Sam Stone, a Bon Appétit staff writer, eats a lot of fancy meals, but he also enjoys a basic chicken alfredo from Olive Garden. Here, he shares one of his favorite TikTok accounts at the moment, which reminds followers of the simple charm of chain restaurants.
Who wants a caviar bump off of this black AmEx? Would you care for a $25 artisanally crafted cocktail? In the food world, it’s easy to get so wrapped up in the next big thing that we forget about the foundations of the dining experience: sharing a delicious meal with people who you love. This is the spirit at the core of Dakota Wright’s TikTok content, in which he posts videos sharing meals with his husband and friends at what looks like every chain restaurant in existence. And it’s what makes his videos, posted on his account @PrintFairy, so unendingly watchable.
The concept of Wright’s content is straightforward: He and a group of friends go out to eat, and each of them takes their turn sharing what they ordered for the meal or “for to drink,” as Wright often says in a sharp Southern twang. They’re always going to restaurants like Olive Garden, Cracker Barrel, or Carolina Ale House—a local North Carolina favorite for Wright and his friends.
“Texas Roadhouse orders,” he and his husband trill in one video. They recount what everyone ordered—country fried chicken with double fries, house cocktails, and something called a cactus blossom. If the concept sounds simple, that’s because it is. These aren’t reviews—they’re even simpler, and I’m transfixed. Just like the menu at a TGI Friday’s, they’re not meant to be overthought.
The appeal of a @PrintFairy TikTok is, in fact, prety similar to the appeal of chain restaurants themselves. You know what to expect, the content will be reliably satisfying, and while it might not be the most earth-shattering stuff, it does scratch a certain kind of itch. Wright’s frequented restaurants are places that many of us grew up going to. He and his husband order dishes like Bang Bang Shrimp from the Bonefish Grill accompanied by an espresso martini, announcing each dish to the camera with some kind of silly pun (you’re shrimply the best, for example). It’s a reminder that sometimes simple is best.
For the 30 year-old, these videos have an extra layer of importance. In many of his videos, he speaks openly about struggling with disordered eating, and says that building a community around his restaurant videos has allowed him to drastically improve his relationship with food. “I’ve been in therapy for binge eating disorder for my entire life, basically,” Wright says. “If I didn’t have therapy, and I didn’t have all these TikTok videos and the community that’s built itself around them, I could have relapsed.” His followers, he says, celebrates his videos in a way that makes him feel more confident in his relationship with food.
The term “wholesome” has been co-opted by mostly terminally online Millennials to describe videos of dogs, but Wright’s videos give the word full meaning. They encapsulate the feeling of ordering a cocktail at an Applebee’s on a Friday night, or the whimsy of filming a silly video with a bunch of tipsy friends. And that’s the magic of his videos, as corny as that may be: They’re a reminder that a good meal isn’t always about finding the most precious, subtle, layered flavors in a meal. Sometimes chicken alfredo just tastes good.