News

An Open Letter to the Spangler Dining Hall Staff

Friday, September 19, 2003, 2:54 p.m.

Dear Mr. Goldstone and Restaurant Associates:
I’m writing to thank you from the very depths of my Spangler-fed heart for some outstanding customer service I received a couple weeks ago. You went above and beyond the call of duty to satisfy one hungry student’s needs.

Every day you all greet me with a smile. Every day I find myself confronted with a wide variety of tasty lunchtime treats. And every day of my entire first year, I looked forward to the tastiest treat in all of Spangler – the famous (or now infamous?) Wasabi Peas.

But then something changed. I got back for my second year, excited to see friends and start the new school year, but mostly to savor, once again, those delicious Wasabi Peas. And they were gone. Gone from the large bowl where they resided at the end of salad bar, replaced by individual containers way too large for one serving – rendering them wholly inaccessible to those of us who had come to depend on them each day. And this is where my sordid tale begins…

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For the amusement of my classmates (and the embarrassment of myself), I will highlight an abbreviated version of my recent correspondence with Mr. Goldstone.

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Friday, September 19, 2003, 6:24 p.m.

Dear Mr. Goldstone and Restaurant Associates:
I am writing to lament an issue that is very near and dear to my heart – the removal of the Wasabi Peas from their rightful place on the salad bar.

On several occasions, I have inquired about the Wasabi Peas’ mysterious disappearance, and subsequent reappearance on the special side display, where “luxury” items may be purchased separately for a somewhat exorbitant fee. The Spangler staff have explained that the specialty peas were simply too expensive to be placed on the equal-opportunity salad bar, and have since been moved and packaged so they may command a premium price. Students must now decide: do I really want those Wasabi Peas? Is it worth the $1.75?

More importantly, the prepackaged portions of Wasabi Peas are larger than what I want or need on any given day. The net result of the increased cost and inappropriate portion size has resulted in me eliminating Wasabi Peas from my salad, thereby foregoing the single best part of my salad, my lunch, and often my day.

I am requesting that you return the Wasabi Peas to their rightful place on the salad bar, and let hungry students enjoy the delectable treat once again. Thank you in advance for your consideration to this urgent matter.

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Monday, September 22, 2003 10:24 a.m.

Dear Danielle:
I really appreciate you taking the time to send us your thoughts and feedback. Those wasabi peas are good, I love them too.

I will look into the wasabi pea arena in more depth after I send this off to you. In the meantime, I want to let you know how the peas migrated from the condiment area to the condiment containers. The real issue, from our view, is one of food safety.

For several years we had kept the peas in a large bowl at the condiment area. They are a great topping on salads. They are also a great snack on their own. Unfortunately, the way we had them out posed a health concern, as people invariably reached into the bowls and grabbed handfuls at a time. The peas are good to munch on while walking around the cafe.

It can be challenging to enforce individual sanitation guidelines. Salad bars are notorious areas for “grazing” behaviors. Many people are not even conscious of the fact that they are reaching in with their bare hands to “sample” food as they peruse the bar. We are worried about the potential for spreading germs.

The decision to remove the peas from the open bowl and put them into 4oz souffl‚ cups was necessary in order to maintain a healthy environment. The containers we put them in might be too large for an individual portion, and that is something I can address. How would you feel if we put the peas in 2 oz containers and charged considerably less for them?

I look forward to your reply.

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Monday, September 22, 2003 3:29 p.m.

Dear Mr. Goldstone and Restaurant Associates:
Thank you for your quick response to my email. I must admit, I didn’t realize the health implications that you discussed, but am well aware of the seriousness of that consideration.

First, to respond to your question of reduced size and price, I certainly agree that this would be preferable to the current situation. However, I believe there may be another solution. Given the widespread nature of this problem, I believe students would be willing to chip in to help solve this problem, and bring back those delicious peas.

What if we considered a widespread marketing campaign to encourage better behavior – relying strictly on the utensils, rather than one’s hands, to take items from the salad bar? By asking students’ help in this very serious problem, I think they would be willing to do so – especially if it meant bringing back the wasabi peas. Does this solution seem amenable?

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Monday, September 22, 2003 5:19 p.m.

Dear Danielle:
I am at a loss for words. I have never encountered such passion over wasabi peas before.

I appreciate your willingness to get involved in educating people about using the proper utensils, but I don’t feel that is a burden you should carry. The problem with those peas is that they are so good. They lend themselves to be snacked on, tempting little devils that they are.

I will work on getting them packed in smaller containers. I hope that this
is a good start towards a solution that will work for you.

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Monday, September 22, 2003 9:09 p.m.

Dear Mr. Goldstone and Restaurant Associates:
Yes, I do feel passionately about the wasabi peas, but am also representing other voices that want to be heard! I appreciate the interim solution, and hope that this will be more amenable for all.

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I must interrupt our correspondence briefly. Upon arriving in the beloved Spanger Dining Hall salad bar line the very next day, I found to my sheer amazement and delight the newly packaged peas in smaller 2 oz. containers, placed in their old home – nestled between the trusted croutons and bacon bits, priced at a mere $0.30. Needless to say, it was nothing short of miraculous.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2003 3:25 p.m.

Dear Mr. Goldstone and Restaurant Associates:
Hooray! The new packaging is perfect, the location was wonderful, and the price is just right – I can’t believe how quickly you were able to turn this around. The response, as far as I can tell, was extremely positive – I can’t thank you enough for creating a better solution for the wasabi peas!

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Monday, September 23, 2003 5:36 p.m.

Dear Danielle:
All’s well that ends well.

November 10, 2003
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