Before motherhood, Robin O’Bryant used ketchup as a condiment on a hot dog at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Now the mother of three, she uses it as a way to get her daughters to eat their vegetables. Little did she know, the funny and often ridiculous parts of motherhood – like considering ketchup a vegetable – would turn into a best-selling book.
O’Bryant graduated from Auburn in 2004 with a degree in nursing, her husband in 2005 with a degree in building science. Her husband’s career moved their budding family several states away from home. As a way to keep their families in the loop, she sent regular emails with photos of her daughters and funny, absurd things they would say or do.
“I just wanted to keep them up-to-date since they were missing so much,” she said. “But then they started sending them to friends and colleagues, and I started getting feedback.”
After realizing people were reading her stories outside of her family, O’Bryant started a blog, robinschicks.com, to make it easier for people to find her anecdotes. Before long, O’Bryant was hearing from moms across the country walking in similar shoes.
“Moms felt less crazy and validated when I shared my crazy,” O’Bryant said, who admits to laughing at herself daily.
After the blog became successful, O’Bryant found an agent and started writing a weekly column for her local paper. She drafted a manuscript and for several years, she went back and forth through her agent perfecting the then-titleless book.
“She helped me find my voice,” she said. “She cut about half of the manuscript and wanted me to write more about my family; my husband and my children.”
For more than a year, O’Bryant searched for a title for the book, and in a late-night moment decided on “Ketchup is a Vegetable and Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves.”
“I sat straight up in bed and emailed it to myself because I knew I wouldn’t remember it,” she said.
In a marketing dream scenario, Congress decided ketchup is actually a vegetable weeks before her book was released last November.
“It was a coincidence they passed that ridiculous piece of legislation when they did,” she said. “But then I thought how great it was going to be as a pitch.”
As for O’Bryant’s dinner table, ketchup is free flowing and welcomed.
“Oh in this house, ketchup is totally a vegetable,” she said. “If we can get down a couple of pieces of broccoli, I don’t care if it’s slathered in ketchup.”
O’Bryant and her husband reside in Mississippi where their three daughters are forbidden to wear anything related to bulldogs, rebels, black bears or anything else Ole Miss decides is a justifiable mascot.
“Every Saturday, they have their Auburn outfits on,” she said. “It’s being bred into them.”
You can purchase “Ketchup is a Vegetable and Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves” in eBook or paperback here.
Victoria Cumbow is a 2008 Auburn graduate. She’s a Communications Specialist with HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville and a freelance journalist. Find her online at victoriacumbow.com and follow her on Twitter @victoriacumbow.
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