Flashback: MIT Held A Bong-Making Competition Back In 2000

All photos via MIT Hemp Coalition

50 students, a basement, a phone receiver, a piece of tinfoil, and a chewed wad of gum

Here’s how the story goes according to a High Times article from June 2000: in September 1999, during the MassCann Freedom Rally, MIT Hemp Coalition (MITHC) treasurer Charisse Massay approached the legendary weed magazine’s booth on Boston Common.

Always looking for smart kids to build them some sweet water filtration devices, people from the High Times crew asked Massay if she knew about the storied Bexley bong-building competitions (named after the hall in which they were reportedly held), where MIT engineers were rumored to have a full cannabis grow with lights as well as late-night bubbler battles going back to the ’80s, if not earlier. The MITHC member said those hadn’t happened since the ‘90s, and from there an idea was (re)born.

The difference this time, as Chris Simunek later reported, was that unlike the underground secretive Bexley meetups, the First Annual MIT “Advanced Water Filtration” competition, held that Jan. 28 in the basement of Senior House, was sanctioned by a “begrudging” MIT administration.

High Times reported that about 50 students showed, and that “no actual cannabis consumption took place at the event, but cookies and milk were served.” Highlights from the 11 entries included:

-Mr. Bigglesworth, a triple-chambered 18″ handmade waterpipe with two percolators and two splash guards … 

-Tokamak and the VS-ONE, both of which utilized a two-chambered filtering device augmented by a thermoelectric cooler … 

-A bong [built] on the spot out of an Institute phone receiver and a piece of tinfoil, using a chewed wad of gum as a sealant … 

-A piece that used a graduated cylinder named “The Graduate” to deliver hits that could be measured out to the nearest milligram … 

-Bongs that blinked, bongs that buzzed and bongs that spilled water all over the floor due to imperfect construction.

Simunek asked one of the participants, “When you leave here, what do you plan to do?” To which the student responded, I’m going to go into finance, make a lot of money, and retire young.

The reporter followed up: “Then what, sit around and smoke pot all day?”

Well … Maybe half the day.

We hope that went as planned.

As for the MIT Hemp Coalition … after hosting a second bong-making event the following year, their activity appears to have fizzled out. The last meeting minutes posted on their web page are from Sept. 12, 2001.

If you know anything about the old Bexley competitions or can point me in the right direction, please email: fara1@talkingjointsmemo.com.