America loves Olive Garden, or The Olive Garden, as it’s often called. I suppose saying, “Let’s have dinner at The Olive Garden!” lends a sense that the restaurant is unique and classy, much in the way saying, “The Elton John” suggests fame more than just “Elton John”. You may as well call it “Its Esteemed Majesty Herr Doktor Doktor Olive Garden”. Gosh that sounds fancy.
But Olive Garden isn’t fancy. Their breadsticks are effectively doughy sticks of butter with bath salts glued to them and the complexity of the dishes hardly exceeds the culinary know-how of the average child (spaghetti with meatballs: gee, I wonder how you make that). And it isn’t in any way “The” Olive Garden: there are thousands of these restaurants, and they’re all equally awful. When you’re paying 14 dollars for a small bowl of chicken alfredo, you’ve really got to wonder what’s so special about this place.
It’s the image. People think Olive Garden’s a place to dress up for because it’s got vines around the name and it’s a “garden”, but it’s still got that delicious diabetes taste you’d expect from any other family-oriented chain, like Applebee’s. Plus, when you’re paying too much for your food, you naturally assume it’s because of the fancy factor (and that makes it somehow worth it?). You get familiar nutritional abominations for prices that make the food glimmer with the appeal of apparent aristocracy. So ruffle your petticoats, kids, we’re going to The Olive Garden tonight!