Pennsylvania Punch Bowl

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Pennsylvania Punch Bowl
Pennsylvania Punch Bowl - Fall 2016 cover.png
Editor Tom Nowlan (2016-present)
Editor Jonah Arnheim (2017-present)
Categories Satirical Magazine
Frequency Triannual
Circulation 5,000
Publisher University of Pennsylvania – SAC
First issue 1899
Country United States
Based in Philadelphia
Language English

The Pennsylvania Punch Bowl is a humor magazine published by students at the University of Pennsylvania, founded in 1899.[1]


The Pennsylvania Punch Bowl was founded in 1899 by members of Mask and Wig[2] and the Philomathean Society,[3] making it one of the oldest college humor magazines in the United States. The founders were Daniel Martin Karcher and Edward Burwell Rich.[4]

The magazine was intermittently published during the twentieth century, appearing in only 70 of the 100 years from 1899 to 1999.[5] The magazine is currently printed three to four times a year, coming out each semester and when the new students arrive in the fall.[6] In its earliest days, The Pennsylvania Punch Bowl rivaled the Daily Pennsylvanian, an all-around daily student newspaper, and Red and Blue, which contained a mix of news and literary essays.[7] During this time, Punch Bowl was distributed in local high schools and leading hotels in Philadelphia and in about a dozen other cities on the East Coast.[8] Since its establishment, the Pennsylvania Punch Bowl has termed its members "spoons." In 1930, members were split into "art spoons," "business spoons," and "editorial spoons"; now members are either "little" or "big" spoons depending on their seniority.[9]

In fall 2006, the Pennsylvania Punch Bowl created a new website, which adds new humor pieces every day. In addition to its regular set of student columnists, Punch Bowl features new contributors each Wednesday. Recurring pieces in the magazine and website include "Letter from Amy Gutmann" and "March Madness Voting" [10]

In answer to a question about his advice for the young, University of Pennsylvania alumnus Ezra Pound refers to the Punch Bowl in a 1962 issue of The Paris Review. "In fact the University of Pennsylvania student Punch Bowl used to have as its motto, "Any damn fool can be spontaneous."[11]


Issue Season Year
The Highlights Issue 2017 Winter
The Business Issue 2017 Spring
The 100 Days Issue 2017 Spring
The Election Issue 2016 Fall
The Lifestyle Issue 2016 Spring
The Science Issue 2016 Spring
The 90s Issue 2015 Winter
The NSO Issue 2015 Fall
Arts & Culture Issue 2015 Spring
The Musings Issue 2015 Winter
The NSO Issue 2014 Fall
Food Issue 2014 Spring
Travel Issue 2014 Spring
The Web Issue 2014 Winter
The NSO Issue 2013 Fall
Throughout the Ages 2013 Spring
University of Punch Bowl 2013 Winter
Obama in Landslide 2012 Fall
NSO Issue 2012 Fall
Punch Bowl Jr. 2012 Spring
Just for Her / Just for Him 2012 Winter
Homecoming 2011 Fall
NSO Issue 2011 Fall
Miscellaneous Issue 2011 Spring
Flinguistics 2011 Spring
NSO Issue 2010 Fall
Miscellaneous Issue 2010 Spring
Sorority Rush Issue 2010 Winter
NSO Issue 2009 Fall
Rising Tensions 2009 Spring
The (New!) Great Depression 2009 Winter
The Freshman Number 2008 Fall
Forbidden Love 2008 Spring
The Diversity Issue 2008 Winter
Official Freshman Handbook 2007 Fall
The Jobs Issue 2007 Spring
Throughout the Ages 2007 Winter
Things that Matter 2006 Spring
Cabin Fever 2005 Fall
Leaving the Nest 2005 Fall
Traumatic Childhood 2005 Spring
Survival of the Fittest 2004 Fall
Anatomy of a Freshman 2004 Fall
The Changing of the Guard 2004 Spring
West Philly Gone Wild 2003 Fall
Down with Punch Bowl 2003 Spring
Punch Bowl News & World Report 2002 Fall
Punch Bowl vs. the World 2002 Spring
Punch Bowl Punch-Out!! 2001 Fall


As a satire magazine pushing the envelope of what is deemed fit for publishing, The Pennsylvania Punch Bowl has found itself at the center of some controversies. As Charles A. Wright, a member of the editorial staff in the early 1920s, noted: “Part of our planning for an issue was to pick a title that, combined with the cover drawing, would create a ‘racy’ effect. ... Our jokes dealt mostly with campus subjects, such as freshmen, football, absent-minded professors, and coeds; and current events, including the beginning of Prohibition, the wearing of knickers, and the popularity of a dance called ‘The Toddle.’” [12]

In 1939, ten Punch Bowl editors were suspended for the printing of ribald humor, causing small riots near 37th and Spruce Streets. Some suspect the Penn vs. Cornell football game may also have magnified the mass student disturbances.[13]

The Winter 2008 Issue - "The Racism Diversity Issue" - attracted attention and created a minor debate on campus because of pieces inside that certain student groups saw as unfairly targeting or aiming a disproportionate number of jokes at certain groups.,[14][15] The University's campus newspaper later criticized these student groups for their overreaction to the issue.[16] To assuage the offended parties and poke fun at the ordeal, the Punch Bowl called their Spring 2008 issue "43% less racist." [17]


  • Ezra Pound, American poet who was a major figure in the modernism movement [11]
  • John Valentine Lovitt, an accomplished lawyer who served in the Navy during World War I and as Expert on International Security Affairs during World War II; served as Editor-in-Chief [18]
  • Morton Livingston Schamberg, an American Modernist painter and photographer; served as frequent contributor of illustrations for the magazine [19]
  • Leo Yanoff, judge of the Essex County Superior Court; served on the editorial board [20]