Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives is a certifiable juggernaut. Helmed by Guy Fieri, who rode the success of winning the second season of The Next Food Network Star to become the veritable face of the network, the show follows its host around America as he hangs out in the kitchens of restaurants that dish up delicious comfort food.
But even if you’ve caught every episode (22 seasons and counting!), we bet that there are some things you never knew about this super popular show.
The format of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (or “Triple D,” as it’s affectionately known) is simple, and in many ways brilliant: Each episode, Fieri visits about three casual-dining restaurants and spends time with the chefs, watching as they prepare their most popular menu items from start to finish. It’s part travel show, part cooking show, part hangout. Fieri’s reactions to biting into these dishes have become the stuff of legend; he’s even made up a whole new lexicon, which often revolves around taking trips to the mythical "Flavortown."
His style is brash and his hair is spiky and bleached (we’re not even going to get into those sunglasses), but it’s a lot harder than it looks to provide running commentary while a chef cooks a dish in front of you, and few hosts do a better job of keeping the audience engaged and entertained.
It’s been years since Fieri has settled into his regular routine, so it’s funny to go back and watch some of the earliest episodes. Back before every Friday and Saturday night was loaded with wall-to-wall episodes of Triple D on Food Network (a strategy called “stripping”), the show was hosted by a guy (a Guy?) who was still trying to find his style. He was far more low-key in his voiceovers and overall approach than his current no-holds-barred shout. But now, when you tune in, you know exactly what you’re going to get, and Fieri always delivers.
There are few TV shows (and TV hosts) more polarizing than Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and Fieri, but love it or hate it, you have to admit that Fieri is very good at his job.
What’s more, his show has allowed chefs who have been toiling in obscurity for years to have their moment in the spotlight, often resulting in hordes of new customers streaming in from around the country
1. It Was Created by a Former Investigative News Producer
According to Allen Salkin’s From Scratch: Inside the Food Network, David Page was an investigative news producer for ABC and NBC when he decided to shift his faired ocus to producing food programming, working with Al Roker on Food Network specials. He spent months pitching show ideas to Food Network programming executive Christianna Reinhardt before one stuck in 2006: Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.
2. The Show’s Concept Was Invented on the Fly
During that fateful call, Reinhardt asked Page if he had any ideas about ways to feature diners. Even though he didn’t, he came up with the name of the show off the cuff, and Page quickly wrote up a one-page summary of the show.
3. Fieri Had a Serious Learning Curve
Even though it was clear that Fieri was ready for prime-time, the show wasn’t his idea, and being from California (which, though it once had plenty of drive-ins, isn’t exactly the land of classic diners), he wasn’t too knowledgeable about the culinary landscape. According to Page, Fieri was under the impression that diners only specialized in hamburgers and thought that huge menus (which are the hallmark of many diners) were a sign of poor quality. Also, the first time a chef referred to chicken soup as “Jewish penicillin,” Fieri cracked up, thinking that the chef had invented the term.
4. The Pilot Was Aired as a One-Time Special
The pilot episode took 21 days to film. It aired as an hour-long special on November 6, 2006, and because it was such a success, a full season was ordered. The first episode of season one, in which Fieri visited restaurants in Tarpley, Texas; Wichita, Kansas; and Baker, California, aired on April 23, 2007.
5. A Fan Paid $100,000 to Be Fieri’s Friend for a Day
Fieri’s star quickly began to rise, and he was a certified celebrity by the time the third season rolled around. So much so that a hedge fund manager, billionaire Steve Cohen, paid $100,000 to be Fieri’s bro for a day, during which they drove around Cohen’s home state of Connecticut and visited diners. The two actually became fast friends, and Fieri later highlighted Cohen’s favorite hot dog spot, Fairfield’s Super Duper Weenie, on the show.
Check out more behind-the-scenes info on the Triple D.
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