My Say No to Olives t-shirt was a reflection of years of people who love olives telling me something was either wrong with me for disliking them, or that I’d eventually find the olive for me. It was meant an an over-the-top joke, and I loved the illustration. Many readers who like olives appreciated this, and said that they wanted to wear the opposite version, but thought it was cute. But! Some took offence that I would be so obstinate. I obviously miscalculated in terms of interpretation, as it did not cross my mind that a few would project the shirt onto an entire industry. However! To be perfectly clear: I have nothing against olive trees, the olive industry, olive oil (which I use copiously both to wash my face and to cook with), or the leaves on the olive trees. And/or any other uses of the olive tree, such as beautiful hand-crafted olive wood items that I see here in Greece. I just happen to dislike cured olives. And after years and years of people saying “no, your tastebuds are incorrect” and meeting others who had heard the same, I made what I thought was a fun a t-shirt.
The plan was always to have both sides represented in The Great Olive Divide, with the talented Maggie Appleton drawing both the tees in the same style. Given the reaction from some readers, I ought to have launched these at the same time to avoid misunderstanding. Instead, I opted to go with the one that jived with my taste buds first. But the “yes” shirt was already in the works. (My friend Mike Sowden — an olive-lover himself — can attest to this, as he threatened long ago to make his own so I reassured him I would be doing so already.)
Also, for those interested, there is a new book out about the history of the olive, which was and remains an important industry for many countries — including the one I’m visiting now, Greece. Kudos to the PR person in charge of publicity for this book, Shannon, who used the launch of the other shirt to write me and say “hey, here’s some background on olives!” — relevant pitch, secured.
As with the “no olives” post, some early sketches:
And the two t-shirts, side-by-side:
Maggie’s been calling these “The Olive Wars”, I call it “The Great Olive Divide” — whichever title you choose, it’s rare for someone to have “meh” on-the-fence feelings about olives.
Unless you’re a reader named Ted. Ted, one day we can make a “Eh… Olives” shirt for you.
Next up, a long (seriously, we’re closing in on another 4000-5000 word post) about where to eat in Saigon.