As Boston College students trek into Lower for an Addie’s milkshake or late night mozzarella sticks, they will inevitably walk past a desolate and peculiar wooden structure—otherwise known as the Meatball Obsession stand. Despite its enduring existence, the stand is rarely open and easily ignored. The details surrounding this mysterious dining location are difficult to pinpoint: it is not evident when the stand is open, why it exists in the first place, or what really goes on behind its closed doors. The BC community is desperately seeking answers, rumors are proliferating, and the truth is deeply hidden. In the name of journalism, The Gavel decided it was time to uncover the definitive truth behind this infamous Meatball Obsession hut.
When asked for their opinions on Meatball Obsession, students were widely confused by its presence and purpose. Amy Ferreira, CSOM ‘20; Erin Bottino, CSOM ‘20; and Melanie Johnson, MCAS ‘20, all separately shared that they mistook Meatball Obsession for a ticket stand as new freshmen last fall. Hannah Ervey, MCAS ‘20, could not share her thoughts on Meatball Obsession because she “didn’t even know it existed.”
The mystery isn’t contained to the class of 2020. Many of BC’s upperclassmen lack an explanation for this dining location, as well. In an attempt to crack the case, The Gavel asked Keats Ewing, MCAS ‘17, about his experience with Meatball Obsession (or lack thereof).
“I’ve seen it open on Marathon Monday and that’s it,” says Ewing. “Ever since my freshman year I’ve been trying to figure out when it is open and why it exists, but have come to no conclusions about it.”
According to BC Dining’s website, the Meatball Obsession stand is “open seasonally, and as weather permits.” However, this ambiguous description does not appear to have a schedule attached, as the building has remained closed through many sunny and warm days this academic year. Surprisingly, Meatball Obsession was open from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Marathon Monday. On normal school days, however, it is not even listed as a dining location on BC Dining’s Hours of Operation page. Despite its physical presence on Lower Campus, Meatball Obsession virtually ceases to exist many days out of the year.
In a shocking turn of events, further investigation revealed that the elusive concept of Meatball Obsession extends beyond the Heights. In 2015, The Boston Globe wrote an article featuring Meatball Obsession, a company with several locations outside of BC’s campus.
According to the Globe, founder Daniel Mancini sold his meatballs in stores before opening Meatball Obsession. Mancini “started the company in New York, before branching out to Boston College last year [the year prior to the article’s 2015 publication].” Based on Meatball Obsession’s official website, the company currently has two locations in New York, one at BC, and one at Fenway Park, with two Ohio stores coming soon.
To get to the bottom of Meatball Obsession’s role at BC, The Gavel reached out to BC Dining directly. Sean Canny, a manager at Corcoran Commons, shed some light on the topic.
The origin of the hut-like building that hosts Meatball Obsession does not fall far from the initial judgments of the aforementioned freshmen. According to Canny, “The original purpose of the shack was as an information booth; in fact, there is still a campus map on the side of the shack and our staff still uses that map to point visitors who are not familiar with the campus toward their desired destination.”
The site’s function as a dining location is actually relatively new. “The Shack has been selling the Meatball Obsession's meatball in a cup concept for just over three years,” notes Canny. “Before that it was limited more to beverages and snacks.”
As Meatball Obsession is housed in a humble building independent of the major dining halls, its opening is contingent on weather conditions, which explains the lack of activity during the winter months. Says Canny, “The Meatball Obsession Stand, more affectionately known to us as ‘The Shack’, does not have any heat, so we need to wait until after the last frost to turn on the water, which is generally sometime in late March or early April.”
As a result, The Shack’s uncharacteristic Marathon Monday opening comes into play. “Marathon Monday falls right in line with our being able to open The Shack,” adds Canny. “It is such a celebratory atmosphere on campus that day that it just seems appropriate to add to the festivities by adding a BBQ out on the Corcoran Commons patio.”
Operating Meatball Obsession on Marathon Monday also helps BC Dining alleviate the high demand placed on Lower by hungry spectators. Canny explains, “Marathon Monday is also historically our busiest day of the year, so it helps us keep the inside lines shorter for the students who dine with us that day.”
Canny doesn’t deny that Meatball Obsession is rarely open during the academic year. “While school is in session we mostly open The Shack for special occasions such as Marathon Monday,” he tells The Gavel. “We also open it during reunion weekend for the alumni returning to visit the BC campus.”
The Shack is more integral to BC Dining operations during the summer months, when other dining locations are not available. According to Canny, “During the summer, Corcoran Commons is closed for use by athletic camps, so we open the shack as an additional option for students in the summer session or visitors to campus.”
He goes on, “During the summer, not only do we sell meatballs at The Shack but we also run a BBQ grill, much the same as we did on Marathon Monday.”
Meatball Obsession’s summer availability provides a unique opportunity for new students visiting campus. “It is especially popular on Sundays during the summer months as incoming freshmen and transfer students come with their parents for orientation at the First Year Experience,” Canny says.
Ultimately, Meatball Obsession is not fully understood on campus since its role is limited to special events and the summertime—contrary to the regular, fully functioning dining locations. These limited days of operation may be disappointing to students who are only on campus during the academic year or who find themselves craving a meatball between classes. But at the end of the day, while its niche is an unusual and initially confusing one, Meatball Obsession does contribute elements of character, culinary diversity, and intrigue to dining options on the Heights.