The Quick 10: 10 Strange College Traditions

Most colleges have a campus-specific tradition or two that you simply must participate in before you graduate. Here are a few of them - be sure to leave a comment and tell us what your college or alma mater does!

1. Naked Quad Run - Tufts University, Medford, MA.
I don't need a special day to run around naked, but apparently they do at Tufts. On the night before winter reading period, many Tufts students throw off the shackles of clothing all the way from West Hall to the Residential Quad. The tradition originated when Tufts, an all-male school, and Jackson College, an all-female school, were combined to create the Tufts we know today. Many young men, angry at the flagrant display of women's rights, took matters into their own hands, or, er, other parts, by streaking in front of the President.

2. Cadet Versus Civilian Snowball Fight - Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA.
Just as Tufts used to be all-male, Virginia Tech used to be all Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). In honor of its heritage, civilians and cadets engage in a no-holds-barred snowball fight during the first big snowfall of every year. If you're at VT, see snow, and hear a fire alarm, you best run for cover. The cadets are coming. Check out the 2010 fight:

3. Healy Howl - Georgetown University, Washington, DC.

By far, without a doubt, undeniably, incontrovertibly, irrefutably, The Exorcist was one of the scariest movies ever made. Few, however, know that it was filmed in part on the Georgetown campus. The film is showed on Copley lawn every Halloween, and is scheduled to end at around midnight. Students then process to the cemetery near Healy Hall for the Healy Howl, a tradition that's almost as creepy as that little girl's head turning all the way around.

4. The Foot of Good Luck - Yale University, New Haven, CT.
Although there’s probably a more formal name for it, this tradition involves rubbing the foot of the stature of James Dwight Woolsey, the president of Yale from 1846 to 1871, for good luck. At least, that's what I was told when I took the tour. Naturally, of course, I rubbed the foot, hoping to get into Yale. I later learned that an unwritten "graduation requirement" for Yale students involved peeing on the foot at night. I just don't think telling a high school senior to touch the foot of a statue that everyone's "christened" is a nice thing to do.

5. Spree Day - Clark University, Worcester, MA.
Waking up at my college can mean bright light and a splitting headache. Waking up at Clark University on Spree Day means the party has just begun. On a random day selected by school administrators, classes are spontaneously cancelled and the entire student body celebrates on the Green. The event usually features bands, but has also been known to include elements such as hot air balloons, giant slides, and other trappings conducive to college fun.

6. Graduation Requirements - Duke University, Durham, NC.
There are a number of unofficial graduation requirements at Duke. Here are a few:
1) Climb Baldwin Auditorium. This was easier to do last year, as construction required scaffolding that ran to the top.
2) Gain access to the university steam tunnels. This was similarly easier to do last year, because they boarded them up this year.
3) Drive backwards twice around the East Campus circle. This is as easy to do this year as it was last year.

7. Hello Walk - University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho.
In the 1920s, University President Alfred Upham insisted on greeting everyone on the walk from his house (where the current Campus Christian Center is located) to the Administration Building. He went so far as to make the greeting mandatory. Today, while hellos are no longer obligatory, many choose to continue the tradition of friendliness. Had Holden Caulfield been a real person, and had he attended U of I, he would have been pissed.

8. Fourth Year Fifth - University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA.
Nothing says "college" like being able to consume your own weight in alcohol. Seniors at UVA might not be able to do that, but they can certainly try. My best friend, an undercover Cavalier, informs me that during the last home football game of the season seniors try to drink a fifth of alcohol, which is around 17 shots. With a tradition like that, I don't know if he'll survive to be my friend much longer.

9. Birthday Dunk - Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA.
Everywhere else in the United States, a birthday means a cake and a DVD box set of Planet Earth. At Occidental, however, it means you're thrown into the chilly Oxy Fountain. The best part of the tradition is that birthday students never know when it's coming. You could be dragged out of your bed, or a class. There is only one certainty: you're going in.

10. Seventh Annual Nitrogen Day - Reed College, Portland, OR.
Finally, a college that appreciates the most underrated element as much as I do! At Reed College, Nitrogen, seventh on the periodic table, is celebrated annually with Seventh Annual Nitrogen Day. The tradition involves a daylong festival of free food, entertainment, and a haiku recital. You also get all the free nitrogen you can fit in your pockets.

10 Sweet Facts About Candy Canes

The sweet and striped shepherd’s hooks can be found just about everywhere during the holiday season. It's time you learned a thing or two (or 10) about them.


While the origins of the candy cane are a bit murky, legend has it that they first appeared in hooked form around 1670. Candy sticks themselves were pretty common, but they really took shape when the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany got the bright idea of twisting them to look like shepherd’s hooks. He then handed them out to kids during church services to keep them quiet.


It’s no surprise, then, that it was a German immigrant who introduced the custom to America. The first reference we can find to the tradition stateside is 1847, when August Imgard of Wooster, Ohio, decked his home out with the sugary fare.


Candy canes without the red don’t seem nearly as cheery, do they? But that’s how they were once made: all white. We’re not really sure who or exactly when the scarlet stripe was added, but we do know that images on cards before the 1900s show snow white canes.


Most candy canes are around five inches long, containing only about 50 calories and no fat or cholesterol.


The world’s largest candy cane was built by Geneva, Illinois chef Alain Roby in 2012.  It was 51 feet long, required about 900 pounds of sugar, and was eventually smashed up with a hammer so people could take home a piece.


Fifty-four percent of kids suck on candy canes, compared to the 24 percent who just go right for the big crunch. As you may have been able to guess, of those surveyed, boys were nearly twice as likely to be crunchers.


According to the National Confectioners Association, about 1.2 billion candy canes are made annually, and 90 percent of those are sold between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Which honestly begs the question: Who’s buying the 10 percent in the off season?


Bobs (that’s right; no apostrophe) Candies was the first company to really hang its hat on the sweet, striped hook. Lt. Bob McCormack began making candy canes for his kids in the 1920s, and they were such a hit he decided to start mass-producing them. With the help of his brother-in-law, a Catholic priest named Gregory Harding Keller (and his invention, the Keller Machine), McCormack was eventually able to churn out millions of candy canes a day.


December 26 is National Candy Cane Day. Go figure.


Here’s how they make candy canes at Disneyland—it’s a painstaking (and beautiful) technique.

10 Actors Who Hated Their Own Films

1. Sylvester Stallone, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Sly doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to his film career. Despite co-starring with the delightful Estelle Getty as the titular violence-prone mother, Stallone knows just how bad the film was:

"I made some truly awful movies. Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot was the worst. If you ever want someone to confess to murder, just make him or her sit through that film. They will confess to anything after 15 minutes."

2. Alec Guinness, Star Wars.

By the time he played Obi-Wan Kenobi in 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope, Guinness had already appeared in cinematic classics like The Bridge on the River Kwai, Great Expectations and Lawrence of Arabia. During production, Guinness is reported to have said the following:

"Apart from the money, I regret having embarked on the film. I like them well enough, but it's not an acting job, the dialogue - which is lamentable - keeps being changed and only slightly improved, and I find myself old and out of touch with the young."

The insane amount of fame he won for the role as the wise old Jedi master took him somewhat by surprise and, ultimately, annoyed him. In his autobiography A Positively Final Appearance: A Journal, Guinness recalls a time he encountered an autograph-seeking fan who boasted to him about having watched Star Wars more than 100 times. In response, Guinness agreed to provide the boy an autograph under the condition that he promise never to watch the film again.

3. Bob Hoskins, Super Mario Brothers. He was in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. As far as I’m concerned, Bob Hoskins is forgiven for Super Mario Bros. Hoskins, though, doesn’t seem to be able to forgive himself. Last year the Guardian spoke with the veteran actor about his career and he summed up his feelings rather succinctly:

What is the worst job you've done?
Super Mario Brothers.

What has been your biggest disappointment?
Super Mario Brothers.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
I wouldn't do Super Mario Brothers.

4. George Clooney, Batman & Robin. Sure, Batman & Robin made money. But by every other imaginable measure, the film was a complete failure, and a nightmare to the vast majority of the Caped Crusader’s most fervent fanatics. Star George Clooney recognized what a stinker he helped create and once plainly stated, “I think we might have killed the franchise.”

5. David Cross, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. When actors have a movie out, it's customary that they publicize the film by saying nice things about it. Earlier this year David Cross took a different approach. When it came to describing his new film Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, the veteran comedian — better known for Mr. Show and Arrested Development — went on Conan and called the film a “big commercial for Carnival Cruise Lines” and told people not to go see it.

6. Katherine Heigl, Knocked Up. Judd Apatow’s unplanned pregnancy comedy was a huge hit and helped cement her status as a bankable film actress. After the film’s release, however, Heigl didn’t have all good things to say. In fact, what she specifically said about it was that the film was:

"…A little sexist. It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys.”

7. Charlize Theron, Reindeer Games. The 2000 action film Reindeer Games starred Ben Affleck, Gary Sinese and Charlize Theron and was directed by John Frankenheimer. But it all somehow failed to come together. In the end the film lost a lot of money and compiled a wealth of negative reviews – including one from its star actress who simply said, “Reindeer Games was not a good movie.”

8. Mark Wahlberg, The Happening. Mark Wahlberg doesn’t exactly seem like a guy who lives his life afraid of trees. But that is the odd position M. Night Shyamalan’s 2008 film The Happening put him in. Wahlberg, as it turns out, doesn’t look back too fondly on the film. He went on record during a press conference for The Fighter when he described a conversation with a fellow actor:

"We had actually had the luxury of having lunch before to talk about another movie and it was a bad movie that I did. She dodged the bullet. And then I was still able to … I don’t want to tell you what movie … alright “The Happening.” F*** it. It is what it is. F***ing trees, man. The plants. F*** it. You can’t blame me for not wanting to try to play a science teacher. At least I wasn’t playing a cop or a crook."

9. John Cusack, Better Off Dead. John Cusack reportedly hated his cult 80s comedy so much that he walked out of the screening and later told the film’s director Steve Holland that Better Off Dead was "the worst thing I have ever seen" and he would "never trust you as a director again."

10 Christopher Plummer, The Sound of Music. The Sound of Music is considered a classic and has delighted many generations of fans. But the film's own lead actor, Christopher Plummer, didn't always sing its praises. Mr. Von Trapp himself declined to participate in a 2005 film reunion and, according to one acquaintance, has referred to the film as The Sound of Mucus.



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