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The Dartmouth
May 21, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

‘My favorite part is eating’: Foco kids serve up their thoughts

Three children of professors — 12-year-old Kallan, 8-year-old Cole and 6-year-old Lang shared their favorite things about Foco.


The Class of 1953 Commons, known colloquially as Foco, is one of Dartmouth’s most traversed destinations. Students have long since shared their thoughts on the College’s largest dining location in The Dartmouth — from so-called Foco hacks to reviews of the dining hall’s playlists — but we don’t often hear from the facility’s littlest customers.

In April 2023, my good friend Eleanor Walsh, a junior at Amherst College and managing features editor of The Amherst Student, interviewed the children of two history professors about Val, the Amherst dining hall. The result, “No Small Potatoes: Val From a Kids-eye View,” is hilariously adorable — go give it a read. So, thank you to Eleanor for inspiring me to explore Foco “from a kids-eye view,” and a huge thanks to my interviewees (and their parents) for their insight.

I sat down with 12-year-old Kallan and 8-year-old Cole — children of sociology professor Janice McCabe — as well as 6-year-old Lang, the son of writing and rhetoric lecturer Erkki Wilho Mackey and former Writing Center assistant director Liz Hand Mackey.

I started by interviewing Kallan and Cole.

Hi! Do you want to begin by introducing yourselves?

KM: I’m Kallan. I’m in seventh grade, and I’m 12.

CM: I’m Cole. I am eight, and I’m in third grade.

I’m super excited to talk to you both about Foco. How often do you eat there? How long have you been going?

KM: Not very often. I mean, reasonably often. Maybe two or three times a month.

JM: They’ve been going since I became the Allen House house professor. I’m starting my seventh year with that, so they’ve been going to Foco for a long time.

When you go to Foco, what do you like to eat?

KM: We don’t usually go there at breakfast, but when we do go there at breakfast, I like the cereal. My favorite is the cookies one.

Do you have a favorite dinner food at Foco?

KM: Pizza and pasta. My favorite is pepperoni.

CM: Cheese is my favorite.

Cole, is your favorite Foco dinner also pizza?

CM: My favorite Foco food is the Italian wedding soup. I like it because there’s a nice balance between meat and vegetables.

Do you have a favorite Foco dessert?

CM: The oreo pie.

KM: The chocolate chip cookies with frozen yogurt. I don’t know where they moved the frozen yogurt to, though. I was also sad because the chocolate isn’t a permanent flavor.

I’m also sad that they don’t have frozen yogurt right now. What do you both normally drink when you go to Foco?

KM: I like the cream soda.

CM: I just concoct a drink because it’s mixed drinks.

What’s in your concoction?

CM: Aha Seltzer and the fruit juice. I forget what it’s called.

KM: Powerade?

CM: Yeah, Powerade. And sometimes Sprite.

When you go to Foco, do you think of it like eating at home or more like eating at a restaurant?

KM: An all-you-can-eat place.

What’s your favorite part about eating at Foco? 

CM: My favorite part is eating.

That’s a really good part. When you go to Foco, where do you normally sit?

KM: The light side, usually.

JM: They like high tops and booths better than the long tables. I think if there’s a circle booth, that’s their absolute favorite.

KM: Yeah, circle booths.

When you go to Foco, do you ever talk to students or employees?

KM: There was this really nice employee that usually works at lunch. She gave us a bunch of stuff, like DVDs.

JM: Her name is Samantha. And you talk to students sometimes too, right? Especially undergraduate advisers that you know a little bit better.

KM: Yeah.

You’ve been going to Foco for a really long time. Is there a food you used to like that you don’t like anymore? Or one you didn’t like that now you’ve come to enjoy?

CM: I used to not like the hotdogs, but now I do. They used to have them in the packages where they were in tin foil, and the hotdog would shrivel up.

JM: You used to have a lot of hamburgers and hotdogs, and we used to go more often. So we had to have a rule that you could only have one hamburger a week and one hotdog a week. You had to have a vegetable.

Do you have a favorite vegetable?

KM: Probably sweet potatoes.

After speaking with the wonderful Kallan and Cole, I sat down with Lang to learn more.

Hi Lang! How old are you?

LM: Six and three-quarters.

I’m excited to talk to you about Foco! How often do you go to Foco?

LM: A lot.

EWM: Maybe once a week — three times a month. Something in that neighborhood. 

Nice! What’s your favorite part of eating at Foco?

LM: When I see all the food.  

That’s the best part. What’s your favorite Foco food?

LM: Chicken tenders.

The Foco chicken tenders are awesome. Do you have a favorite dessert?

LM: Ice cream!

EWM: What do we usually say you have to have if you want to get ice cream?

LM: Well, I like to eat it. 

EWM: That’s okay, but that’s part of the experience, right? So what is it usually? 

LM: Broccoli or green beans.

Do you have a favorite drink?

LM: Lemonade.

LHM: What else do you also sometimes sneak from me?

LM: Um … Diet Coke.

When you go to Foco, do you normally pick out your food all by yourself, or do your parents help you?

LM: I do it all by myself.

How old were you when you started going to Foco?

LM: Two.

You’re a Foco pro. Do you remember some of your earliest experiences at Foco?

LM: No.

EWM: Do you remember one of the things you liked to do when you were that young in the circle booths? You liked to run back and forth around the circle.

What do you like to talk about when you eat dinner?

LM: Dessert and getting a second dinner.

What do you like to get for your second dinner?

LM: I usually like to get everything the same, except instead of chicken fingers, I get pizza.

When you eat at Foco, do you think of it like a restaurant or like eating at home?

LM: Restaurant.

Talking to these kids helped me see Foco from a whole new perspective — and I couldn’t be more grateful. Next time I go to Foco, I’ll be sure to get some chicken tenders, oreo pie and a second dinner.

These interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity and length.