About every college town has a place like this… one that’s open all night, easy to get to and has delicious food. Add those all up, and you have the most optimal place to go post-shenanigans. In College Park, that place is Marathon Deli.

This episode, we bring you a night spent at Marathon Deli. From 9 p.m. well into the wee hours of the night, Offbeat reporters talked to the hungry people of College Park.

Plus, later in the show, Offbeat’s Kimi Fleming tries to answer the most important question about the deli’s iconic ‘Marathon sauce.’

You can also find us on Spotify and Apple Podcasts. A full transcript of this month’s episode is below.

Offbeat: Lost in the (Marathon) Sauce


ROSA PYO: Okay, so what do you think is in Marathon sauce?
MATTHEW BIGELOW: I think it’s a combination between heaven and good times.


ROSA: About every college town has a place like this…


ROSA: One that’s open all night, easy to get to and has delicious food. Add those all up, and you have the most optimal place to go post-shenanigans. In College Park, that place is Marathon Deli.

Welcome to Offbeat, a podcast about the divinely weird and lovingly strange at the University of Maryland. I’m your host, Rosa Pyo.

This episode, we bring you a night spent at Marathon Deli. From 9 p.m. well into the wee hours of the night, Offbeat reporters talked to the hungry people of College Park.


ROSA: Plus, later in the show, Offbeat’s Kimi Fleming tries to answer the most important question about the deli’s iconic ‘Marathon sauce.’


ROSA: One of the first things you might notice when you walk inside Marathon Deli is how loud it is. The people, the music, the cashier yelling numbers for pick up. There are Greek flags everywhere and Terp memorabilia where there isn’t. All you can smell are fries.

Oh yeah, there is one big thing we forgot to mention when we booked our stay at Marathon Deli that night. Taylor Swift’s re-recorded album, Red (Taylor’s Version), was coming out at midnight. And like all places, Blondie has College Park in her grip.

About an hour before the release, Marathon Deli is busy as ever when two girls walk in listening to the leaked version of Taylor Swift’s 10-minute version of “All Too Well.”

SIMMY AULAKH: Okay, so basically what happened is we decided to go out to bars, we got to C-Stone, we hung out there for a while. Boring. I was listening to Taylor Swift in Airpods … Basically, we were leaving the bars to get Chi Phi -laughs- to go to Chi Phi

REMY LICHTMAN: And our Canadian friend.

SIMMY: And our Canadian friend is in town, so she went to Chi Phi, but I haven’t eaten, so I was like, Marathon over Pizza Kingdom.

REMY: Obviously, obviously you need a sub in your life, you know what I mean?

ROSA: That’s Remy Lichtman, a sophomore Towson student with her friend Simmy Aulakh, a UMD sophomore.

SIMMY: So we came here. And so now, we’re going to go to Chi Phi, and then I’m going to go back to Oakland to my friend’s dorm, and I’m going to cry to Taylor Swift.

ROSA: Simmy is such a devoted fan that she …

SIMMY: I brought my Airpods so that I could listen to this while I’m at bars and while I’m at frats, so I’m going to be, like, in the bathroom crying.

REMY: It’s true. She will. 100 percent. She’s the biggest Swiftie I know, like I’m not kidding.

ROSA: It was a big night for Taylor Swift fans. One Swiftie was even invited behind the counter to play the album after it was released. Freshman criminal justice and criminology major Olivia Pineau was fiending to play the 10-minute version of “All Too Well.”

OLIVIA PINEAU’S FRIEND #1: She’s playing Taylor Swift’s Red album.

OLIVIA PINEAU: I’m trying to play Taylor Swift’s new album for you all.
It’s not turning up. Search ‘Taylor Swift.’

OLIVIA PINEAU’S FRIEND #2 + #3: Olivia’s all over it.


OLIVIA PINEAU’S FRIEND #1: This is so fucking funny.

ROSA: But the tragedy strikes when Olivia is unable to cue up the album and tries another solution.

OLIVIA: I have it on my phone.

OLIVIA PINEAU’S FRIEND #1: Olivia, please.

OLIVIA: Can I connect my phone for you?

ROSA: This does not pan out and thus to the defeated sound of maximum volume Red-era Taylor Swift on an iPhone, her friends roar the obvious.

OLIVIA PINEAU’S FRIEND #2: Look at all these people that want french fries.


OLIVIA PINEAU’S FRIEND #2 + #3: You’re holding up the line

OLIVIA PINEAU’S FRIEND #1: Olivia, girl.

OLIVIA PINEAU’S FRIEND #2: Olivia, you’re holding up the line. Come on.

ROSA: And so, Olivia went to the side and waited for her fries, hoping Marathon Deli’s Red era would come soon. The churn of a night at Marathon continues.

ROSA: So, you guys are both wearing like flannel, and I saw a bunch of other people in flannel, what’s up with that?

GRACE COLIN: We went to an orchard, there was a hayride, bonfires. We were promised an apple, but we never got it. So yeah, that’s what happened tonight. And now we’re back here.

ROSA: That’s Grace Colin, a sophomore economics major who is with Jack Faucett, a sophomore majoring in accounting and finance.

ROSA: When was the first time you guys, like, came here?

GRACE: I don’t remember the first time. It was my freshman year, though. I came here and I ordered the fries because everyone was like, ‘Oh my god, it’ll change your life.’ And I was like, ‘OK, like, literally, it’ll change your life.’ So I was like, OK, I have to go try. … And then I came here, and it changed my life. So I guess everyone was right.

ROSA: However, not everyone feels the same.

JACK FAUCETT: I just come here when it’s late at night, and it’s the only place open. Otherwise, I’d go to Chipotle or somewhere else … Honestly, I feel like the fries or — yeah, I’m gonna, I’m gonna, I’m gonna stop there.

ROSA: Marathon fries are a plate of fries drizzled in a delicious white sauce infamously called Marathon sauce. The ingredients of this sauce are unknown despite multiple Reddit thread speculations.

Later in the show, Offbeat’s Kimi Fleming tries to answer the most important question about the deli’s iconic ‘Marathon sauce.’

Amelia Jarecke interviews the sauce boss: Marathon Deli manager and owner, George Soldatos.

AMELIA JARECKE: A native of Greece, George has been in the U.S. for 30 years. Since taking ownership of Marathon Deli 6 years ago, he has really bonded with the College Park community.

GEORGE SOLDATOS: The new generation, you have the stamina, so hard work, all the location around here, and everybody loves the food. I tried to make some new sauce, everything except the tzatziki sauce, we have it before, you can get it, right, the Marathon sauce. Everybody love it, everybody likes to stay late.

AMELIA: What’s it like to deal with so many drunk college kids?

GEORGE: You’re fun, man. I think you’re fun. Let’s go … Everything’s fun.
Hard job to have it like, happy people. You work so many hours, you know, people came here and fun. Everybody respectful. Thank you, count a lot for that, like no problems, nothing, everybody wait for their food.

AMELIA: But George does have a problem with theft at the restaurant.

GEORGE: Last night, somebody take the picture, the little picture to the bathroom. You see the screw? He stole the picture over there, you see?

AMELIA: Oh, to the left? Dang.

GEORGE: Another picture, the two pictures over there, gone. Another picture, one, two gone. Everything. Then the dispenser napkins I buy last week, the new ones, everything gone.

AMELIA: You need to like, nail everything to the table.

GEORGE: Something like that, yes.

ROSA: Concerns about Marathon Deli’s tonight have ranged from their fries to theft but took a sharp turn when Simmy and Remy were joking around, and Simmy said Marathon Deli has a …

SIMMY: Blue Lives Matter flag on the fucking wall.

ROSA: So after talking with them, Offbeat reporter Taneen Momeni and I look around. Behind the register on a pole, there are two stickers of black and white American flags, one with a single blue streak and the other with a red streak. The Blue Lives Matter flag and Red Lives Matter flag.

ROSA: The Blue Lives Matter flag was created in response to the Black Lives Matter movement as a sign of support for the police officers. However, many view the flag as controversial because they see it as a symbol against the racial justice movement and a sign of white supremacy. The Blue Lives Matter flag also relates to the term “thin blue line,” a concept that police keep order in society.

ROSA: I got the chance to talk with Simmy more about her thoughts on the flags and Marathon.

ROSA: So we wanted to ask you about when you first saw the flag there and how you felt about it in general.

SIMMY: I’d say the first time I went there, so probably … within a week before classes start and I — sadly it was after I’d ordered, but I did not want to be there. I did not want to give them money after seeing that flag. But I mean, you know, what can you do? I still go there, but every time I see the flag, I just cringe.

ROSA: Her thoughts are that the Blue Lives Matter flag is …

SIMMY: a sad and ridiculous way of combating Black Lives Matter, and it’s disturbing to see.

ROSA: When asked about the flags over the phone, Marathon Deli’s owner Maria Koumpouras commented.

MARIA KOUMPOURAS: Well, actually, those aren’t Blue Lives Matter sticker or Red Lives Matter sticker, that’s the Thin Blue Line sticker and the Thin Red Line sticker, which is just that we support any law enforcement, but it’s a sticker that’s there, just like any other sticker that we have in there, doesn’t mean that we support one more than the other. We also support the Black Lives Matter, the LGBTQ. All of that. I mean, we support everybody, we support the school, we support everything.

ROSA: Maria also commented that Marathon Deli has Black Lives Matter flags and pride flags “all over inside the restaurant.” While our reporters did not notice prominent pride or BLM flags throughout the days we were at Marathon, there were stickers on Nov. 23.

Back to our night at Marathon …

ROSA: So all of you. A great group of you are at Marathon Deli today. What has led you here?



RHYS: Fatigue.

BECCA REDEKER: The attraction of Marathon sauce.

RHYS: Other words?

MATTHEW: Oh, Bojack. Bojack Horseman.

ROSA: That’s Rhys Aronson, Becca Redeker and Matthew Bigelow, three rambunctious out-of-state freshmen who decided to have a night out.

ROSA: What did you guys do before this?

RHYS: Engaged in Christian activities.

MATTHEW: We hit that Bible study. You know, I’m saying.

BYSTANDER: We went to Turf.

ROSA: So what are you guys wearing tonight? Our viewers do not know.

RHYS: Oh my God. I’ve gotten complimented so many times on this shirt. You don’t even know. Alright, so —

MATTHEW: I’m wearing my fucking Marathon right now. Damn it.

RHYS: Before I even got on the bus, I got four compliments on my shirt. You don’t know how much that does for your self-confidence. I was so happy. I was buzzing.

ROSA: Describe your shirt.

RHYS: So it’s a Budweiser shirt. I don’t drink, but it’s a Budweiser shirt. But I think the best quote is on the back. Becca, please read it.

BECCA: Just add guests and serve.

RHYS: Exactly. It’s all about the friends, you know. That’s all, that’s all I have to say on that.

MATTHEW: I’m wearing my Phineas and Ferb shirt. I look like Phineas. There is a pocket on the top left chest-tical. And I’m wearing khakis. And then my vintage vans, which aren’t vintage but are new, but look vintage. So they’re pretty sick. And, you know, I might build a roller coaster later. Who knows? I’m just kind of playing it by ear.

ROSA: Can you describe how the shirt actually looks to our viewers who don’t know what Phineas and Ferb…?

MATTHEW: Anyone who doesn’t know what Phineas and Ferb looks like needs to get with the times but I will describe it basically, basically — fuck you. Not actually. Well, kind of. I only meant it with half my heart. But basically, it’s a striped shirt and there are, like, yellow and white stripes going horizontally across it. They’re approximately five stripes on it.

ROSA: As all good nights out do, our night at Marathon descended into light chaos.

MATTHEW [RAPPING]: This life is a game if you want to play counting on your own mistakes. Live in it with no delay so fast. I’m getting growing pains. I forgot the words after that but then it goes like five er er er

RHYS: Life is short, live it up. Good night everybody.

ROSA: Next, Kimi Fleming tries to answer the most important question about the deli’s iconic ‘Marathon sauce.’


KIMI: During our night at Marathon, there was one main question we set out to answer: what is in the famous Marathon sauce?

EBONY SAMPSON: I think the sauce tastes like the Chick-fil-A sauce, so it’s probably like mayonnaise and something else.

AMARI BEACH: I think it’s mayonnaise-based, like I think it has like, yeah, maybe like, some sriracha. I don’t know.

ANNA BROBBEY-MENSAH: I think it’s like mayo-based. And some sort of seasoning. I don’t know if it’s like — I don’t think it’s Old Bay, but like, some sort of seasoning, but mayo is like, the main thing.

ANDREW JACQUES: I’m not 100 percent sure, honestly. I’m not like, a good — I don’t have much experience with like, cooking and stuff like that, and like, being a chef or anything, but I just know it tastes good, so that’s why I like it.

DYLAN MARTINEZ: I personally think it’s like a mixture between like, ketchup and mayo. I don’t know, I feel like it’s like something like that. Maybe — I know mayo has to be in it. Something like that.

ANDREW: The Chick-fil-A sauce almost has like a sort of slight barbecue-ish taste to it, I guess.

DYLAN: You could definitely taste the seasoning on the fries as well.

ANDREW: Oh yeah, definitely. The seasoning is really good.

DYLAN: I agree.

ANDREW: And this one, especially when it mixes in perfectly.

DANIEL HANCOCK: It has a little bit of a creamy texture to it than as, like, much of the spice from, like, the barbecue sauce.

LUKE BENNETT: The sauce, it hurts my stomach like it’s — I think it’s just mayonnaise and like, ketchup.

ANNY JAMESON: I think it’s with a mayonnaise, it’s mayonnaise-based, which I was telling him because he hates mayonnaise and I’m like, “But this has mayonnaise.” He’s like, “No, it tastes different.”

SEAN JAMESON: I think there’s probably some mayo in it, but I don’t like mayo but it’s just different because it tastes and smells different.

MARIO CASTILLO: I feel like mayonnaise, mustard, ranch, pepper and probably salt.

ZOE CROSS: Barbecue sauce, mayonnaise, um, ketchup and maybe like, honey mustard? I don’t know.

LAYLA NORDRUM: I’m not sure. It’s kind of like a Big Mac sauce. Kind of similar.

GRACE: It’s definitely mayonnaise-based.

JACK: Yeah. Mayonnaise-based, maybe a little ketchup.

GRACE: Maybe ketchup. I don’t know really where to go from that. It’s kind of like Chick-fil-A sauce but a little bit different.

JACK: They’ve got their own taste on it.

GRACE: Yeah, like their own spin on it.
The recipe is definitely somewhere on Reddit. It’s 100 percent somewhere on Reddit.

ATEM FONTEM: I think it’s, uh, like some sort of like, chipotle sauce-like mixture. It reminds me of chipotle sauce. But yeah, or maybe it’s like mayochup, like mayo and ketchup.

VALERIE MARKEL: Probably mayonnaise and barbecue like Chick-fil-A, I feel like it’s pretty similar.

KIMI: After lots of speculation, we decided to go directly to the source.

DANIEL PHILIPOSE: My favorite thing? Oh, it’s got to be a chicken gyro. That’s my go-to, but the Marathon fries kill it every time.

KIMI: This is Daniel Philipose, a line cook at Marathon Deli. A note for full disclosure, Daniel has previously published a freelance article with The Diamondback.

AMELIA: They wouldn’t tell me what was in the Marathon Sauce.

DANIEL PHILIPOSE: You know what, that is privy information. They might as well have made me sign an NDA when I got hired here because they won’t — they will not let me say anything. But it’s a mayo-based sauce, that’s as much as you’re allowed to get.

AMELIA: Alright, fine. Mayo-based, that’s all.


ROSA: Thanks for listening to Offbeat. I’m your host, Rosa Pyo. This episode was created by: Clara Longo de Freitas, Allison Mollenkamp, Kimi Fleming, Taneen Momeni, Riley Brennan and Amelia Jarecke. Thanks to the whole Offbeat team for their hard work, and a special thanks to Joe Ryan for his help as well.

Our music this month is “Money Moves” by Marco Sesay.

Follow Offbeat on Twitter @DBKOffbeat. And follow The Diamondback on Twitter and Instagram @thedbk.

You can find a transcript of this episode at dbknews.com. If you like the show, make sure to tell your friends and leave us a rating and review.

Thanks for listening. And we’ll be back with a brand new episode.


Correction: A previous version of this story misattributed a quote to Becca Redeker. The story has been updated.