A day after news spread that Scott Van Duzer, the 6'3", 260-pound owner of Big Apple Pizza in Fort Pierce, Florida, had given President Barack Obama a bear hug, partisans from both sides of the aisle took the debate to the most logical place: Yelp. As the New York Times' Caucus blog reports, the pizzeria's page was "suddenly inundated with hundreds of reviews, making it perhaps the most politically charged pizza review board around." The rush to post seems to have been specifically sparked by a call for a boycott of Van Duzer's shop.
A thread on The Daily Kos chronicles much of the saga so far, from the declaration of the boycott to supporters of Obama and Van Duzer urging folks to order pizzas for local shelters and volunteer organization, make donations to Van Duzer's charity, and finally, to enter the Yelp war with those attempting to sabotage Big Apple's rating. Detractors of the pizzeria, and President Obama, submitted one-star reviews like this one: "Yall [sic] Democrats can't afford to eat here anyway. This restaurant does not accept food stamps."
Yelp's "review filter," which is designed to catch "fake, shill or malicious reviews," isn't particularly effective at catching a mini-flood of one-star reviews. In this case, though, it seems to have been better at eliminating the one-stars, since the vast majority of what's left are the five-stars. Many of them having nothing to do with pizza.
In the end, Van Duzer's pizzeria came out on top. The Atlantic Wire counted the stream of reviews and concluded,"for every one-star review bashing Big Apple Pizza on Yelp, there were about 60 five-star reviews singing its praises. (We counted.)" Right now, the pizzeria's Yelp page reflects a five-star rating and over 2,100 reviews, making it the highest rated restaurant on Yelp in the entire state of Florida.
· UNDER ATTACK--SUPPORT BIG APPLE PIZZA--JUST DONATE!! [Daily Kos]
· Politics and the pizza man [The Caucus]
· Boycott Against Obama's Bear Hugging Buddy Failing [Atlantic Wire]
· Restaurant Owner Slammed on Yelp [Search Engine Land]
· All Barack Obama Coverage on Eater [-E-]