Some say the food of love is, well, actual food. The free kind, to be exact.
Teddy Liu and Ryan Lee have heard this a lot. They share the title of Supreme Cupid at Datamatch, a student-run online matchmaking service, which pairs Harvard students for a date and hooks them up with freebies at a participating local restaurant on their special day.
“People claim they do it for the free food, but I’m very certain it’s the excuse they give people for the connection,” said Lee, a senior concentrating in computer science who lives in Eliot House. “Deep down everyone is looking for that connection, and our participation rate across Harvard, which is about 80 percent, proves that.”
And it’s not just Harvard anymore. This Valentine’s Day, Datamatch will celebrate its 25th running as well as a nationwide expansion to more than two dozen colleges and universities. From its beginnings in 1994 as a side project of the Harvard Computer Society, armed with a paper questionnaire, the matchmaking service now has a staff of 30 with the love connections made by a complex algorithm that looks at personal profiles and answers to 20 multiple-choice questions.
Vice Cupid Catherine Tu, whose responsibilities include overseeing the question writing, said they must strike a humorous tone, and are meant to explore different parts of students’ personality. Among favorite past questions: If your flirting style is an app, what would it be? and I scream. You scream. We all scream for [fill in the blank].
“My favorite question in recent memory is: Which is your favorite whale noise? And it was followed with five different ‘Wooooh!’ sounds,” Lee said. “So that’s kind of the vein of the questions — quirky, fun.”