On Nov. 18, the Fighting Irish dominated the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in the last home game of the season. Traditionally, Notre Dame seniors celebrate their last time in the student section by tossing marshmallows high into the air or throwing them at each other — that is if students can sneak the sticky sweets through security. Some seniors stow the marshmallows away until the end of the third quarter, waiting to turn the sky above the student section into what might look like a flurry of snow to spectators. Others throw them at their friends during halftime to entertain themselves. Some can’t wait past the first quarter, spending all their marshmallows and covering the rows of seats in a sticky coating. But when asked about the origin of this senior tradition, most seniors don’t seem to know the answer.
According to the February 1999 edition of Scholastic, the tradition began during the last home game of 1991, when seniors would throw objects that symbolized the bowl game Notre Dame would be attending that season. That year, the Fighting Irish were going to the Sugar Bowl, so the seniors’ symbol of choice was marshmallows.
However, according to an issue from November 2004, the first marshmallows were thrown during the last home game of the 1969 season to celebrate Notre Dame’s invitation to the Cotton Bowl in 1970. Although this may have been a one-and-done situation.
Somewhere in between the two, The Observer published an anonymous classified advertisement in November 1988: “Hey you boys and girls, darners and domettes, SMiCers and all! Don't forget your MARSHMALLOWS!!!!! Give those sore Lions something soft to sit on ... MARSHMALLOWS!” This was published one day before the final home game of the 1988 season against the Penn State Nittany Lions.
In the second half of the 1990s, marshmallows were not reserved for the final home game. Instead, students began throwing them at every halftime, filling them with pennies and small rocks to give them a more powerful toss. In 1998, the scene changed from a snow globe to an aquarium as seniors tossed around a carp, a squid and a frog at various games in the second half of the season. However, this was short-lived after a few spectators endured various injuries and the stadium increased security measures, including threats to ban students from future games if they were caught tossing any objects.
Even though the marshmallow toss became a hard and fast tradition, Notre Dame security still tries to keep the mallows out of the stadium with thorough security checks and reminders in the week leading up to the senior game. Nevertheless, seniors find a way to smuggle in the plush snacks, whether in their shoes, under layers and coats, or stuffed in socks. Regardless of how or when the tradition began, it does not seem to be leaving anytime soon, so stock up on your Puffs and wear a coat you wouldn’t mind getting stuck to the bleachers.