‘Spineless Saller’ and Pillsbury Doughboy appear at 24th annual Midnight Breakfast

Vivian Liang ’26 was “going to go to bed,” when one of her friends talked her into Midnight Breakfast. A tradition since 1999, Midnight Breakfast provides a meal and a break as students scramble to prepare for winter quarter finals in a week commonly known as “dead week.”

It “comes to show how bizarre college can be,” Liang said.

Midnight Breakfast was more even more unusual this year, as several students protested the University’s response to the ongoing Israel-Gaza war at Arrillaga Family Dining Commons.

Protestors carried a cut out that featured President Richard Saller — organizers told The Daily it was intended to express disapproval over limited progress on committments reached between the University and the pro-Palestine Sit-in to Stop Genocide. 

Tuesday Utz M.A. ’24, who acted as “Spineless Saller,” carried around a cutout with Saller’s face and hands covered in blood. Protestors wanted to criticize Saller, who was serving food at Arrillaga, and mark him as “a puppet” more focused on outside donors than students, Utz said.

Utz said that protestors wanted to hold a mirror to Saller and reach students in the crowd. “I wanted students to consider that this is all a puppet show and that the people who are pulling the puppet strings are actively profiting off genocide,” Utz said.

Protestors were asked to leave Arrillaga by University employees.

Utz, who characterized the demonstration as “student art,” said the staff did not provide a reason when they were asked to leave. 

The Daily has reached out to the University for comment.

Richard Saller serves food at a dining hall.
University President Richard Saller serves food to students at Midnight Breakfast. (Photo: CAYDEN GU/The Stanford Daily)

Lakeside’s Midnight Breakfast had a less heavy tone. An inflatable Pillsbury Doughboy danced through the line and into the main room. “I’ve never been a bigger fan of anything in my life,” said Lizzie Tamor ’27, in reference to the inflatable.

Midnight Breakfast was a tradition Tamor admired long before Monday night. “Before I came here, I saw a TikTok about Stanford’s Midnight Breakfast and that made me want to,” attend Stanford, Tamor said.

The overhead lights in both dining rooms were dimmed, with multi-colored strobe lights and a DJ stand near a Lakeside entrance. According to Aden Beyene ’24, “It’s fun, quirky and wacky.” 

Students were creative in the dark — with phone flashlights placed under orange juice cups as makeshift candles. Natalia Armenta ’26 said it created a great atmosphere: ““The vibe is here.”

For Jacqui McLean ’27, who went to Lakeside, she was pleasantly surprised that there were no lines for food. McLean and others praised the food served at various locations.

The menu included pancakes, omelets, fruit, pastries and tater tots. “This is bussin’,”  Janet Reza ’27 said. “Stanford showed off with this Midnight Breakfast.”

Beyond the food, Reza said it’s traditions “like this [that] make me feel like I belong.”

Others like Jasmine Agyepong ’26 agreed. There was a strong sense of camaraderie at the event, Agyepong said. “I noticed some students also dishing out food so it felt like a really good community and good vibe.”

Beyene’s only recommendation? “More dancing, a kitchen floor and a dance floor.”

Following her interview, a flash mob to “Cupid Shuffle” emerged, with a closing performance from the Pillsbury Doughboy.

For most students, the standouts from the night were the food and break from studying.

“Free food is always good,” Kaimana Kau ’27 said. But especially amid week 10, with finals around the corner, Jesus Olivares ’24 and others thought it was the ideal Stanford tradition to release stress.

“Stanford students love food, and food brings a lot of joy,” Miki Yang ’26 said. “I think everybody needs that for Week 10.”

Oriana Riley and Judy Liu contributed reporting.