zeppos Dining Hall worker. When I walk into Zeppos these days, I often mistake the place with Blaze Pizza. I’m expecting to see Lebron James behind the counter.

Not only that, but during lunch hours, they have a taco station. This takes Chipotle out of the conversation. This taco station has been changing lives, and I’m hearing testimonial after testimonial about this glorious taco station. She gets the job done.

I also knew things were changing for the better once I locked eyes with the slushie machine. She twirls her little gears throughout the day, and I applaud her for her dedication and hardwork. Honestly, I hope the slushie machine wins the Presidential Medal of Freedom one day.

The school year is just starting, and I don’t want to risk jinxing anything . There could be a huge turn around and Zeppos enters her flop era. Who knows? Maybe #ZepposIsOverParty will be trending on Twitter (I am not calling it X, sorry not sorry to Elon Musk) next week. Maybe Zeppos will pull an Aaron Rodgers and sit out for (probably) the rest of the season. Yet, I will say this. I am now iffy about Vanderbilt’s placement on The Princeton Review’s 2023 “Best Campus Food” – not against it nor for it. The food most definitely improved, but I question if we’re worthy to be included in the Top 10. All I can say is: TBD.

As I close this piece, I change my answer to the question above. “If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would you choose?” If I could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, I would choose the person that managed to conduct a complete makeover for Zeppos Dining Hall, and I plan on happily devouring my custom pizza pie during this hypothetical dinner.

Sophia Kim

Vanderbilt '24

Hey there! My name is Sophia and I'm a fourth-year at Vanderbilt University. I am the Editor-in-Chief for Her Campus at Vanderbilt. I'm from New York -- specifically Long Island and NOT the Big Apple (unfortunately). I'm currently pursuing a major in Philosophy, but I'm also on the pre-dental track. Take a read and let me know if you find at least one of my pieces to be somewhat enjoyable. Contact: sophia.s.kim[at]vanderbilt[dot]edu