What do you do if you're on the road all the time, have grimly chewed your way through way too many chain restaurant meals and have six hundred thousand social network followers? If you're comedian Kathy Griffin you turn Twitter into your personal Yelp or Chowhound, one that works in real time, and has none of the bitchy in-fighting so common on comment boards.
The brainstorm came while on a recent three-city performing tour of Oklahoma. Griffin, whose cravings run toward lovingly prepared meals that reflect the region and (hopefully) involve dough, sugar and deep fat fryers, fired a couple Twitter shots in the dark including "Drivin from OK City 2 Thackerville OK. Any good 'mom n pop' type diners, dives or drive ins on the way?" and "I don't know what Gwyneth Paltrow eats after a show, but here in OK, we eat FRIED EVERYTHING."
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One of the dozens of responses that instantaneously flooded Griffin's Twitter feed was for fried pies. "I was like, 'What the HELL is that? That sounds like HEAVEN,'" says Griffin (who in the name of full disclosure, this writer is friends with both on Facebook and in the real world). "So I tweeted back, 'Where are they?' and someone wrote back 'Where are you?'" When Griffin tapped out her location -- heading on Interstate 35 near Exit 51 -- her Twitter feed morphed into a silent GPS. "It was very specific, like, 'You're going to make a right here, and it's this exit and there's a sign that's red and white,' she says about how she ended up at a holy temple of fried crust and sweet, gooey filling called Arbuckle Mountain Original Fried Pies.
The experiment worked so well ("I didn't have a bad bite of food on the trip") that she's added it to her usual method of figuring out where to eat in a strange town: surfing the web and, because she can, e-mailing the Food Network's Guy Fieri directly. As effective as those techniques are, neither come with the charm or giddy hometown boosterism exuded on Griffin's fans' helpful tweets. "What I thought was really nice was that people were taking pride in their local places," she says. "Sometimes I'd even get 'Hey, my aunt has a restaurant. Go see her.'"
To show her appreciation for the tips, Griffin is always sure to give props to whoever tweeted her the information. "I told the fried pie lady and she didn't know what Twitter was or care," says Griffin. "But she did say that I sounded like Kathy Griffin and that she thought Kathy Griffin was really fun except when she talked about God -- and then she should keep her mouth shut."
Follow Kathy Griffin, of course, at @kathygriffin.