We all know about the cultural phenomenons that are beloved by K-State community: Wildcat athletics, Aggieville eateries and beautiful outdoor spaces. But are some of these places and experiences worth the hype they receive? I set out to experience these Manhattan staples (with some things, for the first time) with friends to discuss the hype. Are Taco Lucha’s raspberry bean dip, K-State football games and Pillsbury Crossing nostalgia-worthy after you graduate?
Discover MHK with Dené is a weekly radio segment on Wildcat 91.9 in which host Dené Dryden shares stories from the Manhattan, Kansas area featuring local events, organizations, entrepreneurs, and cultures specific to the Flint Hills region. New episodes air on Fridays during the noon hour on 91.9 FM.
Listen to the episode here:
Part Two will air on August 16.
This story was produced in coordination with the Kansas State Collegian. Read the latest news and commentary from K-State students through our independent newspaper at kstatecollegian.com.
Questions? Comments? Contact the host at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Olivia Bergmeier: Glad I wore my Chacos. But yeah, see how kind of clear it is — it’s murky because of the rain, but the top is clear, you can see through it. Yeah, that’s why everyone swims here. That’s gorgeous.
Dené Dryden (over upbeat music): One thing that I’ve learned here at K-State is that there are certain traditions and places and foods you should try before leaving the university. A lot of these Manhattan staples are hyped up to the point that they’re synonymous with K-State culture. Seeing the Wildcats play football. Going to get raspberry chipotle bean dip. And spending time on the water at Pillsbury Crossing. This week, in collaboration with Wildcat 91.9 and the Collegian, I set out to experience some of K-State’s most hyped-up activities — some for the first time — to see if they live up to the hype. This is Discover MHK with Dené.
Dryden: Let’s start with Pillsbury Crossing. It’s a wildlife area East of Manhattan with a shallow stream flow that, in periods of low water, you can cross in your car. There’s a small waterfall and a calmer, deeper wading area where people can fish. I went out there one evening with former Collegian photo editor Olivia Bergmeier.
Dryden: We’re heading out to Pillsbury Crossing — my first time going out here, so I’m going out with a veteran, Olivia Bergmeier.
Bergmeier: The whole one time I’ve been here.
Dryden: Pillsbury Crossing gets quite a bit of hype for just being a beautiful spot, which the drive out here has been really beautiful. We’ll see if this, if Pillsbury Crossing is worth the hype. Oh, I see how — I see now how you could drive through it. I see a rope.
Bergmeier: Nope, not only that: The water is super clean. Well, not right now because it just rained, but like when I was here the other day, this water was blue. Like, actually blue.
Dryden: I’ve definitely seen in pictures where it looks really, really crisp and really clear.
Bergmeier: Like that drone photo I got? Yeah, that’s what it looked like that day I was here. But this is so much clearer than most Kansas rivers.
Dryden: So if I ask you if Pillsbury Crossing, as like a venue to come enjoy the sights.
Bergmeier: Oh, it’s gorgeous.
Dryden: Is it worth the hype, though?
Bergmeier: I mean honestly, I was pleasantly surprised. I thought it was going to be like this grand, amazing — so I went to Jamaica once and there was this place called the Blue Hole, and that’s kind of how I was envisioning in my head, it was like these waterfalls and it was gorgeous. But I was still really pleasantly surprised because you can take your kids here and let them step in the water and have fun.
Dryden: What is on the other — do you know what is on the other side?
Dryden: No? (Laughter)
Bergmeier: I’ve never driven around; I didn’t want to.
Dryden: On the other side are secrets. (pause) I’m going to say: I think this is really gorgeous. Since I’m not a party person, I’d never come down here with like, 30 of my best friends and swing off the rope swing, but I think Pillsbury Crossing is worth the hype.
Dryden (over music): Visiting Pillsbury Crossing, I agree now, is a K-State bucket list item with its gorgeous scenery and opportunity for a little barefoot wading.
Dryden: On our list of things that may or may not be worth the hype in Manhattan would be So Long Saloon/Taco Lucha/the raspberry bean dip is the key thing. I’m with Kyle Hampel, my best friend.
Kyle Hampel: At this point I hope I’m more than your best friend.
Dryden: OK, yeah, we’re dating, and in our seven collective years in Manhattan, neither of us have visited So Long or Taco Lucha. I know just from looking at peoples’ Instagram and Twitter — people, when they’re not in Manhattan, really miss both of these restaurants.
Dryden (voiceover): We went to Taco Lucha on a busy Sunday, placed our appetizer order, and when our bean dip arrived, it was a sight to behold.
Hampel (over busy restaurant background noise): This is what people fall head over heels for? It looks like organs from a demonic entity.
Dryden: So we’ve got a bunch of black beans, we’ve got cheesy stuff, raspberry stuff.
Hampel: Oh my god, is this edible? That is the weirdest combination of flavors I have ever put into my mouth.
Dryden: It is.
Hampel: I actually don’t think I like this. For starters, they’re using black beans instead of refried beans, which is already an offense on me and my house. And just how cheese and raspberry — that’s like putting peanut butter on a hot dog. It just doesn’t work for me.
Dryden: So are you saying the bean dip is not worth the hype?
Hampel: That’s exactly what I’m saying. At least the chips are good.
Dryden (voiceover): After the rest of our meal and back at our car, we came to our conclusion.
Dryden (over car background noise): Yeah, I think our verdict on this one is the bean dip is not worth the hype, unless you really, really like black beans. That was our big hangup with it, was that neither of us really like black beans. While we overall liked our meals, there was nothing really crazy about it, like I don’t feel compelled to go back. So we’re going to call it not worth the hype.
Dryden (over music): The last thing on my list for part one I couldn’t actually go and experience again because the first home football game for the Wildcats is August 31st. So I sat down and talked to my friend Paige Kyle, who’s a member of the K-State marching band. (pause) So what do you play?
Paige Kyle: I play mellophone; it’s a marching French horn.
Dryden: So you’re going into your senior year, and so you’re going into your fourth year in the band?
Dryden: You kind of have a different perspective than the average student of what gameday looks like. For you, what’s kind of the big highlight of game days?
Kyle: I think the very first Wabash, especially the entire season — the first Wabash of the first game, before pregame in front of the student section is definitely my favorite moment, maybe of the entire season. It’s just so much fun, and the students and the band definitely play off of each other and just like, we’re all really pumped, and that’s definitely one of my favorite moments. Personally, I’m not a huge of football in general, so the game itself isn’t super interesting for me, but that doesn’t matter when you’re surrounded by 400 band people who are going crazy for it, you know. It’s just the atmosphere that’s a cool, fun part. Sometimes if the opposing team is rude, it can be kind of tough, but we’re definitely told, like, don’t engage, don’t — just stay away. That can be hard, too.
Dryden: K-State football gets a lot of hype, and it obviously transcends beyond just watching the actual sport. It’s the band, it’s the atmosphere, it’s the people around you, it’s that whole game day experience. Do you think K-State football games, especially home games, do you think it deserves the hype?
Kyle: Yes. Yes, for sure, Yeah, I don’t think there’s any way around it. There’s like 50,000 people in that stadium, and it’s just so fun and we’re all hyped together.
Dryden: Everyone’s K-State experience is different, but in the activities and experiences that overlap, which ones are worth the time and the money? Are bean dip, Pillsbury Crossing, and football games worth the hype? For two out of the three, we say yes. Is It Worth the Hype Part Two is coming next week. For now, this has been Discover MHK with Dene for Wildcat 91.9.