Fact Check

Ice Cream Every Day

Does a university serve ice cream at every meal at the request of a benefactor?

Published Apr 21, 1997

Claim:   A university serves ice cream at every meal because a benefactor who donated a large sum of money stipulated that a portion of the funds be used for that purpose.



Thanks, Mrs. Baskin!

usual, this legend is told about a number of different colleges and universities.

Origins:   Although many institutes of higher learning do indeed make ice cream available with every meal (either in a school-run cafeteria or a residence hall dining room), none of them does so specifically because a benefactor stipulated they do so as a

condition of his bestowing money upon the school. This tale tends to circulate in tandem with the "grieving benefactor imposed
a swim test requirement" legend. Both narratives most often mention Eleanor Elkins Widener, who endowed Harvard with millions of dollars and allegedly placed some unusual restrictions on how the money could be spent. According to Harvard, however, ice cream is served there every day not because of a donor's stipulation, but "because most kids like it."

Last updated:   9 June 2011


    Mann, Elizabeth.   "The First Abridged Dictionary of Harvard Myths."

    The Harvard Independent.   9 December 1993   (pp. 10-11).

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

Article Tags