— -- Marilyn Hagerty has struck again. Writing her way into America’s hearts back in 2012 with her viral review of Olive Garden, the 88-year-old food critic's quiet life in Grand Forks, North Dakota has taken a viral turn in the age of the Internet. Since then, every review she earnestly writes for the Grand Forks Herald on Ruby Tuesday, Applebee’s and more seems to make national news.
Now, it’s McDonald’s turn to get the Hagerty treatment. Most food reviews tend to feature the hottest new spot in town, so it’s a pretty novel experience to see McDonald’s in a food critic’s spotlight.
“I hadn’t written about McDonald’s for a while,” Hagerty told ABC News. "So I decided to go to all of the McDonald’s in greater Grand Forks and just kind of write a report on who goes there, what they eat, what’s good and what’s not good.”
Hagerty admits she loves McDonald’s and goes quite often for their latte -- despite the machine sometimes being broken.
“The lattes cost less than those I enjoy at Starbucks. But they are worthy,” she wrote in the review. “The only problem is occasionally, one of the restaurants will tell you their machine is not working. ‘Not working?'’ I think. I almost foam at the mouth in disgust, but I try to be pleasant.”
It’s lines like those that have earned Hagerty her fame, with people on Twitter calling her America’s hero food critic and a national treasure.
“It’s kind of crazy really. It’s very amusing to me and it just amazes me,” she said of the notoriety. “It’s what I’ve been doing for so long and all of a sudden after 30-some years, people find something – I don’t know what – they find it amusing, they find it ridiculous, whatever they find it. I don’t care just so they read it.”
And read it they have, though it’s true that not everyone finds Hagerty’s earnestness endearing. It’s that trademark honesty that led her to national fame, though, and even a book deal that compiled all her best reviews with a foreword by food superstar Anthony Bourdain, who sung her praises, writing, “This is a straightforward account of what people have been eating – still ARE eating – in much of America. As related by a kind, good-hearted reporter looking to pass along as much useful information as she can – while hurting no one. Anyone who comes away from this work anything less than charmed by Ms. Hagerty -– and the places and characters she describes -– has a heart of stone. This book kills snark dead.”
In the midst of all the press – good and bad – Hagerty keeps plugging away on her reviews.
“My column next week will be quite a switch. It will be the Grand Forks Country Club and it’s south of town,” she revealed. “They serve very nice dinners and they have opened it up to the general public until golf season opens. So I went out there and had dinner on a Saturday evening, and it was a very fine meal. Quite a switch from McDonald’s.”
But she was sipping on one of her beloved Mickey D's lattes as she said it.