7. Food on Campus

Ashley Hunt

Food on Campus

The first Homecomings included pep barbecues as activities alongside the favorite ISU pep rally. 

Since then, the pep barbecue has been eliminated, and then brought back in a new form.

Iowa State’s first pep barbecue was held during the Homecoming of 1930 in the form of “Hamburgers for Homecoming.”

Hamburgers for Homecoming provided meals for students including steak, beans, pickles, apples and coffee for 3,000 students. This event was the first time the entire campus was able to eat as a whole group since the burning of Old Main.

The event was also the first time Greek houses did not serve any evening meals.

Also during the barbecue, which was joined by events such as the pep rally and bonfire, provided entertainment as well. Students could see the men’s quartet, pajama relays and fixed boxing matches. 

During World War II, the country saw a shortage of ground meat. This changed the name from “Hamburgers for Homecoming” to “Wieners in Wartime.”

The barbecue and bonfire has jumped from location to location over the years and eventually moved to Central Campus.

As the pep rally grew in popularity, the bonfire and barbecue decreased in attendance and was eventually taken from the list of activities in 1970.

The barbecue made another appearance in the 90s, as a new version of the event. This event was in the form of a buffet. Held in Hilton Coliseum, it served approximately 3,000 students and alumni before the football game.

The buffet has since become tradition as a pregame meal and continues today in the form of the Cyclone Central tailgate inside the Iowa State Alumni Center prior to each home football game.

The pep barbecue came back in another version in the mid 1980s as a mass sack lunch on Central Campus.

1985 saw around 50 “brown-baggers” before the lunch gained popularity and transformed to one lunch during Homecoming week to a number of barbecues and other meals.

“Food on Campus” was established in the 2000s. This event allowed for a meal to be served every day during Homecoming week on Central Campus. 

The event attracts more than 1,000 students, faculty and staff each day. Meals typically served include pizza, pork burgers and walking tacos among other things.

Students can eat a meal each day with a purchase of a Homecoming button for just $5.

Food on Campus provides an opportunity for students to gather for lunch and encourages collaboration and bonding between students during the week of Homecoming.