By Dan Rubin, BCEagles.com contributor
On weekends, Alec Lindstrom is No. 72, the starting center on the Boston College football team. He’s the Eagles’ starting center, an anchor whose older brother, Chris, was the Atlanta Falcons’ first-round draft choice in 2019. He’s at the forefront of the team’s offense, a local piece of the school’s “O-Line U” tradition, likely to hear his own name called in the near future when it’s time to play on Sundays. On the field, he’s a 300-pound beast with razor quickness and raw, powerful horsepower.
Off the field, Lindstrom is a guy that loves food. It’s not really much of a surprise since offensive linemen hoard calories as an occupational job requirement, but he takes it a step further. He really loves food.
Actually, he really, really loves food to the point that he developed a whole alter ego around it: Ric, the host of “Ric’s Reviews” on social media.
“Luckily for me, I have to gain weight (as a football player),” he said. “So it’s kind of a free-for-all. I can (eat) whatever I can get my hands on. I try to lay off soda, but when it comes to food, I can eat anything and everything.”
It all started with an innocent joke. Two years ago, Alec Lindstrom was a redshirt freshman on an all-world offensive line. He backed up center Jon Baker and developed behind a first unit featuring his brother. It was a unit bonded tightly together, and they did everything as one, including lunch. That’s where Alec, a “little kid” among the older brothers, had a little fun with his overflowing trays of eats.
“It was during my brother Chris’ senior season,” Lindstrom said. “We were at our training table, and one day, I just started talking about the food. I started reviewing it, and the guys all started laughing. We put it on our offensive line group Snapchat, and the guys all loved them.”
They ate it up – literally and figuratively – and encouraged him to post more, but it remained a part of the team’s Snapchat until BC’s ill-fated trip to the First Responder Bowl. Lindstrom performed a whole review for the entire team, and everyone latched onto the fun. His teammates prodded him to start an Instagram account, and he did after ordering a buffalo chicken calzone. It became his first IG topic of discussion.
“I didn’t really have a nickname, though,” Lindstrom said. “‘Alec’s Reviews’ didn’t really sound right. My middle name is Eric; I shortened it to ‘Ric’ and it just kind of stuck. ‘Ric’s Reviews’ really rolled off the tongue. It was catchy, so I put it on the account.”
He had no idea the moment would birth a BC urban legend. He posted about a dozen videos during the trip to Dallas but kept it going after the trip ended. His reviews continued through spring football with homemade recipes and recommendations, and he posted a video from the plane ride to Atlanta after the Falcons drafted Chris.
“It really started out with anything,” Lindstrom said. “Then we started moving towards special types of food. It would be loud when we’d go to restaurants, and I didn’t really like doing anything (with the noise), so we adjusted where and how we’d do the reviews.”
The whole process kept developing. Ric received tips for food options and began researching the best staple options. He turned it into an experience and crowdsourced recommendations. The videos themselves went from selfie-style talks into more elaborate productions. The only holdover was his consistent introduction, always beginning videos by saying, “What’s up my dudes?”
“I’ll do research on places so I can make an experience out of it, like when I did Roxy’s Grilled Cheese,” he said. “The (restaurant in Cambridge) is part of a larger arcade, so I made a day of it and got one to go before doing the review when I left. If someone makes something special – like a family friend or someone I know – I’ll do that review too. People like giving me recommendations, and I like looking things up to try to find something good.”
Everything evolved, including the review itself. What began as a joke transitioned into a mental algorithm based on the food’s smell, portion size and, finally, taste. Everything is scaled based on the food he’s actually reviewing and how common it is to his taste buds and diet.
“The first thing is the smell because if it smells good, it’s probably going to taste good,” he said. “Then I’m looking at portion size because I’m a bigger guy. If there’s some big portions, that’s something I’m looking forward to. It really depends on the food though, because if I’m going with something common like a pizza, I want to find what’s really going to stand out about it.
It led Lindstrom to a whole host of new food options. He’s tried different options around the Boston area and reviewed some of his old haunts from back home in the Western Massachusetts town of Dudley. He remains true to his own personality, readily admitting the only food group he doesn’t fully enjoy is seafood but refuses to rule anything out because of his dedication to the game.
“Everyone likes to give me a hard time that I always rate so high,” he said. “But I know I’m not going to eat bad food. There’s a little bit of a rating system. I know I have to balance what I’m looking at. It needs to stand out either right when I’m about to eat or right after I started eating, so I can go a little further to confirm a little higher or lower.”
It turned Lindstrom into a viral hit. He boasts well over 1,000 followers on Instagram despite only really reviewing for the past year. He’s recognized on campus, which is ironic considering the offensive line’s national prominence and his own status as a potential professional draft prospect, not to mention his family’s ties to the NFL’s first round.
“I was sitting in class last spring, and after it was done, someone came up to me to ask if I was ‘Ric’s Reviews,'” he said. “On Marathon Monday, people yelled at me because they knew me from the reviews. There have been a bunch of other athletes and teams following me. I have random people commenting from around BC and the other schools in the area. I try to respond to everyone because I really think it’s awesome that everyone is watching these videos.”
It’s led him to want to seek the next step. Ric’s Reviews is currently only on Instagram, but Lindstrom intends to expand through YouTube Live. The coronavirus outbreak forced BC students to move home and created a massive block of downtime even with remote coursework and football meetings. He’s used the hours to expand his vision for the reviews, while also spending time with his favorite chef.
“I’m going to keep doing food,” he said. “Once I get this YouTube channel, I’m going to try and do some baking tutorials. I plan on getting into some other, different things, too. I came up with a soda test that’s a 10-minute long video, and I want to do more things like that with things like fast food burgers or chicken nuggets. I want to measure differences between restaurants and keep branching out into other things.
“My mom is a really good baker,” he added, “and I always wanted to bake. We can’t really go out to restaurants now, so I’m using (my time) as a tool to learn how to bake. She is always going to get a 10 or close to it because she makes the best stuff.