7 WEEKS OF PASTA: AN INTERVIEW

Before Olive Garden ended its “Never Ending Pasta Pass” promotion on Nov. 9, 1,000 lucky winners paid $100 dollars to eat free pasta for seven weeks. Among the select few was my long-time friend Thomas Craft. He graciously allowed me to interview him about his experience.

How did you hear about the Olive Garden Never Ending Pasta Pass and how many meals did you eat?

I first read about the “Never Ending Pasta Pass” on Reddit.com and decided to sign up. I ordered take-out probably 44 of the 49 days. Usually, I only went once a day, but about 25 percent of the time I went twice. 

Did the people at the Olive Garden know you and always have a meal ready? How did that work? Was it ever weird, awkward, or funny picking up food?

Yes, it was nice. I want to say that the staff was amazing. It was like going to a hometown restaurant, kind of like Cheers. I walked in and everyone knew my name. They’d say “Hey, TC” and talk about pasta with me. The staff was top-notch, but the conversations were awkward.

What was your typical meal?

I always got chicken fettuccine alfredo and zuppa toscana soup. Once in a blue moon I’d get a salad, but I mainly went for a hearty meal rather than a salad. I really wanted grilled shrimp scampi, but that wasn’t covered in the promotion. They did have fried scrimp scampi, but I tried to stay away from the fried food — healthier. 

How would you rate the pasta in the beginning and how would you rate it by the end?

Overall, I’d rate the quality of the food as a 6.5/10. The pasta was hit-and-miss, but the soup, salad and breadsticks were always good. By about week two, I was sick of the food, but I had to eat it because it was free, and I didn’t want to waste an opportunity. At the end, I was craving a burger.

How about your health? Did you gain any weight? Did you see any negative effects like Morgan Spurlock did in “Super Size Me?”

Everyday I’d get pasta, breadsticks and two bowls of soup, which equals roughly 2000 calories, so I tried to ration that throughout the day. However, I didn’t always follow that. I started out weighing about 155 and ended up closer to 170. A negative effect that’s not health-related was the amount of friends I gained. I’d take the food to work, and people would vulture it because I got it for free.

Do you plan on going back to Olive Garden anytime soon?

No. In fact, I’ll probably only go back if I’m forced to. Not because I don’t like it, but because I’ve been there so much. If I go there, it won’t feel like I’m going out to eat anymore.

If you had to do it all over again, would you?

I would do it tomorrow if I could, but I’d hate it. You can’t beat something that costs $Free.99.

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