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85-Year-Old Restaurant Critic’s Review of Olive Garden Goes Viral

Marilyn Hagerty

An Olive Garden recently opened in Grand Forks, ND, and according to the Grand Forks Herald’s 85-year-old restaurant reviewer Marilyn Hagerty, it had become the talk of the town.

So, being a good journalist, Hagerty wrote a review of it. Almost immediately after her article was posted to the Herald’s website, it started to get an unusual number of hits, and quickly became the most read article on the site by a large margin. 

Why did the review go viral? Turns out snarky blogs like had posted the article because the idea of someone writing a review of a chain restaurant, as opposed to a place that serves fancier cuisine, strikes insufferable hipsters, er, sophisticated urbanites, as unusual.

The phone started ringing and messages started going up, and I had no clue what it was all about. These people were making fun of me…and then I thought, so what?” said Hagerty of finding out her review had gone viral.

In the article, Hagerty has this to say about the Olive Garden: “The place is impressive. It’s fashioned in Tuscan farmhouse style with a welcoming entryway. There is seating for those who are waiting.”

While these who ridiculed the review would argue that heaping such praise on an eatery that boasts about its endless breadsticks made Hagerty sound like a rube, the joke may have ultimately been on them.

Many of Hagerty’s regular readers have pointed out that focusing on a restaurant’s decor is just Hagerty’s polite way of saying the food is not as good, a subtle dig that was lost on those who mocked her. And though some have been snide about the earnest approach given to a chain restaurant, we like to think that the home-spun charm of Hagerty’s review also helped it to go viral. Don’t believe us? Watch Hagerty in the news report below and see for yourself.

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