Bowdoin’s Dining Service is consistently ranked as one of the top dining services in the country—there’s no denying that it definitely helps to be well-fed when you’re working as tirelessly as the typical Bowdoin student.

Five things to know as you begin your journey with Bowdoin Dining:

1) The timeless question: Moulton or Thorne?

This is a question you will have to answer on your own. The answer may change throughout your time here—it may even vary from one extreme to the next. I don’t want to make blanket generalizations, but I will provide my personal advice and opinions on this very important debate. For breakfast, Moulton is a no-brainer. It gets very busy during rush periods right before class times, but the selection of fruit and yogurt far out-rivals Thorne’s. For the most part, lunch is where the debate begins. Lunch at Moulton gets really busy right before and after classes, but it is also much more centrally located on campus. Though I prefer Moulton’s lunch atmosphere, I am definitely not opposed to Thorne lunch, which should be praised for its every-day offering of hot dogs, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, and grilled-cheese sandwiches. The battle becomes really heated when it comes to choosing a venue for dinner and brunch. It’s not unlikely that this will become a point of contention on your floor when your roommates argue over the online menus showing quesadillas at Thorne and Hungarian mushroom soup at Moulton. Wherever your loyalties lie, my advice is to wander over to the other side occasionally.

2) Brunch is a thing here.

If you took a Bowdoin tour, you may have been confused when you heard that a full meal plan amounted to 19 meals per week instead of 21. This is because on Saturdays and Sundays, breakfast and lunch are combined into one glorious event: brunch. It’s much more than a meal—brunch is a chance to recuperate, decompress, and catch up on the last night’s mayhem. It’s also probably the first place you’ll come to understand just how small Bowdoin is, because chances are, you will see people you may have encountered the night before.

3) The food isn’t going anywhere.

I will be honest and say that during my first year at Bowdoin, I had no self-control when it came to dirt cake, the sundae bar, and Thursday Rice Krispy treats. This over-indulgence resulted in a very real “freshman fifteen” situation. When you find yourself getting overly excited about Tollhouse cookie pie, re- mind yourself that they will have this again in at least two weeks when the menu rotates. I’m not saying don’t eat the cookie pie, but instead of gorging on three pieces today, enjoy one piece and have another in two weeks. It’s not going anywhere.

4) Regarding Special Events and the Bowdoin log:

Dining cranks out impressive meals on a daily basis, but there are three landmark occasions in the fall when dining really shows off its talent: Parent’s Weekend, Thanksgiving dinner, and the holiday dinner. During parent’s weekend, regular meals are amped up to be slightly more sophisticated, including local cheese selections, apple cider, and even mini appetizers. Thanksgiving dinner, which is served at both Moulton and Thorne, is a full course Thanksgiving meal featuring every traditional food imaginable. The holiday meal, served just prior to fall semester exams, comes in at a close second as the best meal of the year. Apart from vamping up its quality during these occasions, dining also goes above and beyond for its catered events. At these events, like your class dinner this week, the “Bowdoin log” is typically served for dessert. The traditional treat is a log-shaped portion of vanilla ice cream covered with chocolate fudge, Oreo cookie crumbs and garnished with the optional almond shavings and strawberry slices.

5) Other Dining terminology:

Bowdoin Express: Convenience store on the lower floor of Smith Union, open 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. during the week and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on the weekends. Come for late night chips and salsa or ice cream (try Maine’s own Dolcelino cookie sandwiches), stay to replenish your stock of basic medications and just-add-water pad thai or brownie mix.

Cafe (upstairs in Smith Union): check the board for daily specials and seasonal drinks, and try the Sunrise Smoothie with a shot of expresso for an afternoon pick-me-up. Opens at 7:30 a.m. on weekdays but closes during the dinner hours, than continues to caffein- ate most nights until midnight.

Jack Magee’s Grill and Pub: Swipe your card for express lunch here 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. during the week, and, with a midnight (Saturday to Wednesday) or 1 a.m. closing time (Thursday and Friday), take advantage of phone pre-or- dering so your buffalo chicken calzone is waiting for you when your late-night study group ends.

Polar Points: As a first year, you begin each semester with 100 “points,” which work as OneCard dollar equivalents in all of the above Bowdoin dining options as well as various vending machines (located in Smith Union, Coles Tower, Stowe Hall, Osher and West, Hawthorne-Longfellow library basement vending cafe, and Farley Field House). Most people run through these quickly and end up restocking OneCard funds online, but it’s all about the pacing- -there’s no rollover if you don’t finish them by the end of the semester.

Super Snack: Come to Thorne Thursday to Saturday nights from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. to eat nachos, cookies, grilled cheese, leftover dinner entrees, and other comfort foods under colorful dimmed lights to a soundtrack of guilty-pleasure sing-a-longs in the background. Swiping in counts as a meal, so budget accordingly.

Pepper Flip: A Bowdoin dining hall social phenomenon. Make a bet to someone (“if I make this pepper flip you have to print an assignment in Webdings / talk in an Australian accent all day / start a Super Snacks dance party”) and flip the pepper shaker. If they accept it and you make it land right-side up, they have one chance to rebut the bet with their own chance to “land” a flip. If they don’t make it, the bet is on. On the other hand, if you land the pepper shaker upside down on the table, the bet is yours instead. Traditionally, you only get one flip per meal (no practice rounds), but the rules vary.

—Erica Berry contributed to this report.