An Olive Garden with text that says 'Main Character of the Week' in a web_crawlr font.

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Main Character of the Week: Olive Garden

Here’s the Trending team’s main character of the week.


Ramon Ramirez


Posted on Oct 7, 2023   Updated on Oct 9, 2023, 8:18 am CDT

Main Character of the Week is a weekly column that tells you the most prominent “main character” online (good or bad). It runs on Fridays in the Daily Dot’s web_crawlr newsletter. If you want to get this column a day before we publish it, subscribe to web_crawlr, where you’ll get the daily scoop of internet culture delivered straight to your inbox.

The internet is a stage, and someone unwillingly stumbles onto it weekly. This makes them the “main character” online. Sometimes their story is heartwarming, like a father who picks up his daughter from school and performs classic hip-hop dances in order to embarrass her; usually it’s a gaffe. In any case, that main character energy flows through the news cycle and turbo-charges debate for several business days.

Here’s the Trending team’s main character of the week.

It’s Olive Garden, an evergreen source of viral news. A strip mall chain that’s been inspiring Americans since the ‘80s with its earnest, doomed promises of family at affordable price points. Everyone loves its stereotypical Italian menu and can recite at least three items off the top of their head: Tour of Italy, the cheap kids meal… and never-ending pasta.

Like the McRib, never-ending pasta is here for a limited time only and wouldn’t you know it, the time is now. But one man arrived a day early to the party, and his cautionary tale blew up.

As we reported recently:

The TikTok chronicling the misunderstanding came from creator Bebis Webis (@__toomuchcake__), who expected to get never-ending pasta at an Olive Garden location, only to find that particular location wasn’t serving it when they arrived. In the video, a man sadly eats Olive Garden soup while an on-screen caption tells the story: “When the never-ending pasta deal is back at everybody’s Olive Garden except for yours but you don’t find out until you already sat down and the server is waiting for you to order so you just get soup and breadsticks,” it reads.

In the caption, the TikToker noted, “We checked the website afterwards and found out it literally comes back at our location TOMORROW! Guess we gotta go back tomorrow for round 2.” 

Never-ending pasta is back for a limited time and the dine-in deal will start at $13.99. But like the fall’s first cold snap, there’s no telling when things get real at your local OG so call ahead.

And here’s the thing: It was the biggest dang story of the week on-site. Hundreds of thousands of readers cared enough to click. And so we kept covering the saga. 

Customers said they effectively paid $3.50 per pasta bowl and that calculus inspired others to follow suit. Others issued a warning and said, basically, “Hey we got ours but in tiny bowls what the heck?” (In that TikTok, commenters corroborated the story.)

The mania continues to spiral as customers report hourlong waits for never-ending pasta—after ordering. And no matter how good the service is, which in this reporter’s experience is historically pristine,the pasta will probably make you full after one bowl anyway.

Despite several attempts, Olive Garden has not replied to our requests for comment.

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*First Published: Oct 7, 2023, 6:00 am CDT