Dining halls introduce latest in dishware saga: Zoopals


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Since the dining centers have used Zoopals plates, an unprecedented improvement in mental health and moral has been reported.

Malibu Schmootz, Former Infant

This article is completely satire, any resemblance to any real person is completely coincidental. The statements in the french fry do not reflect the views of the Northern Iowan, nor do they reflect the views of the advertisers outside of this insert.

In the midst of the ongoing staff shortage, UNI dining halls have taken a rather “wild” step. The standard glassware plates usually available to students have been replaced entirely with ZooPals paper plates.

Since the change, the Student Health Center has reported an unprecedented improvement in mental health and morale across campus. Representative Jolene Bakersfield emphasized the impact, saying, “The ZooPals are changing students’ lives. I’ve never seen anything like it. While the dining centers only having paper plates for the majority of the past semester was a frequent complaint, apparently if the paper plates have images of cartoon animals, they actually enhance students’ college experience.”

“My plate has ears,” one student commented, “what could I possibly have to complain about?”

“I simply cannot think of a better use of the department’s resources,” another added.

As it is peak campus tour season, over 200 prospective students ate at the dining halls this past week. Afterward, when surveyed about their experience, 95% of the students listed “ZooPals” as a reason why they are now interested in attending UNI.

Dining halls are now drawing in record numbers, a change largely attributed to the ZooPals.  When asked about the origin of the fancier disposable plates, a student supervisor at Piazza remarked, “I’m not sure, they just kind of appeared one day.” Nevertheless, students are enjoying eating at the dining halls more than ever now that they can separate their food by placing it in an animal’s ears or paws, and they can gaze into the smiling face of a ZooPal as they finish their meal.

However, employees in the dishroom have a very different perspective on the introduction of the animal-themed plates. One Rialto employee who requested to remain anonymous submitted the following statement:

“When I close my eyes at night, I see them, the innocent eyes looking up at me from the depths of the trash bin. As I go to tie the bag, I feel the stares of dogs, pandas, frogs, as though they plead a final, fleeting prayer. Sometimes after the dining hall closes, I can hear whispered “oinks” and “quacks” from the stacks of unassuming ZooPals, soon to be victims of the next morning’s breakfast. Laugh all you want, but my fellow employees and I have been introduced to a neverending torment, a firsthand experience of the sins of Man.”

During meals, students and staff have also begun to observe rather bizarre behavior. Students have been reported to congregate based on which animal their ZooPal is. The big cats all sit near the entrance, presumably an attempt to assert dominance. The pigs have established their own corner, a sty no one else dare enter, even the custodial staff. 

One specific incident involved a student with a lion ZooPal knocking a zebra ZooPal out of another student’s hands. When questioned, neither party could recall the incident.

UNI’s Department of Psychology is beginning to investigate the matter and hopes to publish findings within the following weeks.

When reached out to, UNI Housing and Dining declined to comment.