Stephanie Smith with boyfriend Eric on 'TODAY Show'
Stephanie Smith with boyfriend Eric on 'TODAY Show' (TODAY)

When it came to light that New York Post writer Stephanie Smith was making 300 sandwiches for boyfriend Eric Schulte in an attempt to get engaged, she was lambasted for seeking matrimony through an antiquated route.

Yes, they say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. But now Smith is less than 100 sandwiches away from the deal she struck with her live-in beau. We will soon see if this time-tested dictum holds up in 21st century America.

The time is nearing when Schulte will have to produce the ring.

Boyfriend seeks help for the proposal

Now that their unusual love story has captured the public’s attention — leading to numerous news stories and an appearance on the Today show about the love pact and its accompanying blog — the couple is in the spot light again.

At this critical moment, Schulte has penned an essay for the New York Post asking readers to tweet ideas for how to construct his proposal. Why?

“I already know that in the eyes of the public, the stone will never be flawless enough, the ring never shiny enough and the proposal never perfect enough to satisfy the impeccable taste and boundless prowess of Internet commenters,” he wrote. How did the opinions of Twitter users and blog readers become so integral to his love life?

It all started when Schulte told Smith that he would marry her if she made him 300 sandwiches one day while they were in the midst of their usual routines. The couple has insisted in several media reports that Smith’s boyfriend actually prepares most of their dinners, and that this challenge was more of an inside couple’s joke than a serious request.

Despite this, Smith started a blog called — you guessed it — 300 Sandwiches. Meant to document the process of developing creative sandwich recipes in a bid towards marriage, Smith also discusses her fabulous life in New York as a writer for a well-known paper, and her eager anticipation of making the 300th sandwich, thus getting the ring.

Bashed by critics, beloved by publishers

Smith an her blog have been called anti-feminist by critics, some of whom spawned the hilarious #300feministsandwiches hashtag on Twitter, spoofing her blog name with fictitious sandwich ideas that use feminist history in clever word plays.

Others have seen this whole affair as an insipid bid on the part of Smith to get a book deal, that then gets optioned for a movie. The first part of that cynical take has already become as a reality as Smith has just inked a deal with Random House.

Clearly, this couple has to keep the interest going. Enter Schulte’s plea.

Sincere request, or ploy for Twitter followers?

Whether Schulte really needs help with his proposal, or merely wants to drum up Twitter followers and create social media buzz by asking for help via the social media engine — as some have guessed — we will likely never know.

“Typical of media trend mongers,” wrote one commenter on black women’s web site Clutch Magazine. “Hey she got a book deal out of the practice so I suppose he figure if he can pimp some hashtags why not [sic]. Stuff like this really makes the internet annoying.”

Annoying or not, the 300 Sandwiches couple appears to be here to stay. While many people are befuddled by their extended 15 minutes of fame, others are watching in anticipation of what their future may hold.

Tweet @mr300sandwiches if you have some ideas for what shape the next step in this love affair will take. I’ll be over here eating sushi.

Follow Alexis Garrett Stodghill on Twitter @lexisb.