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How Did The Alferd Packer Restaurant Get its Name?

Most universities would name halls, buildings, or other onsite places after people who contributed to the university’s history. But this was not the case for the University of Colorado’s dining hall. Let’s find out why the students decided to name their cafeteria Alferd Packer.

Students of the University of Colorado voted to name their dining hall Alferd Packer Restaurant and Grill in 1967. Packer was the state’s infamous cannibal. They had the slogan “Have a friend for lunch!” as a running joke.

Alferd Packer Restaurant and Grill

In 1967, the University of Colorado started the construction of its dining hall. The university surveyed what it would name the new dining hall, and its correspondents were the students then. The students’ morbid humor then came into play when they chose Alfred G. Packer Memorial Grill. The students even chose a slogan for the dining hall, Have a friend for lunch!

In 2010, the dining hall was revamped by ArtHouse Design. This branding studio redesigned the cafeteria by incorporating visuals and items reminiscent of the generation of the said cannibal. Photos of the cannibal and his journey to Colorado fill the walls and menus of the restaurant. (Source: Art House Denver)

Today, students of the university are not aware that their beloved restaurant was named after a cannibal. (Source: Roadside America)

The Colorado Cannibal

Alfred Griner Packer was born on January 21, 1842, in Pennsylvania. Packer was a shoe-maker by trade but enlisted into the Civil War in 1862. He was discharged due to his epilepsy but re-enlisted in the Iowa regiment months after, only to be discharged again for the same reason.

Packer soon found himself in Utah when he decided to join the gold rush. In 1873, he became a guide for those also looking to find gold in the region. In the same year, he was hired to guide a group of twenty-one men who were trying their luck to find gold in the fields of Breckenridge, Colorado.

Winter fell upon their expedition, and after three months, they reached the camp of Indian Chief Ouray. Packer and five other men decided to continue their journey, despite the chief’s recommendation to wait for the weather condition to improve. The group left the camp in the early days of February 1874.

The weather improved, and by April 16, 1874, Packer reached the Los Piños Indian Agency alone. Even though Packer endured terrible weather in the wilderness for almost three months, he emerged as someone who did survive the harshness of the cold but was otherwise fit.

Packer soon developed a habit of drinking, often highlighting his wealth. The people grew curious about Packer’s new wealth and noticed that he had some of the missing men’s possessions. When asked about how the five other men went missing, Packer told conflicting accounts.

As suspicion grew, a local Indian agent, General Charles Adams, interrogated Packer about the events that transpired when the small group left Chief Ouray’s camp. Packer signed his confession on May 8, 1874, detailing what had happened during their travels. Alfred Griner Packer was born on January 21, 1842, in Pennsylvania. Packer was a shoe-maker by trade but enlisted into the Civil War in 1862. He was discharged due to his epilepsy but re-enlisted in the Iowa regiment months after, only to be discharged again for the same reason. (Source: Littleton)

The first version of his confession chronicles what happened to the six-man expedition. Packer claims that Swan, the eldest of the group, passed away first. Upon his passing, the group decided to eat his corpse to endure the cold. After four or five days, Humphreys succumbed to the cold. His corpse was treated similarly to Swan. Miller was killed after a few days, and the two others told Packer that they ate Miller. Afterward, Bell shot Noon. And when Bell was about to kill Packer, Bell broke his gun, allowing Packer to kill him first.

Different versions of Packer’s confession came up, leading the public to think that Packer’s original plan was to lure the five men into killing, cannibalizing, and stealing from them.

Packer escaped from jail in August 1874. (Source: The Denver Channel)

How was Packer caught?

In March 1883, a French peddler who was part of the original twenty-one-man expedition recognized Packer’s voice and laughter in a saloon in Fort Fetterman, Wyoming. At the time, Packer assumed the identity of a John Schwartze and was working as a rancher and continued to be a gold prospector.

Packer was promptly arrested and returned to Colorado and, on April 13, 1883, was found guilty. His crimes were punishable by death. Packer was hanged on May 19, 1883. (Source: The Denver Channel)

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