Ask Abe: The Onion

An alum

What was the first lead story in the Onion?

Abe

The Onion, a satirical news source, has UW roots — and its first story, released on August 29, 1988, taps into some interesting Madison lore. The front-page headline of the issue is “Mendota Monster Mauls Madison,” which includes a grainy image of a Loch Nessian creature taking a dip in Lake Mendota. The “Mendota Monster” refers to multiple sightings of a serpentine creature during the early 1900s. Descriptions have ranged from a dragon to a 10-to-20-foot-long beast with black scales and a dogfish head to a creature with a large snake-like head, large jaws, and blazing eyes. Anglers, swimmers, and sunbathers alike have reported run-ins with the creature over the years. Some describe it as a terrifying monster, and others as a prankster “overturning canoes and piers, chasing sailboats, and scaring swimmers.” Regardless, summer on the Terrace is too fun to miss, and maybe the Mendota monster likes a good open mic as much as UW students do.