Fans are writing science fiction and horror stories set at the family restaurant.
olive garden exterior
Credit: Courtesy of Olive Garden

This is the story of how one serious, thoughtful essay about Olive Garden spawned a bunch of Olive Garden fan fiction. The essay, "Christ in the Garden of Endless Breadsticks" by Helen Rosner, published on Eater, includes the line, "There is only one Olive Garden, but it has a thousand doors." As pointed out by Twitter user @drhypercube, the line is rife with horror/science fiction potential. Rosner took the observation and ran with it, issuing an Olive Garden-based fan fiction challenge to see just how creative people could get with Italian food.

Rosner offered to buy dinner for four, at Olive Garden of course, for the first four people to write Olive Garden fan fiction based on the line. Sure enough, people took her up on the offer. Social scientist David Masad wrote a piece about a magical Olive Garden of plenty, including the line "The breadsticks had barely arrived before Deborah was up, walking past the restrooms, looking for another room, another door, not sure what she was hoping to find. All she found was a parking lot, drenched in unmistakeable Southern California light."

Another entry by Michael Harshbarger, a sports writer, involved an Olive Garden customer running into a sexless alien creature with piercing eyes. Curtis Døde Aldri, wrote a piece entitled "Infinite Bread-Sticks Of The Soul, Mind And Body (Reality Vs. Pasta)", but, when offered his free dinner, said, "I wouldn't eat at Olive Garden if someone held me at gunpoint. I did it for the lolz." (When Rosner generously replied, "Want to donate your dinner?" he said, "Yeah do that, whatever.")

The submissions kept rolling in even after the four dinners were claimed. To read the public submissions, you can scroll through the replies to the initial Tweet, but—bear in mind—a lot of the submissions were private. That means that there was a lot of Olive Garden fan fiction that the others didn't want the public reading. But hey, we already knew that pasta could be steamy.