Dorm Delicacy: Rice Krispy Treats

Food & Beverage

CRAFT: Back to School
When I was in college at UC Davis, the dining commons (or the DC, as we called it) was the center of dorm life. Eating, socializing, making plans to … er, study … it all happened at the DC.
And the food was OK. Decent. Well, I do remember one altercation between the food services manager and me regarding some really old, slimy lettuce at the salad bar. At one point I held up the prison-grade lettuce with tongs and asked her, “Would YOU eat this?” The look on her face said no, but I think she responded with a “yes.” However in general, it was passable. You had your salad bar, greasy hot food under infrared lights, breakfast items … even a stir fry station where you picked ingredients and gave them to a cook who would saute it all up with the sauce of your choice.
But living a year without a real kitchen, I sometimes yearned for things that the DC didn’t have. Homemade things. Among those yearnings was the occasional desire for Rice Krispy Treats.
Here’s the thing about rice krispy treats. They need to be homemade. Yes, pre-packaged ones exist. Have you had them? Their corn syrupy hyper-sweetness makes me cringe, and the krispies are mechanically pressed together, squashing out much of the krispiness. In short, the store-bought version is a completely different, much less satisfying beast.
One magical night at the DC, the stars aligned and I had a vision (I have to qualify this story by saying I’m not usually very creative in the kitchen, and had only ever made rice krispy treats on the stovetop). I grabbed a mug and a handful of marshmallows from their home next to the hot chocolate machine. I got some pats of butter from next to the sliced bread, dropped the marshmallows and butter pats in the mug, and threw the mug into the microwave! The marshmallows puffed up and the butter began to melt.
I pulled the mug out of the nuker, pranced over to the cereal bins, and stirred in some Rice Krispies, my mouth watering from the sweet, heavenly scent of butter and marshmallows. Voila! Delicious dorm-made rice krispy treats!
Although this was by no means a groundbreaking discovery, I like remembering that night, because for me it was a small moment of triumph. One other food mod from the college days was to drop a Jolly Rancher into a Zima to make it taste tangy instead of just plain bad. Do you have any creative food recipes from your college days? Share them in the Comments section below!

28 thoughts on “Dorm Delicacy: Rice Krispy Treats

  1. Amy says:

    I’m also a Davis alum – weren’t the DC’s awful? Blech. Now you’ve made me hungry for rice krispy treats! Great article!

  2. Kathi Derevan says:

    You are so right about the manufactured ones, ew, gross. But you have now set up a not-to-be-denied Rice Krispies Treat craving in me.
    Great improvising!

  3. Jaclyn says:

    Wow! I wish I’d known about this when I was in college! Well, maybe not, freshman 15 might have turned into freshman 50!
    Thanks for sharing, I think I’ll try this single serving trick to keep me from eating the whole batch.

  4. Caroline says:

    Oh man does this bring back memories!!! We called out cafeteria “the caf”. I had one friend who stopped going unless she had to because she said it made her hair smell like “the caf” for days. LOL I used to mix sprite, cranberry juice and milk to make an pretend italian soda. My friends hated it cause if you didn’t drink it fast enough the milk stared separating and looking gross. hahah

  5. Nicole says:

    I see my students making mac-and cheese. They get pasta from the salad bar, sprinkle on some cheese (salad bar) and occasionally some butter and nuke it. It’s not perfect but they like it.

  6. Ann Martin says:

    What a great idea – necessity breeds invention! Ah dorm food… quantity, not necessarily quality. Must say I did have a thing for the chocolate cow though, as we called the milk dispenser.

  7. Adam says:

    Not the most creative, but 1 part chocolate milk + 1 part coffee + 1 packet of sugar = Frappucino.
    Also, chips + salsa + cheese from the salad bar + olives or whatever else from the salad bar = nachos.

  8. sewbean says:

    i also stumbled upon this microwaving technique for rice krispies treats!
    but i liked rolling mine into a ball. it was really fun to eat it this way.
    thanks for sharing and bringing back these nostalgic college food strategies.

  9. Katie says:

    My roommate and I were “creative” in we made whatever was in the house into a meal. One night it was mac and cheese and mashed potatoes from a box, and we rolled them together into a flour tortilla. That was yummy.
    We also discovered you could use food coloring for anything, so we had pink rice, green mashed potatoes, and purple chicken.

  10. june at noon says:

    I realized in a similar moment of inspiration that I could pour myself a soft drink (root beer or cola) and then head to the ice cream station and throw in a few scoops for a float. Super obvious, but I don’t think many others had thought of it either, because every time someone saw me doing it they were like, “Aha!”

  11. Laura Cochrane says:

    Haha… I love seeing all of your inspired ideas and comments! But Katie, I’m totally afraid of your boxed mac n cheese + boxed mashed potatoes rolled into a tortilla. That’s insane starch overload!! I would try the green mashed potatoes though. :)

  12. Anonymous says:

    For vegetarian Rice Krispy Treats you can use Fluff (which is gelatin-free).

  13. leslie says:

    as a vegetarian, the college cafeteria was always a challenge. i could survive for days at the salad bar, but sometimes you need a hot meal (especially in the cold chicago winters). my favorite go-to concoction was to grab some hot pasta noodles from the pasta bar and then race to the salad bar to add an assortment of veggies (peas…yum) and ranch dressing. mixed up it was a sort of spicy alfredo-like pasta dish. it was far more tasty and satisfying than the sad marinara sauce on offer.

  14. Laura Cochrane says:

    One of the ladies at Lowepro, which has an office above the Craftzine office, was talking to me yesterday and shared a dorm meal she used to enjoy: She’d pour hot water over ramen noodles and let them cook a bit. Then she drained the water off, and mixed either butter or whipped cream (…but it’s sweet!!) with the seasoning packet. Sort of a poor man’s fettuccine alfredo.

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