I have to start off by saying that the Marilyn Hagerty phenom is arguably my favorite thing to happen on the internet so far in 2012. I am utterly obsessed with her and the internet’s reaction to her. It’s just so very hilarious and fascinating.
In case you somehow missed it, Hagerty is a woman who has for decades been a columnist at the Grand Forks (North Dakota) Herald. Roughly 24 hours ago, the paper posted her much-anticipated review of the long-awaited Olive Garden in town and it, fueled by social media, spread like a grease fire around the web. Rarely has someone gone from virtual anonymity to trending topic so fast. I myself spent about an hour reading through her archives last night — it felt as though I was reading restaurant reviews written by my maw-maw, which I suppose is a big reason people are taken by her.
But no one is more stunned by her sudden fame than Marilyn herself, who prior to today was most famous for having a lift station in Grand Forks named after her.
“I don’t get it,” she told one of her co-workers this morning. “I’ve been doing this for 30-40 years. Why all of a sudden now?”
Marilyn also granted an interview to the Village Voice to talk about becoming a meme of sorts.
Your Olive Garden review has been getting a lot of attention on the Internet.
Yeah, I don’t get it.
When did you notice the review getting attention?
When I open my laptop every morning, I always check my messages. I’ve been writing the Eatbeat for 30 or 40 years. Some people don’t like it, some people do like it, blah blah blah. But the bottom line is that my publisher many years ago told me, “Marilyn, I like what you do. I like the way you handle this.” So that’s the way I handle it.
I was lifestyle editor of the newspaper [before this] and I went to many national meetings of newspaper food writers, traveled with them, then I’d hear the people from Pittsburgh and Los Angeles and Seattle talk about their food restaurant reviews. We’re a city the size of about 50-55,000. We didn’t have a restaurant review. If you were going to review the fine dining here, you’d be done in three weeks–there’s only about three places you could call “fine dining.” And the rest is lots of restaurants and lots of fast-food places.
So I decided I would write news stories about restaurants because people in our area read the paper. They come into town to shop. They need to know what’s available and what it costs.
Was the Olive Garden opening really such a big deal?
Oh, it was one of the biggest deals in ages. The rumors had been floating around for a decade. [Whispers] The Olive Garden is coming to town. For some reason, people go to the Olive Garden in Fargo and they think it’s just wonderful. So it was greatly anticipated. The rumors went for several years.
Hagerty also told the Voice that she’s received a few “snotty” emails since her OG review went viral, to which I say this…
Marilyn, if anyone says anything especially hurtful to you, direct them to me, and I will personally see to it that they regret the day they were even a twinkle in their father’s eye. I will rain down an unholy hellfire upon them, and everyone shall know that Marilyn Hagerty is not to be f*cked with.
In a time where it seems like none of us can hide from the modern world, you have somehow managed to remain ensconced inside a blissful bubble where time stands still and people are endearingly naive, polite and sweet, and I will do all I can not to allow anyone to sully that.
Keep on doing your thing, girl. You’re a goddamn national treasure. Don’t let the bastards get you down.