A frank ode to CPP’s Hot Dog Caper

The smell of fresh hot dogs, the sight of thousands of students and themed decorations and the sounds of people chatting with one another over lively music that’s what people came to expect during the Hot Dog Caper, one of the best events held at Cal Poly Pomona. Unfortunately, it will be missed by the CPP community this year, myself especially, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

For the past 36 years, the Hot Dog Caper gathered over 10,000 CPP students, staff and faculty in University Park for free food and drinks, entertainment, photo opportunities, balloon animals, giveaways and much more.  

(Sharon Wu | The Poly Post)

The Hot Dog Caper never failed to deliver a unique and fun experience for members of the CPP community to gather in the same space and engage in conversations with each other. 

This event marked my first exposure to the CPP community as a first-year student in 2017. Not only did I meet other students, but I also interacted with faculty and staff. It’s not every day that I can speak to an administrator or faculty member through the simple handling of a hot dog and a bag of chips.  

 For the next two years, this event allowed me to share a meaningful experience with my friends by talking about our classes as we waited in line for food and engaging in the activities the event had to offer.  

In all the years I have attended the Hot Dog Caper, the most memorable moment for me was the competition of finding the best spot to sit with the right amount of shade and large enough to accommodate my friends. With the large crowds, I remember scouting the area and finding the perfect spot where my friends and I could eat before lining up to get a balloon animal or enter giveaways. 

One factor that separates the Hot Dog Caper from other events at CPP is the creative themes represented every year.  

Arielle Torrez, marketing development coordinator for CPP Foundation, explained that themes are largely determined through the contributed input from staff and student employees within CPP Foundation and current trends during the year. 

Considering the circus theme in 2017, the 80s theme in 2018 and the outer space theme last year, CPP Foundation thoroughly incorporates the themes to every aspect of the event which includes the custom shirt designs, entertainment, decorations and costumed guests. This allows attendees to enter an environment that embodies the theme. 

As the years pass, the Hot Dog Caper continues to evolve and incorporate new changes every year through collaborating with different organizations on campus.  

For example, when I attended the 2018 Hot Dog Caper, CPP Foundation partnered with the President’s Office to celebrate CPP’s 80th anniversary by providing a large sheet cake for the community to enjoy a slice. Out of the three years that I attended, the memory of this celebration remains with me today from the sight of people crowding the area to grab a slice of cake and calling others to the area too.   

To commemorate the past Hot Dog Caper events, Torrez mentioned that CPP Foundations plans to post throwback images on the @cppdining Instagram account throughout the week, starting on Oct. 5. However, this will not replace the in-person experience of the free food and entering a lively atmosphere with the CPP community.  

Despite the Hot Dog Caper’s cancellation, this event always holds a special place in my heart. It is a shame that new students and members of the CPP are unable to experience the event first-hand this year. Hopefully, the 37th annual Hot Caper is held next year for the CPP community to enjoy after an isolated year of remote learning.  

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