They say if you make it in New York, you can make it anywhere. But could the infamous Cronut make it in North Dakota? Marilyn Hagerty isn’t completely convinced.
“Well, it’s very chewy, it’s very good,” said the 87-year-old restaurant reviewer who shot to fame last year after her review of the local Olive Garden in Grand Forks, N.D., went viral. “I think that I would like it with a cup of coffee, maybe in the afternoon … in the afternoon you can eat more,” she added thoughtfully about the doughnut-croissant hybrid that has become the pastry du jour. “I think a Cronut could make it in North Dakota, but we’re quite selective out there, you know.”
A couple hours later, the Cronut's creator Dominique Ansel responded via Twitter:
Hagerty elaborated on her Cronut review in an interview with TODAY.com, stressing the importance of pairing it with coffee.
"You wonder why people haven’t thought of this sooner," she said. "You stand in line for them. I think I’d join the line. I’d like a cup of coffee with it some time. You know a nice cup of coffee, that’d go well with it. I don’t think anything else would, I mean you wouldn’t want a soda pop, you wouldn’t want a shot of gin with it."
Hagerty unexpectedly became an overnight Internet sensation in March 2012, thanks to the impassive, straightforward tone of her Olive Garden critique, which some found comical in a review of a chain restaurant. Now, she’s come out with a book, “Grand Forks,” compiling her reviews for the Grand Forks Herald from the last three decades.
When Hagerty first found out about her Internet fame, her response, according to her son, a Wall Street Journal reporter, was, "I'm working on my Sunday column and I'm going to play bridge this afternoon … so I don't have time to read all this crap.”
Since then, Hagerty toured New York City; appeared on shows like TODAY, "Anderson Live" with Anderson Cooper and “Top Chef”; dined at the famed Le Bernardin, and met food personality Anthony Bourdain.
“I take some shots and get some compliments,” Hagerty told TODAY about the reaction to her work. “Some people make fun of me and some think I'm a nice old lady. The best thing that happened was when I was given the Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in Media. I felt sheepish about the whole thing. When I won this award I was overwhelmed, flattered and gratified.”
The food writer, who still pens five articles a week, found an unlikely ally in notoriously snarky Bourdain, who rushed to her defense and eventually procured her a book deal. At the time, he tweeted, “Very much enjoying watching the internet sensation Marilyn Hagerty triumph over the snarkologists (myself included).”
Bourdain said as much in the foreword to her book. “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,” he wrote. “This book kills snark dead.”
If “going viral” could’ve happened years ago, Hagerty would have experienced it. Her book includes reviews of Arby’s, Taco Bell and Dairy Queen, as well as mom-and-pop operations in Grand Forks — all written in her trademark earnest manner.
"We don’t all eat at hoity-toity restaurants," she explained about her chain restaurant reviews. "Some of us eat at truck stops and we go to McDonald’s and those places… we go there because we like it, we like the food. Sometimes in smaller markets it’s all we have. I think that the hometown restaurants, the ma and pa restaurants, sadly, are fewer now because there are more chain restaurants."
Matt Murray and Colleen Dudgeon contributed to this story.