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Welcome to the 2024 Pasta Olympics!

Students fling farfalle, test their pasta palate, and hone their haiku skills to become pasta olympians.


The 2024 Olympics began a few months early for the Italian Club as they kicked off their very first “Pasta Olympics” event. Attendees participated in a taste-testing contest and voted on their favorite pasta haikus, and thanks to a collaboration with the Engineering Club, they also had the chance to build pasta-launching catapults. The Italian Club plans to make this an annual event after seeing its success in bringing together students from all over the campus and providing them the opportunity to bond over a shared love of pasta and Italian culture.

Cole Christensen (Italian ’23), one of the students in charge of the event, said the idea for the Pasta Olympics originated as a food fight and quickly developed into something a little less messy. “We were thinking of some events we could do, something that could be next level,” Christensen says. “We figured, why not make a contest with how far we can launch pasta?”

With the guidance of Associate Professor Mark Colton of the College of Engineering, attendees formed groups of up to five people and constructed a mini catapult to fling dry bowtie pasta into colanders. Participants could use any combination of popsicle sticks, straws, rubber bands, cups, spoons, tape, and toothpicks to make their catapult.

Once groups felt satisfied with their catapult’s effectiveness, they had three attempts to launch the bowtie pasta into colanders both 10 and 20 feet away. Few groups successfully launched their pasta into the colanders, but those who got the most in or came closest received a Ferrero Rocher chocolate bar.

Cambria London (Psychology, Italian ’27) attended the event for one of her Italian classes. Her team’s catapult didn’t succeed in landing the past into either colander, but it did come close. However, London’s favorite part of the event wasn’t the catapult; it was the taste test. The taste test competition required participants to blindfold themselves and try several different brands of pasta to see if they could identify a difference. Christensen says, “Italians always fight over which brand is best, so we were trying to see if Americans could figure out the high level versus the low level.”

Kali Limon (Psychology ’27) and her roommate participated in the competition and were surprised by how difficult it was. “I did study up on my pasta shapes before this, but that’s not what it was,” Limon says. “I drew some shapes, and I wrote the names, but that’s not what we were tested on, so I didn’t do a very good job.”

Limon wasn’t the only one who had a hard time with the competition. Most challengers struggled to tell the difference between anything except shape, although at least one person had a nearly perfect guessing score.

Following the catapult contest and taste-testing competition, participants voted on previously submitted haikus, some written in English and others in Italian. The haikus all centered around pasta, but their overall topics ranged from refrigerated pasta to Italians not eating meatballs with spaghetti.

Christensen is very happy with how the club’s first Pasta Olympics went, and he looks forward to making it a yearly tradition. “It’s the first annual event, and it seems like it’s been a great success,” he says. “Keep an eye out for the second annual event.”

Follow the Department of French & Italian’s Instagram for information on more upcoming events, including the second annual Pasta Olympics.