Food snobs and the politics of acceptable food discourse

Did you guys hear about this story?

Marilyn Hagerty (a food writer from North Dakota) is now famous because people are assholes.  She wrote a favorable review of her visit to the new Olive Garden in her small town of Grand Forks, which has now gone viral thanks to incensed foodies.  I’ve posted the original review and the ensuing kerfuffle below.  It’s interesting to read about the metropolitan bloggers trying to wrap their heads around the fact that an Olive Garden opening up in a small town in North Dakota would be a big deal to the people of that town.

Here is the original review by Hagerty.

Here is the original repost from a Denver foodie.

Gawker did an extremely condescending phone interview with her here.

Ditto Village Voice.

Other stories by city pages here and here.

On her recent internet fame, the 85 year old journalist says, “I don’t get it… I don’t have time to sit and twit over whether some self-styled food expert likes, or does not like, my column.”

Thanks to the Huffington Post for making it easy to post the genealogy of this story.

Raise you hand if you are guilty of going to Olive Garden and eating enough bread sticks to induce a coma…





Leave a comment


  1. Wait til you read Foodies — turns out everyone’s an asshole.

    John – you use the words “kerfuffle” and “incensed.” Without having clicked through any of your links or any of the links people have posted to FB, I must say I have not seen one reference to this lady that wasn’t gushing admiration. Maybe you perceive it to be twinged with condescension? I have only seen seemingly well-intentioned declarations of love – the making of a momentary internet hero. (Which is its own pathology.) But it seems difficult/pointless to judge from the outside whether somebody’s enjoyment of something is ironic or, dare I say, authentic? Doesn’t it?

  2. Carly- I hadn’t checked out the FB page (or the comments on the blogs, for that matter). I was struck by (what I read as) the condescension in the village voice/gawker phone interviews, but you’re right, this kind of discussion is probably pointless.

    I guess I should have thought about it a bit more before I posted it. What do you (or anyone else) make of the Hagerty story?

  3. I’m glad you noticed this as well, at first I had the same reaction, perhaps it stems from defending Montana and Utah from criticism? I’m not even from there and I have a chip on my shoulder, but while it seems that some of the original sentiment was to mock her, North Dakota, and Olive Garden, Hagerty has been transformed into an internet meme (she’s going to be interviewed by Anderson Cooper!!!! AND eat at Le Bernardin!!!!!)—there’s probably some mockery left in this, but I think she’s become larger than that one review at this point. And apparently (according to her editor) her review of the Olive Garden was rather negative compared to her usual tone, turns out even she isn’t impressed by Olive Garden.
    Here’s an article by her son about his mom becoming an meme (read it before the Journal hides it behind a pay wall):
    And so that we fully embrace this meme ourselves, here is Hagerty’s own blog:


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