One of my kids brought home the following plastic cup from a visit to an Olive Garden:
As I was looking at all of the poorly conceived Italian food themed characters displayed on the plastic cup – the so-called “Ollie & Friends Italian Adventures” gang – and I began to wonder… What if there were a mass of children out there in the world who worshiped these inane Olive Garden characters like many kids do with other characters such as SpongeBob SquarePants, Power Rangers, Spider-Man, Pokemon, Barbie, etc.? After all, there are Ronald McDonald themed toys and there’s even three seperate Burger King video games for the Xbox 360. But could Olive Garden market Ollie the Olive and Bene Breadstick on a mass scale where it became popular with children across the globe? I doubt it, because these characters are lame. But what does Olive Garden think about them? Obviously not much, because Ollie and his friends fail to appear anywhere on the Olive Garden website. After giving it some thought, Barry Cuda wrote a letter to Olive Garden’s corporate offices in Orlando, Florida. That’s right, Orlando, the Capitol of Italian Food!
November 7th, 2007
Olive Garden Restaurants
P.O. Box 592037
Orlando, FL 32859-2037
Dear Olive Garden,
I’m praying that you can help me out! My two children have been totally enamored with your “Ollie & Friends Italian Adventures” characters ever since they discovered them on your Olive Garden kid’s cups and menus. All my daughter seems to talk about these days is Ollie the Olive and Gina Grape. My son’s favorite character is Ricky Ravioli, though he also likes Bene Breadstick as well as Tonya Tomato. They spend most of their free time drawing pictures of these characters. At school this year they both write stories; every one of the tales they make up involve Ollie & Friends.
After Halloween last week, the subject of Christmas came up. As you know Christmas is just around the corner, and both of my children plan to ask Santa to bring them nothing more than “Ollie & Friends Italian Adventures” toys and items this year. My daughter wants a stuffed Gina Grape, Ollie & Friends bed sheets and comforter, and any other thing with Ollie & Friends on it. My son is asking for Ollie & Friends action figures and an Ollie & Friends video game for either his Nintendo DS or the Xbox 360.
I initially thought that since Ollie & Friends is so popular with the kids these days that the market would be flooded with Ollie & Friends merchandise. However, I have not been able to find any Ollie & Friends items anywhere. Nothing at any of the toy stores. I’ve looked on your website, but found no mention of Ollie & Friends at all (which I find extremely strange given the fact that the characters are such a hit). I’ve searched EBay daily for the past few days now but have not found a single auction for an Ollie & Friends item. I’ve called around to different area Olive Garden restaurants to find out where I can purchase Ollie & Friends objects, but everyone I’ve talked to seems clueless. They have cups and kid’s menus at the restaurants, but my children already have plenty of those. When I mentioned to my kids yesterday that Santa might not be able to find any of the Ollie & Friends toys they were asking for, they both became very upset and started to bawl. They want nothing except Ollie & Friends for Christmas.
So I’m writing you today in desperation; you have to help me! Where do I go to get my children the Ollie & Friends items they’re asking for? If I’m not able to provide my children with the Ollie & Friends Christmas they so strongly desire, then I will likely shoot myself in the head because I can’t stand to see my children unhappy. Please write back and let me know where to locate these things, I beg you!
Olive Garden’s Reply:
November 18, 2007
Dear Mr. Cuda:
Thank you for your inquiry and interest in Olive Garden.
In response to your question, we do not have any Ollie and Friends merchandise available at this time for our young guests. We will certainly take your interest into consideration and submit you inquiry to our Marketing Department.
Again, thank you for your interest in Olive Garden.
Guest Relations Representative
Oh, no no no. That won’t do. Barry writes back…
December 2nd, 2007
Guest Relations Department
Attention: Michelle Santilli
P.O. Box 592037
Orlando, FL 32859-2037
Dear Michelle Santilli,
I received your letter dated on November 18th this past weekend and what do you mean you have no Ollie and Friends merchandise available?! Are you sold out, did you not meet the initial demand? Will you have more Ollie and Friends products in stock before this Christmas? I’ve been looking EVERYWHERE, but I’m not able to find a single item on my kid’s Santa list! They’ve already written Santa letters asking for nothing more than Ollie and Friends toys. Please HELP ME! Surely you have some Ollie and Friends things in your warehouse somewhere – I am willing to pay top dollar for these items!
Even when popular toys sell out at the stores, one can usually find the item on Ebay, but there’s NOTHING there when it comes to Ollie and Friends, which I find quite odd. Nevertheless, if my children don’t have these things on Christmas morning, I’m going to have no choice but to lie to them and say that Santa Clause came by late Christmas Eve night and told me that he had it in his list that they had been bad all year long, so he didn’t bring them a single Ollie and Friends toy they asked for. It will ruin their image of Christmas for the rest of their lives, but if you can’t help me with this, what choice do I have?
I’m pleading with you – PLEASE write back and let me know what can be done here. I’m willing to pay anything to get these items. Please, please, please don’t ruin Christmas for us!