SERIAL DINERS RULES HISTORY
The Serial Diners were founded in 1989 and dedicated
to dining at every restaurant listed in the Toronto Yellow Pages,
in alphabetical order, at the rate of one per week. All are welcome!
(For more information, see the
Serial Diners rules and
and an article and article2 and article3 and television spot about them.)
Over the years, one particular Serial Diners
rule has required
extensive revision due to ever-changing circumstances. Namely, rule 6
originally stated simply that "We skip no listings", i.e. we proceed
alphabetically through the entire Restaurant section of the Toronto
Yellow Pages. However, this raises the question of what constitutes
the "Toronto Yellow Pages". Due to the 1998 amalgamation of Toronto
suburbs into a new combined single Toronto "megacity",
and various changes in the Yellow Pages publishing policies,
our interpretation has varied somewhat over the years:
Note that the above discussion concerns the specific issue of which
restaurants get listed on our official
agenda. As the rules make clear,
even once a restaurant is listed in our official agenda, there are
numerous circumstances under which we still do not eat there (e.g. if
the restaurant is closed or out of business or has no room for us).
In such cases, we instead "fill up at Harvey's", and do NOT return
to the missed restaurant the next (or any other) week -- that place
has simply missed out on us. But that is a separate issue from which
restaurants get listed in the first place.
"Toronto Yellow Pages"
referred to the Yellow Pages of the pre-1998 [central] city of
- When the Yellow Pages were later split into the Toronto Central West
Edition and the Toronto Central East Edition, we proceeded by merging
those two listings together into a single listing, and using that
When the Yellow Pages were combined in 2009 into a single
"One Toronto Core Centre" Yellow Pages for the entire amalgamated city,
this rule was changed to refer to the entire combined listings.
In 2011 we added the new proviso that we will skip any restaurant
whose location falls within the geographic boundaries of the pre-1998
suburban regions of Etobicoke, North York, or Scarborough, if it is
not on a subway line and if we cannot confirm in advance that the
restaurant exists and is open for dinner on Fridays.
In 2011, we also added the proviso that
for restaurant chains with multiple separate listings,
while we must still go to the
first chain listing (regardless of location), and also to any subsequent
separate listings whose locations fall within the geographic boundaries of
the former (pre-1998) city of Toronto, we now
can and will skip all
subsequent chain listings whose locations fall outside the geographic
boundaries of the former city of Toronto (thereby sparing us 4 extra
weeks of Kelsey's in Etobicoke and Scarborough).
In January 2012, the Revised Amalgamation Accord allowed us to skip
any restaurant in the (combined, amalgamated) Toronto Yellow Pages which
falls geographically in the
former (pre-1998) city of Etobicoke or North York or Scarborough,
and is more than 20 minutes by TTC from a subway or RT stop.
In 2014, the rules about multiple separate listings were modified to
distinguish between restaurant chains (where we only have to go
to the first address within the former (pre-1998) city of Toronto),
and non-chains (where we must go to every address listed).
- In 2016, the Yellow Pages returned to segregating the city by
neighbourhood again, rather than listing all Toronto restaurants in
every edition. So to include all restaurants in the core city, we
shall combine the listings from the Toronto Core Centre, Toronto Core
Northeast, Toronto Core Southeast, Toronto Core West, and Toronto North
directories (but not the Etobicoke and Scarborough directories).
We note in passing that, over the years, certain other rules have
been added as well. For example, at some point in the 1990s, it was
decided that we did not have to eat at any restaurant which has nothing
on the menu other than Stew of Cods' Heads, or is known to contravene
the official Serial Diners code of ethics.
But these are mere trifles -- the issue of which restaurants should be
included in the official agenda has been our most vexing rules debate.
With these additional historical insights, you can now return to
the Serial Diners rules with greater
understanding and context.
See also the Serial Diners current agenda
and an article
and television spot
This page is http://probability.ca/diners/ruleshistory.html;
please send corrections to