When I first heard about Stephanie Smith‘s “300 Sandwiches” yesterday, I was less than impressed. But then I took a moment to calm down about the fact that the woman had expressly stated her desires to earn a ring via religiously making her partner food.
Making your boyfriend sandwiches would be reasonable – if it weren’t so well presented as a blog-to-book deal. And people who do that well make themselves really seem terrible.
The premise of 300 Sandwiches, if you’ll recall, is this (according to the blog itself):
My boyfriend E is obsessed with two things: Star Wars and sandwiches. During a Sunday lunchtime viewing of “Return of the Jedi” he told me: “you are 300 sandwiches away from an engagement ring!” … And so, I got cooking …
I’m a Midwest girl living in New York, a writer and foodie who loves a good meal. I love chocolate, pork buns, and sushi more than I love a sale at Saks. I’m a woman who loves her man, but also never backs down from a challenge. If he wants three hundred sandwiches, then I’ll deliver.
Earlier today, my boss and my coworker were discussing why the reactions to this woman’s mission of sandwich-to-engagement masterminding is not as big a deal as people are making it out to be. I was skeptical. After all, with excerpts like this, it’s hard not to be irritated:
Ten sandwiches or so in, I did the math. Three sandwiches a week, times four weeks a month, times 12 months a year, meant I wouldn’t be done until I was deep into my 30s. How would I finish 300 sandwiches in time for us to get engaged, married and have babies before I exited my childbearing years?
The whole blog reads like a wistful sigh of sad desperation. Sounds stupid, right? Of course it does: it’s a blog with a dumb premise that people will click on because they find it annoying, silly or absurd. I did it just yesterday! You may well have, too! And that is the whole point. But then again, isn’t that the point?
Stephanie Smith is a writer for NY Post‘s Page Six section. She knows what gets people to click on things — every writer on the Internet does. Her 300 Sandwiches blog is so well packaged that the entire internet was clicking on it – multiple times – from outrage yesterday.
You could make a beautiful, well-designed, completely unoffensive blog on sandwiches, posting lovely photos each day, pinning them to Pinterest, creating a Tumblr for them, making a Twitter where you update followers with posts on it. But that kind of blog doesn’t get a girl a book proposal. Packaging your sandwich making as a route to the altar? That does.
I have no idea whether or not Smith and her boyfriend’s relationship is actually like this:
My boyfriend, Eric, is the gourmet cook in our relationship, but he’d always want me to make him a sandwich.
Each morning, he would ask, “Honey, how long you have been awake?”
“About 15 minutes,” I’d reply.
“You’ve been up for 15 minutes and you haven’t made me a sandwich?”
Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t but she wrote it that way in the blog because it makes for a good story. It also makes for an easily packaged excerpt for a book cover.
Maybe he asks for sandwiches in a joking way, maybe he doesn’t. We can’t possibly know because the way she’s posing it simply makes him sound like a complete and utter douchebag. Again, that’s the point. She’s supposed to play a role, he’s supposed to play a role, and they come together to create an easily digested blog story.
I’m not saying I agree with Smith’s blog. Personally, I would be embarrassed by it because I don’t think I would ever want my boyfriend and my’s faces and relationship details so far in the forefront of my own professional image. Nevertheless, I fully understand her (probable) logic, which was presumably, “This is a funny, novel idea that will rile people up; that means more clicks, which in turn means a higher possibility of a book deal. Cool.”
I understand the reasoning behind the outrage. Believe me — I do. But if not for the anger, how would they have wound up on The Today Show this morning? And if they don’t get on The Today Show, how will she get a book deal?
Those sandwiches aren’t going to make themselves.
Original Photo: 300 Sandwiches.