Five Years Later: Remembering the Val Grilled Chicken Tragedy


THE MUCK-RAKE CENTER, Amherst, MA — Today marks the fifth anniversary of the now infamous “Valentine Grilled Chicken Experiment.” The seemingly innocuous experiment, conducted by Amherst psychology major Wayne Meyers ’09, involved studying the effects on diners when grilled chicken was made unavailable.

The setup was simple: grilled chicken would remain posted on the menu, but the trough would be continuously empty. If asked, Val workers were told to assure diners that the chicken would be ready in “about ten minutes.” However, due to a horrendous series of coincidences, flaws, and overlooked factors, the experiment resulted in perhaps one of the greatest humanitarian tragedies in Valentine Dining Hall history. The Muck-Rake’s team has uncovered the original journal, with complete entries, from the experiment. We post them here today not only as an act of remembrance, but also as a warning to future psychology majors to never tamper with an athlete’s protein.

What follows are the original entries taken verbatim from Wayne Meyers’ journal:

4:30 – Gates open. Obviously, no students yet—not even the elderly dine this early.

4:55 – A couple dozens students have filtered in. A few mild complaints about chicken. Some students wait, but none more than five minutes. Most take deli meat instead.

5:15 – Increased diner flow and increased irritation. Several utterances of “classic Val” and “so fucking stupid,” but most diners don’t really seem to care.

5:34 – Freshman dropped his tray on his way to the front room. Three bean chili everywhere. Hilarious. Unrelated to experiment.

5:46 – Diner volume increasing steadily now. Many diners becoming more indignant. Longer line forming at lighter side. Val workers appear increasingly stressed.

5:58 – Deli meats running low. Val chefs tell me there’s little left in fridge.

6:07 – Sports teams beginning to arrive post-practice. Lighter side line swelling to record length. General unhappiness is palpable. Traditional side (Noodle Bar) is seeing some begrudging traffic.

6:12 – Noodle Bar out of all protein-based toppings. Pizza running low. Deli meats gone. Several patrons becoming enraged. One says loudly, “Are you serious?! This is fucking ridiculous!” Many in the line nod heads in agreement. More athletes are arriving post-practice.

6:18 – All meat-based protein is exhausted. No diced chicken in the salad line. No non-vegetarian toppings left at noodle bar. Line is disintegrating, becoming a crowd. One val worker is crying. Several altercations between members of different sports teams.

6:23 – General disruption and clamor. The entire serving area is packed. Only fragmented words and phrases are distinguishable: “Macros,” “fuck Val,” “protein,” “starving,” “fuck salads,” “out of everything,” “fuck this,” “I hate everything,” etc., alongside various guttural noises.

6:29 – Athletes have coalesced into team-mobs. Most non-athletes have fled. Fighting is breaking out among the teams. Unsure if it’s safe to remain.

6:30 – Val workers have fled. Chaos erupting in serving area. Campus police have been called.

6:31 – Val gates have been closed to contain the violence. Unintentionally creating thunderdome-like effect within serving area. Teams are attacking each other with cutlery and bowls. The track team is attempting to run away, but there is nowhere to run.

6:32 – The lax and tennis teams are in an all-out brawl near the cereal bar. Blood is spattered on the Lucky Charms.

6:33 – The football team is eating the soccer team.

6:34 – Campus police have arrived, but are unsure of what to do.

6:36 – Campus police have decided to let the rioters “wear themselves out.”

6:37 – The football team is eating the hockey team.

6:45 – Violence continues, though some appear to be tiring.

6:58 – Most rioters are either dead or no longer hungry. Bloodshed diminishing.

7:10 – Val gates opened by police. Survivors file out. Some grab dessert (zucchini spice cake).

7:30 – Val gates closed.