The Olive Garden has been crapping out adequate fare for nearly thirty years, all the while striving mightily to frame itself as the workingman’s access to continental dining. Targeting those customers for whom the Red Lobster is too provincial, the Olive Garden aspires to bring the charm of an idealized Old World Italy to such unlikely spots as Lexington, Kentucky or Elko, Nevada.
These Ample Eaters Are More Representative Of Olive Garden Customers Than Are The Beautiful People In The Commercials
No one begrudges Olive Garden’s right to pass off its inedible fare as authentic Italian. Americans have long been tolerant of such culinary bastardizations, preferring them in most cases to the authentic ethnic dishes from which they came. However, as understandable as Olive Garden’s right to make a profit from the insensate palates of gastronomically-benumbed Americans may be, their commercials venture into the realm of the unforgivable.
One familiar commercial features a laughing group of family members engaged in spirited non-stop conversation about the food set before them, thrusting lightly with their forks at one another’s plates, merrily sharing food.
Any real gathering of an American family that doesn’t include drunken recriminations and acidic passive-aggression is a sham. Moreover, in the current climate of bacterial paranoia coupled with orgiastic overeating, anyone foolish enough to attempt snatching food from a neighbor’s plate is most likely to end the encounter with a fork jutting from the back of his hand.
Another commercial features a similar assemblage, this time a group of upwardly mobile, physically fit and improbably racially diverse friends. Like the aforementioned family, the hot young pals can think of nothing better to discuss than the fine fare at Olive Garden, until one asshat kills the conversation by declaring his intention of “doing the alfredo.” Outside of their boorish behavior, these people bear very little resemblance to the mouth-breathing hominids one is likely to encounter within the stuccoed confines of this craptastic eatery.
Olive Garden’s most memorable campaign is also its most odious. It should be familiar by now: an unctuous voice, oozing with manufactured warmth, intones at the close of the commercial, “When you’re here, you’re family.”
Really? Unless it’s a tacit guarantee that the meal will be free, promising to treat the customer like family is cynical glibbery of the lowest order. It’s doubtful that many people will recall Mom charging $14.95 for a lackluster plate of spaghetti with the promise of unlimited salad and MSG-encrusted bread sticks.
And last is this commercial, which informs us breathlessly that “At Olive Garden, ‘generosity’ begins with a G,” clearly ignorant of the fact that the word also begins with a G throughout the United States and many parts of Canada. However, the unconvincingly accented narrator goes on to remind us that at Olive Garden, generosity ends “when you are happy,” which sounds a lot like this Chinese massage parlor that Smaktakula knows about.