Marilyn Hagerty (born May 30, 1926) is a newspaper columnist writing for the Grand Forks Herald. She has been with the paper since 1957, when her late husband Jack Hagerty (1918-1997) became editor of the paper. Hagerty gained fame in March 2012 when her review of a new Olive Garden restaurant in Grand Forks, North Dakota, was noticed by online news aggregators and became an overnight sensation among both critics and admirers. Anthony Bourdain announced plans to collaborate with Hagerty. Hagerty was awarded the 2012 Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in the Media. Hagerty appeared as a guest Quickfire Challenge judge on Top Chef: Seattle “Even the Famous Come Home.”
Hagerty's career in newspapering began in the 1940s when she was a high school student and worked for the Pierre, South Dakota Capital Journal. By the 1970s, Hagerty had a regular column, and she also began a column of historical reminiscences, That Reminds Me. She was reviewing restaurants at least by 1976. She retired from full-time newspapering in 1991, but soon came back with a part-time schedule but a full-time workload. Hagerty writes five columns for the paper, and does not consider herself a food critic.
2012 Olive Garden review
In March 2012, for her "Eatbeat" column, Hagerty wrote a review of a recently-opened Olive Garden restaurant in Grand Forks, ND. The review was overall positive, stating that "the chicken Alfredo ($10.95) was warm and comforting on a cold day," and calling the Olive Garden "the largest and most beautiful restaurant now operating in Grand Forks." The review began to be linked to by various blogs the day after it was published, due to the novelty of an unironic, positive review of a chain restaurant. In an interview, she said she was unfazed by the attention, though she found much of it "rather condescending". She was covered by Good Morning America, appeared March 20, 2012 on Anderson and interviewed on The Today Show and CNN, among others.
Her son James R. "Bob" Hagerty, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, wrote an article in that newspaper about her newfound fame. He noted that "She doesn't like to say anything bad" in her reviews, and "If she writes more about the décor than the food, you might want to eat somewhere else."
In addition to son Bob, Marilyn and Jack had two other children, Gail Hagerty (b. 1953), presiding judge of the South Central Judicial District of North Dakota, chambered in Bismarck, and whose husband Dale Sandstrom is a justice of the North Dakota Supreme Court; and Carol Hagerty Werner (1954-2011), a lawyer.
- THE EATBEAT: Long-awaited Olive Garden receives warm welcome, Marilyn Hagerty, Grand Forks Herald, March 7, 2012
- "Bourdain to work with viral Olive Garden reviewer". CBS News.
- "National award for Grand Forks reviewer Marilyn Hagerty, Olive Garden lover". StarTribune.com. Retrieved 2012-08-10.
- "MARILYN HAGERTY: My guest appearance on Top Chef | Grand Forks Herald | Grand Forks, North Dakota". Grand Forks Herald. 2012-12-13. Retrieved 2012-12-17.
- Bakken, Ryan (March 12, 2012), Marilyn Hagerty: 'The Little Old Lady on Cottonwood Street', Grand Forks Herald, retrieved March 14, 2012
- Rao, Vidya (March 21, 2012), Eric Ripert 'very happy' Marilyn Hagerty reviewed his restaurant', Bites on Today, retrieved March 21, 2012
- THE EATBEAT: Little Bangkok is well worth the wait, Marilyn Hagerty, Grand Forks Herald, October 23, 2012
- (18 September 1994). MARILYN HAGERTY'S WRITINGS GATHERED IN NEW BOOK, Grand Forks Herald
- "Echoes; a Selection of Stories and Columns By Marilyn Hagerty (9780964286009): Books". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2012-08-10.
- Marilyn Hagerty: Interview with genius Olive Garden reviewer, City Pages Blogs, Kevin Hoffman, March 8, 2012
- Hagerty, James R. (March 12, 2012), "When Mom Goes Viral", The A-Hed (Wall Street Journal), retrieved March 13, 2012
- "Grand Forks, North Dakota". Grand Forks Herald. 2012-05-16. Retrieved 2012-08-10.
- "Carol Hagerty Werner". Bismarcktribune.com. 2011-12-03. Retrieved 2012-08-10.
- Bismarck Tribune, June 13, 1997, http://bismarcktribune.com/lifestyles/announcements/obituaries/article_e901ae22-f5f1-5afe-8a97-1206cfcc8b6b.html