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The fish may have been fresh, but that doesn't mean students were biting.

Faced with the task of pleasing the often-sophisticated palate of the average Penn student, Dining Services put its faith last month in the small island nation of Iceland to get students excited about eating on campus.

Throughout October, campus dining halls treated student diners to Icelandic seafood, speaker events and even a chance to win a free trip to Reykjavik, Iceland's capital.

The themed promotion was one of several that Penn Dining has organized over the last year and a half, in the hopes of both satisfying current diners and bringing upperclassmen back onto meal plans.

Whether students think it's a gimmick or an appetizing alternative to burgers and fries, they all admit that Penn Dining's getting creative.

When Icelandic USA Inc. first approached the University about the seafood promotion, Penn Dining took the bait.

"We hope to promote the country of Iceland because a lot of people aren't sure where it is and they don't know much about it," Icelandic USA Inc. representative Jim Papadakis said.

Aramark Corp. - which provides the food for Penn's dining halls - is already one of the company's main accounts. Papadakis said Icelandic is reaching out to universities that use Aramark to promote the "wonderful and unique" country, as well as its fish.

Several more themes are planned for the year, Penn Dining spokeswoman Laurie Cousart said, including a partnership with the Muslim Student Association to feature halal meat - which is prepared according to Islamic dietary standards - in celebration of Islam Awareness Week, which is taking place now.

But with some students reporting they were unaware of or confused by these types of promotions, Dining Services is hesitant to call the strategy a success just yet.

In addition to the entire

freshman class, 2,138 upperclassmen are on the meal plan this year - an increase of 64 from the year before.

College freshman Blair Braun, a Penn Dining devotee who eats in a campus dining facility "every day, twice a day," noticed the signs to win a trip to Iceland, but not the fish. She didn't end up entering the contest.

And even for some students who knew about the menu change, the promotion still failed to impress.

College and Wharton freshman Jill Carty said she did notice the fish, but declined to try it, since she didn't know "how exactly it was prepared," and seafood is "one of those sketch foods that can get you in trouble."

Carty added that she and her friends were also unsure of how to enter the trip to Iceland.

"We read the ads," she said, "but we were kind of lost."

If students don't notice special promotions, Cousart said, it could be due in part to the already-diverse menu options. For busy students, it's "hard to be aware of everything that's going on," she said.

Even if the promotions aren't always noticeable, College freshman Jessica Felton said that "anything that's a change from the norm is good, if they mix it up a little bit."

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