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October 16, 2007
The sounds of sizzling grilled cheese sandwiches frying on a pan and the crackling sounds of chicken fingers being dipped into scalding oil fill the D-C Store kitchen.
An employee dressed in a chef's hat, white double-breasted jacket and checkered pants franticly reads the receipts and yells like she owns the place: "Order 66, order 67."
After the yell is received from the other side of the room, a hungry student approaches the counter and grabs his entre of fries and a teenage finger-food favorite: chicken fingers -- they're a best seller.
When presented, the divine combination of five succulent, flaky chicken fingers with lightly fried-to-perfection french fries is carefully arranged on a durable paper plate. Plus, the customer also gets a small fountain drink with the combo deal. It costs one meal swipe or about $8.50 depending on how students pay.
The D-C Store, located at the bottom of Argenta Hall, also carries grocery goods that can be found at local convenience stores including drinks, candy and frozen foods. But in the land of the hungry, the deep fryer is king.
Once a new student takes a bite into the crumbling crust of a D-C Store chicken finger, he or she has truly been initiated into the college life. Without parents watching newcomers' every step, the fried foods tends to become another tier of the college student food pyramid.
If students find themselves addicted to the fried delicacies, they shouldn't expect to remain anonymous. As D-C Store employees swipe ID cards, they learn the names of the regulars. Many of the employees are on a first-name basis with their fried food junkies. Those students they don't know, the cooks and cashiers try to get to know through conversation.
"It's fun to engage in conversations and meet different people," said Randy Landingham, a 24-year-old fry cook about greeting students late at night.
Landingham is more of the behind-the-scenes cook. He prefers to stay out of sight, electing not to use the side hamburger grill as much as the other employees.
He fries the chicken fingers and the grilled cheese sandwiches in the back, then gently places pepperoni on pizzas before placing them in a large oven.
Landingham first came to campus as a football player, but now he just enjoys working and socializing with the college crowd.
Alicia Gey, a 21-year-old cook and cashier at the D-C store is one of the employees that are currently taking classes at the University.
She said she enjoys the rush of having a full house in the evenings and that the atmosphere wouldn't be the same if students didn't arrive in packs at the store.
With the store open until 1 a.m. on weekdays and 12 a.m. on weekends, night-owl students not only have a selection of choice munchies, they also have a social place to call their own.