Wow, the way Webster 1913 describes it, it doesn’t sound too appetizing. I guess the guys at Harvard have their own way of thinking…

What image comes to your mind when you think of Harvard University? For me, it’s the image of future Senators, statesmen, leaders, Nobel Prize winners and many, many other folks who can either afford the tuition or that aspire to some kind of greatness. I certainly don’t picture a bunch of guys in drag putting on full-blown burlesque shows…

The year is 1795 a group of Harvard students gather together under the cover of night to form a new secret campus society. The society is formed in order to “cultivate the social affections and cherish the feelings of friendship and patriotism.” The society’s charter mandates that each of the members will be listed in alphabetical order and that they will be required to bring a pot of hasty pudding for every meeting for the others to share. A tradition, of sorts, was born…

In the early years, the Hasty Pudding club started out by conducting mock trials of certain members of the secret society. Most of them centered on such simple matters as a club members “rowdiness” or other actions deemed unworthy of a members conduct. They proved popular and were soon incorporated into each meeting. The mock trial format was soon expanded to include events of the day and events that occurred throughout history. Soon after, the trials took on a new form and the university officials were now subject to the judgment of the court. In fact, the entire administration was called on the carpet for “compelling the whole body of students to pursue the dry, repulsive…study of mathematics.”

As the years passed, the trials began to become more elaborate. The use of stages, costumes and scripts lent an air of authenticity to the proceedings. All of that changed in 1844 when instead of doing the annual mock trial, an opera by the name of Bombastes Furioso was performed. According to The Dictionary of Phrase and Fable the term means “One who talks big and uses long sesquipedalian words; the ideal of bombast. He is the hero of a burlesque opera so called, by William Barnes Rhodes.” A new tradition was born…

During the next couple of years, the productions usually took on the form of adaptations of professional shows that were being performed throughout the country. The audience was limited to either present day or past members of the club. As the years progressed, Hasty Pudding began staging shows that were exclusively written by the students. They soon became extremely popular and the audience was expanded to include the general public. Harvard then granted the group theater space and the productions began to get even more elaborate. Perhaps the crowning moment came in 1882 when Hasty Pudding staged a burlesque version of Dido and Aeneas. It became an instant hit and the club was asked to perform it on stages in New York City and Philadelphia. With the proceeds from the tour, the club was able to build their own clubhouse and set their goals even higher.

Early members of Hasty Pudding would probably have trouble recognizing today’s version of the productions. Theater experts from around the country are often called in for their advice and guidance in every aspect of the annual production. One tradition hasn’t changed though. All of the female roles are still portrayed by men in over the top drag costumes. Women however, are allowed to participate in other aspects of the show. The shows also seem to have taken on a more sarcastic tone as evidenced by the titles over the last 20 years or so…

2001-Fangs for the Memories
2000-The Jewel of Denial
1999- I Get No Kick From Campaign
1998- Paradise Lost-and-Found
1997- Me and My Galaxy
1996- Morocco 'Round the Clock
1995- A Tsar is Born
1994- A Forum Affair
1993- Romancing the Throne
1992- Up Your Ante
1991- Safari So goodi
1990- Suede Expectations
1989- Whiskey Business
1988- Saint Misbehavin'
1987- Bye Bye Verdi
1986- Between the Sheiks
1985- Witch and Famous
1984- Jungle Belles
1983- Of Mines and Men
1982- Sealed with a Quiche

Starting in 1967, Hasty Pudding also started dishing out a Man and Woman of the Year award. So far, here are the winners…

2003 Anjelica Huston and Martin Scorsese
2002 Sarah Jessica Parker and Bruce Willis
2001 Drew Barrymore and Anthony Hopkins
2000 Jamie Lee Curtis and Billy Crystal
1999 Goldie Hawn and Samuel L. Jackson
1998 Sigourney Weaver and Kevin Kline
1997 Julia Roberts and Mel Gibson
1996 Susan Sarandon and Harrison Ford
1995 Michelle Pfeiffer and Tom Hanks
1994 Meg Ryan and Tom Cruise
1993 Whoopi Goldberg and Chevy Chase
1992 Jodie Foster and Michael Douglas
1991 Diane Keaton and Clint Eastwood
1990 Glenn Close and Kevin Costner
1989 Kathleen Turner and Robin Williams
1988 Lucille Ball and Steve Martin
1987 Bernadette Peters and Mikhail Baryshnikov
1986 Sally Field and Sylvester Stallone
1985 Cher and Bill Murray
1984 Joan Rivers and Sean Connery
1983 Julie Andrews and Steven Spielberg
1982 Ella Fitzgerald and James Cagney
1981 Mary Tyler Moore and John Travolta
1980 Meryl Streep and Alan Alda
1979 Candice Bergen and Robert De Niro
1978 Beverly Sills and Richard Dreyfuss
1977 Elizabeth Taylor and Johnny Carson
1976 Bette Midler and Robert Blake
1975 Valerie Harper and Warren Beatty
1974 Faye Dunawayand Peter Falk
1973 Liza Minnelli and Jack Lemmon
1972 Ruby Keeler and Dustin Hoffman
1971 Carol Channing and James Stewart
1970 Dionne Warwick and Robert Redford
1969 Carol Burnett and Bill Cosby
1968 Angela Lansbury and Paul Newman
1967 Lauren Bacall and Bob Hope


Has"ty pud"ding (?).


A thick batter pudding made of Indian meal stirred into boiling water; mush.

[U. S.]


A batter or pudding made of flour or oatmeal, stirred into boiling water or milk.



© Webster 1913.

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