Um Yah Yah!

Here’s a question: What is the only college fight song in 3/4 time?

And here’s the more important question: What is the only college nerdy enough to notice that theirs is the only fight song in 3/4 time?

Thaaaaat’s right, folks, St. Olaf College! (And I say “nerdy” with only the utmost love and affection, for I myself was a music major.) Home of the melody that, rather than pump up athletes before the Big Game, suggests they grab the nearest opponent and go a-waltzin’ through the meadow.

The words don’t necessarily add any coherence to its puzzling status as a fight song. Here, for example, is the refrain:

Um yah yah! Um yah yah!
Um yah yah! Um yah yah!
Um yah yah! Um yah yah!
Um yah yah yah!

I don’t actually know what it means. But no matter! Comprehension takes a backseat when one is given such a bouncy and pleasing melody. (And just for your information, the text of the verse does make rather more sense.) For those of you unfamiliar with this toe-tapping tune, here is a clip (, published on YouTube by St. Olaf) that perfectly illustrates the college’s character. As the video’s description states, the college was in the midst of moving things around, and all the pianos ended up temporarily in the recital hall. Naturally, the piano students and faculty wanted to see what they sounded like all played together, and what follows is the unrehearsed result, with “Um Yah Yah!” making an appearance at minute 1:59:

And THAT is why I love St. Olaf.

I was not only lucky enough to attend this incredible college, but I made some lifelong friends in the process. We met the first day of freshman year, lived together every year after that, and have managed (despite living states apart) to get together at every Christmas and every summer since graduation (with a healthy amount of weddings and baby showers sprinkled in between). At our most recent Christmas gathering, I decided to attempt recreating one of the traditional “St. Olaf scenes:” sitting on the sign at the college’s entrance.

I created little fondant people modeled after each of my friends. First comes the head:

IMG_2700  IMG_2702
Next comes the body. Torso first, then the jeans:


After the bodies were all made, I stuck a toothpick through the whole thing- jeans, torso, arms, and head- in the hopes it would provide structure and stability:


On come the heads! This is the fun part- individually styling everyone’s hair. 🙂 For the curly girls, it seemed to work better if there was a base (like a helmet) and that way, if there was a part of the head not covered by the curls, the bald skull wouldn’t show through. You can see the “helmet” on the blonde below:


Final additions: give each girl something related to one of her majors. (It was necessary in order to easily tell everyone apart- let’s face it, fondant people all look the same.) From left to right: Greek text for the Classics major, novel for the English major (there are some little white things under the book that I took out later- they were there holding up the book so it would dry upright as if she was reading it), stethoscope for the premed major, laptop for the English major, paperwork for the social work major, apple for the education major, baton for the music major, and a Bible for the religion major.

Ole girls

The next step was to create the sign. I just covered a piece of styrofoam with buttercream and then black fondant, and piped the letters with royal icing. Let this dry for a few days and it’s ready to stick on the final cake! Final step- create the actual cake. I used a brick mat to create the brick effect, and then added a little luster dust to create some dimension on the bricks:

cake base bricks

Final version! (I made the sign as it stands currently. Since our graduation, they changed it– I’m guessing they made it curved so that people would stop sitting on it. 🙂 )

Oles with sign

“If you have two friends in your lifetime, you’re lucky. If you have one good friend, you’re more than lucky.”
– S.E. Hinton

It looks like I’m seven times lucky!

Read sign and cake sign

14 thoughts on “Um Yah Yah!

  1. Erica

    I attended St. Olaf as well and heard as a rumor the um ya ya came to replace the names of the Olaf professors they used to sign in the refrain – for example: Anderson, Gunderson, Christianson, Erikson and the like :). Haha. Cute desserts.


  2. Sara

    Weeeeee come from St Olaf we sure are the real stuff… Um Yah Yah sister! Class of ’94! Love the fondant people. Pretty sure we all have at least one pic sitting on the sign.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s