The Thing To Do: Then and Now


illustration by: Christina Carlson

Brittney Lu

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the UCSD Guardian’s existence, Lifestyle takes a look back on the history of traditions UC San Diego students take pride in. From late night food runs to the classic night out and even on-campus shenanigans, the student lifestyle identity wouldn’t be the same without these iconic classics.

Taco ‘Bout Tradition
While no one knows for certain the true, and legally patented, origins of this practice, most taco enthusiasts trace the first “Taco Tuesday” to 1989. Based in Wisconsin (oddly enough), Mexican food chain Taco John’s curated, perhaps controversially, the phrase and ignited a movement across the nation for $2 tacos, cheap margaritas and the promise of gracing Tuesdays with something to look forward to, all thanks to some innovative marketing coupled with strategic alliteration. San Diegans don’t have to travel far for authentic tacos, and Taco Tuesday has become an iconic rite of passage for a genuine UCSD experience. From Taco Villa on campus, all the way to Tacos El Gordo in Chula Vista, or midway at Fat Fish in Pacific Beach, UCSD has been blessed enough to enjoy a taco or two (or four or five) for more than 20 years.

A Boomin’ Business
Call it what you want — boba, pearl milk tea, bubble tea, beverage from the heavens — the names may change, but the classic boba at the bottom and unbreakable plastic seal at the top combination is here to stay. This Taipei staple, also innovated in the late 1980s, made its way to the U.S. in the ‘90s and settled in our hearts since the early 2000s. Founder of Boba Guys Ben Chin postulates that while this sweet staple “started as a foreign tradition and was eventually absorbed into American food culture,” it has become a cultural broker of sorts, intermixing the Taiwanese and American palates. In San Diego, places like Tea Station offer a more classic sip while places like Square Bar Cafe or ShareTea bring a hybrid flair to specialty drinks centered around boba and bakeries like 85 Degrees pair boba with Taiwanese snacks — like pineapple cakes, fresh taro buns or savory scallion pancakes. No one can deny that boba has become foundational to the UCSD college diet; even TapEx has made a cameo in one of Wong Fu Production’s odes to UCSD.

Undress to Destress
Every finals week, certain traditions take place to break away from pushing the pencil. Some scream for five minutes in exchange for a doughnut, while others strip down and make their way into Geisel Library, running and reclaiming a space that is more commonly known to be one of silence and solitude. Reportedly started in UCLA in 2011, the undie run has become a true University of California tradition and has even made its way into more public streets as a form of protest, fundraising or just displaying general hooligan happiness. Whatever the reason, UCSD has since seen its fair share of granny panties and sports bras to last a lifetime.

A Day at Balboa
Travelling way back to 1868, what is now known as Balboa Park started off as a 1400-acre patch of green called “City Park” by civic officials. With more history behind the architecture and design of this park than Leslie Knope could list off the top of her head, Balboa Park has seen its fair share of renowned patrons and global expositions and is now home to 17 museums, a zoo, a theater and multiple gardens. The urbanist’s delight, the tourist’s must-see and the UCSD student’s first choice in wooing that chemistry class crush, Balboa Park is the intersection of rich culture, open space and the place to play my personal favorite game: “Where are all the free exhibits at?”

Everything’s Coming Up Roses
If you haven’t taken a profile picture or graduation announcement photo here, you’re missing out on a social media must that takes advantage of this floral feast for the eyes. Since the 1920s, what started as a vegetable and flower producer, later known as Frazee Flowers in the 1940s, has become a tourist destination and backdrop to many a ‘gram. Now known as the Carlsbad Flower Fields, these 50 acres boast a variety of colorful ranunculus, poinsettias, orchids and roses. Open only from mid-March to May, the flower fields have been the ultimate picturesque day out for UCSD students, residents and tourists alike for nearly 20 years. So if you’re ever in need of a study break in the height of spring quarter, head to see what is blooming and budding over at Carlsbad.