Grand Forks columnist looks back on viral Olive Garden review


It's been just over a year since Marilyn Hagerty's earnest review of the newly-opened Olive Garden in Grand Forks, N.D., earned her national fame.

"I went viral, and I didn’t even know what that meant," the Grand Forks Herald columnist writes. "In the past year, I have learned."

Her judicious assessment of bread sticks and chicken alfredo received 1.3 million hits last March. Calls came in from the "Today" show, Jay Leno and CNN's Piers Morgan and Anderson Cooper. Anthony Bourdain, celebrity chef and author, praised her work.

"To top it all off, I received the Al Neuharth Award for excellence in journalism for 2012 that had gone before to the likes of Garrison Keillor and Walter Cronkite."

How did the critique of a popular American chain restaurant gain so much attention?

Not all feedback was good. Snarky online foodies bashed the veteran reviewer in her mid-80s, but many were attracted to her genuine enthusiasm and unfailingly polite prose about a restaurant that's typically shunned by big-city critics.

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