Matthew Alexander

This story has been updated to reflect the print version published on March 27. 

Tenders turned tofu? In the end, it was just another nugget of fake news.

Hundreds of chicken tender–loving Yale students went into uproar on Monday after waking up to prank signs in dining halls advertising a new meatless, tofu-based recipe for the tenders, a beloved staple of Thursday lunch in the residential college dining halls.

“To call this an early April fool’s day prank is perhaps an accurate way to describe this ad. Whoever is behind it, received a lot of attention!” Senior Director of Yale Dining Adam Millman wrote in an email to the News. “We all know our hand breaded chicken tenders are a favorite among students and has been for many years since its inception. Good news is, this Thursday they will be featured again.”

The signs were designed to mimic those that Yale Dining often places in the dining halls to announce campus wide culinary initiatives.

“Goodbye Chicken. Hello Tofu,” the flyers read. “We’ve changed our recipie [sic] to bring a new spin to this classic Yale tradition. Enjoy delicious tofu tenders, breaded and fried to golden perfection.”

The signs were put up by a junior hoping to join the Pundits, a Yale senior society that specializes in practical jokes and nudity, as part of a recruitment process in which rushees try to win a spot in the group by pulling impressive pranks, according to a current member of the Pundits, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. This year, the member said, the Pundits held an open rush process in which any rising senior could participate. Asked if she ran the Pundits, the member insisted, “I don’t know her,” a reference to a popular meme.

A flurry of posts debating the veracity and implications of the signs spread on social media after one student posted a photograph of the sign on the popular Yale Facebook group “Overheard at Yale,” with the caption “Overseen in Branford dhall: tenderpocalypse.”

On Facebook, student reaction to the prospect of meatless tenders was mixed. Over 700 people reacted to the first photo of the advertisement posted on Facebook by late Monday afternoon, including around 235 likes and more than 360 sad and angry reactions. Some students on Facebook hailed the prospect of meatless chicken tenders as a welcome change for vegetarians and vegans, while others were quick to condemn the idea. One student in the comment section called the tofu tenders “the worst thing I have ever seen.”

A number of memes in the “Yale Memes for Special Snowflake Teens” Facebook group also parodied the negative reactions to the meatless chicken tenders among Yale students.

“We win this one against the vegetarians!” joked Kelsang Dolma ’19, an administrator on the “Yale Memes for Special Snowflake Teens” page. “It was clear that most people were displeased based on the waves of angry and sad reacts, though it was entertaining to see the rapid-fire meme production that came when the rumor spread.”

Although Yale Dining has no plans to serve tofu chicken tenders, last spring it launched the Beyond Burger, a plant-protein–meat-substitute burger designed by the company Beyond Meat to replicate the taste of a real hamburger.

Britton O’Daly |