The Pennsylvania Punch Bowl has been basking in satirical humor almost every year since its founding in 1899. One of the oldest college humor magazines in the United States, it has had its fair share of praise and criticism alike.
Today, the publication is distributed four times a year in popular buildings on Penn’s campus, and its website is updated daily. Back in its earliest days, the magazine circulated not only on campus but in high schools and leading hotels in Philadelphia and in about a dozen other cities on the East Coast.
Charles A. Wright, who served on the publication’s editorial staff in the early 1920s, recalls his experience in a 1975 piece for The Pennsylvania Gazette, “When Punch Bowl Had Some Punch.”
“It was some copies of Punch Bowl that I saw at West Philadelphia High School that made me want to go to Penn,” he wrote.
Wright said of his time with the publication: “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.’”
Today’s editions ring a similar, spicy tune, but its covers aren’t always quite as original. To the right, view a beautifully drawn 1925 holiday edition of Punch Bowl titled “Holly Daze.”
For more information about this and other historical events at Penn, visit the University Archives online.