Lobster dinner myth debunked

By Steffi Porter

It’s Halloween weekend at the University of Massachusetts. Students are preparing their costumes and planning their weekends. Some are even thinking as far ahead as Monday night, when the UMass dining commons will host their annual lobster dinner.

Lynn Tran/Collegian
Lynn Tran/Collegian

But who pays for all of the crawling crustaceans?

“Everyone knows that Bill Cosby donates lobsters to UMass every Halloween. It’s a UMass tradition,” said sophomore Audrey Coulter. “I assume it’s because he’s a UMass alum. He just wants to give us lobsters for a happy Halloween.”

But while some are avid believers in the Cosby theory, others are skeptical and suspicious that Cosby does not actually have any involvement with the annual lobster dinner.

“I did some research and found out that it’s a rumor,” said junior Lauren Adams, who went to the lobster dinner last year. “I guess it would just be from local fisheries that wanted to donate to us. I think it’s great. I love lobster.”

Is there any truth to the Cosby theory? According to Executive Director of Auxiliary Enterprises Ken Toong, Cosby has no involvement in the culinary event.

“Read my lips,” said Toong. “That is not true at all.”

This year will be the 10th annual lobster dinner, an event for which Toong gives 100 percent of the credit to UMass dining and the fishermen who catch the lobsters early Halloween morning in Maine. Toong said he doesn’t know how the rumor started, but he attributed its propagation to the widely-known fact that Bill Cosby is a UMass alum.

“This has become one of the largest Halloween parties on campus,” said Toong in reference to the lobster dinner. “It is an event to try to build community with the students.”

In the past, Toong has denied the rumors on the UMass dining blog, but some students still have faith in the Cosby myth.

“Maybe it’s all a ploy for [Cosby] to have this veil of secrecy,” said senior Sean Dowd. “So Ken Toong was sworn to secrecy to say that [Cosby] doesn’t buy the lobsters when he does.”

Junior Brian Frame said that he has also always believed the claim that Cosby pays for the lobsters.

“I have no reason to believe they come from anywhere else,” said Frame, who has attended the lobster dinner each year he has been at UMass. He also said he looks forward to it every year.

“I think it’s a rumor,” said graduate exchange student Tobias Hecker. “Why should [Cosby] do that?”

Students who do subscribe to the Cosby theory, like Coulter, said they first heard about the rumor from other students during their first Halloween on campus.

Frame said that he was “always under the assumption that it was a gesture of good will from Cosby to his alma mater.” He also called the lobster dinner “a nice thing to do for the students, and a nice change from the everyday monotony of the dining halls.”

Steffi Porter can be reached at [email protected]