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Campus Foods to Be Thankful For

Much like going grocery shopping, don’t read this on an empty stomach.

Chelsea Rademacher ’13
November 03, 2015
Plaza Burger Photo by Jeff Miller

Madison is one of America’s foodie capitals. Between the craft breweries, artisanal cheeses, and famous farmers’ markets, it’s basically heaven for anyone who loves good food. Even in a city so saturated by deliciousness, there are a few go-to favorites that have stuck throughout the years. We asked Wisconsin alumni to pick the dishes that define Madison, and their responses were enough to get our mouths watering.


Donuts on Regent Street

“We would line up late at night to eat the freshly baked hot donuts. Wonderful!”

Caryn Ernst Bulovsky ‘80

“Upon entering, we were given a small, wax paper sack that held up to a baker's dozen donuts. I found that I could get a dozen down on my way back to my lakeshore residence, with the 13th left over to start the next morning off right.”

Bill Piernot ’77

“You could watch the donut floating by in the oil as they cooked, and buy freshly made donuts that were still warm. My mind remembers, and unfortunately my arteries still remember the latter as well.”

Bob DeBellis ’79


Paisan’s Pizza

“I can still almost smell those delicious aromas and savor the tomato sauce and onions.”

Jan Pollnow ’66

“The Pizza Bella at Paisan’s was to die for and, on poor-student budget, a real indulgence.”

Paul Kitzerow ‘80

“A Garibaldi from Paisan’s defines so many Sunday nights in the dorm. In the early seventies the cost was $1 delivered. What a deal, and it was so good!”

Deb Holden ’73



“Plazaburgers ... no doubt about it.”

John Oros

“Without a doubt, the best thing to eat was a Plazaburger from the Plaza Bar. They always kept the recipe for the creamy topping a secret.”

Heather Elsmo Eldred ’64, MA’65

“No stop at the Plaza is complete with out the obligatory Plazaburger while listening to the bowling balls rolling overhead.”

Pete "Duck" Fowler ’67

“As students at the UW in the late sixties and early seventies, nothing hit the spot like a Plazaburger! We wish we had that recipe for the sauce now.”

Karen Abrams Engman ’72 and Arnold Engman ’72


Babcock Ice Cream

“Of course Babcock ice cream was a special treat.”

Krista Ellis Clumpner ’80, MA’81

“I would typically eat a cone during the day between classes or after class. My favorite flavor: orange custard chocolate chip.”

Linda Leake Davis ’72

“Babcock Hall mint chocolate chip ice cream, even in the dead of winter.”

Marcia Hamilton ’74

“Two-scoop strawberry sundae from Babcock Hall. When we went to college at the UW, we could have ice cream for lunch for two at the whopping cost of $1.04.”

Glenda Wilson ’75


Memorial Union’s Fudge Bottom Pie

“Fudge bottom pie at the Union! Most Sunday nights I ate at the Rat to finish off my piece.”

George Affeldt, Jr. ’68

“I would never have survived without fudge bottom pie from the Memorial Union ... mood altering, tranquilizing, and undoubtedly nutritious!”

Lynn Jindra Gadzinski ’63

“Wisconsin Union fudge bottom pie is the dish of choice. The sweet end to any meal, maybe with a scoop of Babcock Hall vanilla ice cream on top. Gave us strength to face the cold walk home. Great to know it is still on the menu nearly 40 years after leaving school!”

Jim Charne ’72

Bonus: Ask HQ has the recipe to make your own fudge bottom pie! Let us know how it goes.

What campus-area food defines your Wisconsin experience? Share your stories with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @WisAlumni.

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