In 1996, just as I was finishing high school, I bit into a bagel made with sun-dried tomatoes and olives. Setting aside the fact that I had yet to realize I had a problem with gluten (a problem by the name of “celiac disease“), I hadn’t eaten many olives in my day. My family rarely put them out at mealtime, and I cannot think of a time when they were served or cooked in a dish I ate at home. We were mad for pickles. Specifically Kosher dill pickles, specifically Mrs. Whytes Kosher Dill Pickles because WHY WOULD YOU EAT ANYTHING ELSE. Being Polish my grandmother made her own, but when they were not available, Mrs. Whytes was where the pickles were at. My cousin Alanna once devoured a whole plate of them at a family get-together. She was two. So we didn’t need olives, is what I’m saying. Pickles were what one ate when craving salt.
On that fateful day in 1996 I took a bite of this bagel and spit it out pretty quickly. The problem, it would seem, was the olives. I started asking friends if they liked these small balls of evil and it turned out that olives were fairly divisive. As I said in my FAQs post, no one has borderline feelings about them; you hate olives, or you love them. And in my case, I was clearly in the “hate” category.
As I’ve travelled and written and tried all sorts of different foods around the world, two important things happened:
1) I really still seriously dislike olives. Like, for real. I have had friends trick me by trying to bake them into foods where they won’t be expected and ha ha Jodi spat out the whole thing it worked. I have tried olives around the world, as I’ve said prior, but they are just viscerally so disgusting that I cannot even pretend to swallow them. I’ve tried olives stuffed with meat, cooked, baked, you name it. I’ve tried them in places so renowned for olives that the olive lovers fall silent when I mention my taste tests.
Then, quietly, “So, uh, even those didn’t make the cut?”
No, they didn’t. Nothing has. And let’s be honest, I can’t justifiably spit fire about olives all over the Internet without trying them in new places, because then people will just tell me “oh but did you try GREEK olives? Those are the BEST.”
I’m in Greece now, by the way. If they let me stay in the country once this post is live, I’ll try the olives there, as I always do. It’s not going to be pretty.
2) I’ve discovered that a lot of other people dislike olives too. So heartening! Joining in our olive hate! A quest to rid foods of this scourge of taste! I’ll stop. Basically, thanks for making me feel like less of an albatross. And thanks also for asking for a t-shirt to announce your preferences to the world.
(Of course I love olive oil — it’s fabulous. Just not a fan of the olive in edible form.)
3) I also know how many people LOVE olives, so don’t worry there is the counterpoint in the Great Olive Divide here. All of these will be in the new shop that accompanies my site (see below), but I wanted to update the post to make this clear as the pro-olive camp is taking umbrage. I wouldn’t leave out the other part of my readers, but had to launch the one that works best with my tastebuds first ;) And of course as someone who uses olive oil for cooking all the time and washes my face with olive oil in lieu of a cleanser, I benefit from the industry tremendously. I just don’t like the taste of olives.
How did this design come about?
A friend in Saigon, a talented illustrator named Maggie, likes olives — but also enjoys a challenge. Despite eating them herself, she was willing to let me hire her to design this t-shirt and go back and forth on what it would look like. Given my aggressive averseness to olives, her sketches started out grim and wonderful, a dark embodiment of my truest of olive feelings.
Unfortunately we thought the barbed wire and blood would be a bit alienating.
The next version was a little more friendly.
But the blood was still a bit much.
This version was a bit too cartoony for those who I polled in this process, but I also liked the styling:
We settled on something like “angry olive doesn’t like be left out of the taste party”.
It was the perfect balance.
You can pick up your t-shirts (men’s and women’s soft cotton, same base t-shirts as the Vietnam maps campaign) here.
“Say No to Olives” Collateral
Because we’re a bunch of nerds, we also made wallpapers available for mobile, iPad, and desktop. Just in case you really wanted to advertise how much you hate olives. They’re available for download (for free) here. If you hover over the file, it shows the device it was designed for in the filename.
Also, the one and only Max also bought me no-olives.com as a t-shirt launch present, which now redirects to the Teespring page. Woohoo!
Back of the t-shirt logo
For all Legal Nomads t-shirts, either hand-drawn maps or this olive shirt, this new Legal Nomads logo with chilli will be somewhere in the design, indicating its provenance without being too aggressive.
Thanks for all the requests for these t-shirts!