Beancounters Win Dining Services 'Pot

How many beans in the jar?

It's an age-old question, right up there with who shot J.R., what's in Al Capone's vault, and where's Jimmy Hoffa.

And the one who comes closest to the correct number wins a prize, courtesy of Harvard Dining Services.

That was the incentive Michael P. Berry, director of Dining Services, offered students in dining halls this week. "We had almost 70 to 80 percent participation," he said. "As part of our Beanpot victory meal, we're glad everyone got caught up in the winning spirit and entered a guess in the contest."

Berry masterminded the contest and provided the accompanying dinner to honor the Beanpot championship garnered last week by the men's hockey team. A winner from each house received a 50-dollar gift certificate from the Coop.


So what makes a good guesser?

Benjamin F. Waltzer '93 guessed 1848 beans to win the Adams House lottery, falling only 22 short of the correct amount.

Was he inspired by the date's historical and revolutionary significance in light of Boston University's despotic hold on Beanpots past? Did he choose his first two digits in honor of team Captain Ted Drury's jersey number? Not exactly.

"Well, using my skills as a master of calculus, I figured out the curve of the bowl, the numbers of beans at the top, and after a quick computation I came pretty close to the correct answer," he said.

Other winners had a little help from fellow guessers. Mary J. Connolly '94 won in Winthrop house with an estimate of 914, but her roommate said she deserved some of the credit. "I really didn't think we could pull it off, but we did such a great job of figuring," said Shataia Brown '94. "I'm so honored to have such a roommate."

The contest also uncovered certain quirky characteristics in some houses.

Janet M. Blazek '93 of Eliot House wondered how her twin sister Joyce won with a guess that was 40 beam off the mark.

I talked to the dining staff," she said, "and it seems that Eliot House is filled with bad guessers some of the engineering students were guessing pot diameters and the like, but I guess they didn't do very well.