Corrections: the Long Island Iced Tea Theory of Small Towns

“What do you recommend for a hot dog?”
“Two hot dogs,” came the reply.

via Marilyn Hagerty, Celebrated Olive Garden Reviewer, Tries a New York Hot Dog – NYTimes.com.

The matriarch of the viral Internet, Marilyn Hagerty, is in New York now. Yesterday, she was noshing at a halal stand near my office, as in this video.

It does not need to be said, probably, but the people who made sport of her are being way too mean.

  1. She is an old lady. (Is this what Americans do now?)
  2. You can’t fault her for taking a review of Olive Garden seriously. There are probably not many new restaurants opening in Grand Forks these days; certainly, there can’t be many she hasn’t eaten at.
  3. I well remember when the Chili’s Applebee’s* opened in Fort Dodge, Iowa: People went bananas. There was a line of cars through the parking lot and down the street. I bet that place was chock full every minute of the day for months. It is not that Applebee’s is so good, or that the choice of restaurants in Fort Dodge was so poor; it is that Applebee’s was new and different. And in a small town that is enough.

See also:

I well remember when the Chili’s opened in Fort Dodge, Iowa.

via The Long Island Iced Tea Theory of Small Towns | Patos Papa.

* These restaurants run together in my mind like law firms (i.e. Bennigan, Houlihan & Applebee) or bad American cars (i.e. the Houlabee, the T.G.I. Red Robin), and for that I am heartily sorry. I was just telling a friend about how, at the Outback Steakhouse in West Des Moines, all the workers used to sing the David Allen Coe standard “You Never Even Called Me by My Name” every night at 8 or 9 o’clock. Of course, I meant Lone Star. (You can imagine my embarrassment, having made a similar mistake a few weeks ago in this space.)

I don’t mean to be snobby (though I admit I find some of the national advertising by these chains to be nausea-inducing), but when you remove the adjectives from the menus, and the kitschy furnishings from the walls, all these restaurants have a lot in common. Including appetizers that are whole fried, seasoned onions, i.e. Texas Rose at Lone Star and Bloomin’ Onion at Outback.