The end of the cosmo: A Dining Commons tradition runs its course

University Park, Pa. -- It’s the end of an era at Penn State -- the chicken cosmo is heading south.

On April 4, all dining commons will be serving the famed chicken cosmo sandwich for the last time. A popular menu item for more than 26 years at Penn State, the cosmo has been a staple at almost all campuses’ dining operations and is a favorite of both students and alumni.

“Students like them. Alumni love them,” Director of Residential Dining Lisa Wandel said. “It reminds them of their college days. I think alumni will be more disappointed than anyone.”

Penn State Food Services sells approximately 600 to 700 cases of cosmo patties a month, or 274,000 cosmos every academic year. However, it’s the chicken vendor that is putting a stop to the cosmo. Pierce Chicken Products said Penn State is the only institution that buys the patties -- a fact that can be attributed to the cosmo’s legend at the University.

To cosmo lovers, the sandwich is more than just chicken and lettuce. For alumni, it’s a tasty tunnel back to their time at Penn State. Whether it was for a late night snack or a quick dinner, the cosmo was always there for them. For some alums, enjoying cosmo sandwiches didn’t stop at graduation.

“We get calls from people coming into town,” Wandel said. “They want to know when and where they can get their cosmos. Some alumni have even organized conferences and asked to have the cosmos put on their event’s menu.”

Wandel said that this summer Food Services will test replacement breaded chicken cutlet products for the fall semester, but “sadly, they won’t be the same thing.”

Behind Creamery ice cream, the chicken cosmo has enjoyed a following like no other campus food item at Penn State. Wandel added that “treating yourself to several chicken cosmos” was featured on a list of the “Top 10 Things to do Before you Graduate.” On the cosmo’s last day (Friday, April 4), special cosmo T-shirts will be given out at the dining commons as door prizes at dining commons.

Through its long history, the cosmo has been a part of thousands of lunches, dinners, and late night snacks. Food Services wants to hear some cosmo stories in their Cosmo Essay and Video Contest. Students and alumni are encouraged to send their favorite cosmo stories (100 words or less) to 111 Redifer Commons, University Park, Pa. 16802 or by April 25, 2008.

Cosmo lovers can also submit a 30 to 60 second video about their favorite cosmo moments. Contestants can post their videos on and send the link to Food Services at For more information on the contest, please visit

The participant with the best story will be awarded his or her very own case of chicken cosmos -- the last of their kind.

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Last Updated March 19, 2009