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The Most Serene Eco-Republic of Middle Barael

Tomorrow as some of you may know is Purim, which is like Jewish Halloween but with irony and the politics of the ancient Persian royal court.

One prominent tradition is the eating of Hamantaschen (singular Hamantash), which are little triangle-shaped cookies with a filling. Popular fillings include Chocolate, Apricot, Strawberry, Rapberry, and a Poppy-Seed paste called “mun” (Hamantaschen literally means “the mun cookies” in German/Yiddish).

However, for years Hamantaschen have been competing with another popular Jewish holiday dessert.... Latkes.

Latkes, known by most non-Jews as potato pancakes, are little snacks things made of fried potato-shreds and onions, similar to hashbrowns. They are eaten during Hannukah, as their fried nature serves as a reminder the oil that was so important to the story of Hannukah. Though Latkes themselves are quite simple, they are often dipped in something, such as apple sauce, sour cream, or sugar.

Anyways, since 1946, a debate has been raging over which is better. The debate started in 1946 at the Hillel House (those are the small Jewish community centers present on many American college campuses) of the University of Chicago, as a satirical debate. The original satirical debate in 1946 was so loved and funny and popular that every year since, UChicago and other colleges around the country have held the same debate over Hamantaschen and Latkes.

Over the years debates have featured many academics and famous people, including tenured professors, authors, lawyers, deans, essayists, college presidents, philosophers, the former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, three different Nobel Prize laureates, and more. Famous people who have participated include Milton Friedman (a Nobel Prize-winning economist), Alan Dershowitz (the lawyer who defended O.J. Simpson, Mike Tyson, Jeffrey Epstein, Harvey Weinstein, Julian Assange, and Donald Trump), the philosopher Martha Nussbaum, Austin Goolsbee (the former chair of the Council of Economic Advisors), and some would argue that Justice Blackmun of the US Supreme Court took a stance when he mentioned Latkes’ significance in a majority opinion for one of his Supreme Court cases.

Another unique thing about the debate is that it goes beyond why they taste good. Instead, the debaters will often reference the philosophy of Latkes and Hamantaschen, or talk about the economics of Latkes and Hamantaschen, or why Latkes are more environmentally sustainable, or why Hamantaschen can be thought of as a symbol of femininity, or how the oiliness of Latkes shows that they are the King of all Jewish Holiday Desserts, etc. Many will even try to tie in their field, such as by tying in economics or anthropology or gender studies or psychology or philosophy or linguistics into the debate. These different arguments often even lead to satirical conspiracy theories. You can go to the Wikipedia page about the debate to find more examples of crazy arguments and points.

So nations of Forest, which do you side with: Latkes or Hamantaschen?

Me? I’m certainly a Latke guy. Maybe later when I have more time I’ll explain my own crazy hypotheses and reasoning for why the Latke is superior.

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