Newsday writer Scott Vogel samples some of the new food...

Newsday writer Scott Vogel samples some of the new food at Citi Field, as the New York Mets open their 2022 season, Mar. 31, 2022.

From shuttered restaurants to socially distanced happy hours, there was nothing funny about dining out during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. But Newsday food critic Scott Vogel found the lighter side of takeout-only service and eating on the go, an effort recognized Thursday with the Angele Gingras Humor Award from the Washington, D.C.-based National Press Club.

“Scott’s writing is witty as well as honest about some of the dreck we were putting in our mouths during the shutdown," National Press Club judges said in a statement. His work, selected from "hundreds" of entries, provided "a much-needed pandemic break with humorous and insightful observations about our national eating habits."

Newsday's FeedMe restaurants team covered how the pandemic halted the popular pastime of dining out for Long Island food-lovers. First came the state-mandated ban on indoor dining that shut down many restaurants and relegated others to nothing but takeout. Then came the dining igloos, makeshift heated patios and Plexiglass-separated booths that invited patrons back. Throughout 2021, Vogel chronicled how Long Island restaurants and their patrons were grappling. He reviewed gadgets purported to make eating in your vehicle easier and ranked fast-food chain fish sandwiches. Following the release of new Peeps marshmallow treats, Vogel wrote: "For all the new shapes, colors and flavors, eating a Peep remains a more boring experience than blowing one up in a microwave. But that may say less about Peeps than my own warped ideas of entertainment after a year of quarantine." He explored what compelled diners to eat outdoors even during Long Island's coldest months.

“I always laugh with Scott. His writing, his videos are always witty, gleeful and generous of spirit," said Deborah Henley, Newsday's editor. "The National Press Club judges were touched by the way Scott found humor to share with us during tough times — with his dispatches on pandemic eating: how-to-eat-in-your-car, the season’s new marshmallow Peeps, and fast-food fish sandwiches. For the latter, one reader wrote to Scott: ‘Turning to your articles is like finding a long lost witty friend and a too-long-hidden treasure in good writing.’ ”

This is the 49th annual journalism awards from the National Press Club, an organization that honors print and broadcast work in breaking news, politics, specialty reporting and photography. Vogel joined Newsday as a food critic in 2019.

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