She went and made a thingy from a little bit of stuff
January 26, 2018 8:31 AM   Subscribe

That little plastic doodad that keeps the lid of the pizza box from sticking to the cheese is called a Pizza Saver and it was invented around 1983 by Carmela Vitale. Everyone sing along!

(The song is from John Finnemore's sketch comedy radio show.)
posted by moonmilk (85 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
a small white sphere often stands on three narrow stilts

Sphere?
posted by little onion at 8:36 AM on January 26 [2 favorites]


Sphere?

Maybe the author was raised in Flatland?
posted by moonmilk at 8:39 AM on January 26 [27 favorites]


are the pizzas also spheres; do the toppings face in or out
posted by little onion at 8:43 AM on January 26 [15 favorites]


I've always preferred toppings-in sphizzas - the cheese stays hot longer because of internal radiation and crustal insulation. But it's impossible to tell until you bite into it whether the pizzeria put the beef only on the left side like you asked.
posted by moonmilk at 8:47 AM on January 26 [14 favorites]


but are toppings-in sphizzas technically just sphandwiches?
posted by little onion at 8:50 AM on January 26 [12 favorites]


Oddly, Vitale called her invention a "package saver," not a pizza saver.

Maybe she didn't care about the pizza and just wanted to keep grease out of the recycling flow.
posted by chavenet at 8:52 AM on January 26 [3 favorites]


It’s not a pizza saver, it’s a Barbie table!
posted by nicebookrack at 8:52 AM on January 26 [40 favorites]


It’s not a pizza saver, it’s a Barbie table!

Yeah, when I used to deliver pizzas many years ago we always called them Barbie tables.

in the United States, approximately three billion pizzas are sold each year.

I'm still on my first cup of coffee this morning, but that's 9 pizzas for every person.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 8:58 AM on January 26 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I usually eat at least two pizzas before coffee but I save the rest for later.
posted by moonmilk at 8:59 AM on January 26 [9 favorites]


I've always preferred toppings-in sphizzas

You ... you know you're just talking about calzones, right?
posted by solotoro at 8:59 AM on January 26 [8 favorites]


"sphizza"

I think what you want is maybe a calzone, though it never quite manages to approximate a true spheroid.

Pity the poor stromboli, that has to be satisfied with "horizontally oriented cylinder" status. (Really, it's basically an Italian burrito.)

The calzone vs stromboli wars rage on.

Okay, now I'm really hungry.
posted by darkstar at 9:00 AM on January 26


Argh! Solotoro...


*shakes fist at sky*
posted by darkstar at 9:01 AM on January 26 [2 favorites]


Are calzones sandwiches then? I’m confused.
posted by domo at 9:01 AM on January 26 [4 favorites]


"kipple is useless objects, like junk mail or match folders after you use the last match or gum wrappers or yesterday's homepage"
posted by aniola at 9:03 AM on January 26 [3 favorites]


Is there a reason that the pizza saver is not square, or rectangular or any other shape than the shape of the pizza? Would it lose it power if it weren't round?
posted by waving at 9:07 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


It would need four legs if it were square. Presumably, the loss of a leg saves some money?
posted by darkstar at 9:09 AM on January 26 [2 favorites]


we always call them pizza tables. my cat Herbert loves to play soccer with them! a pizza scented toy = cat heaven!
posted by supermedusa at 9:11 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


Since it's round, you can get away with only using 3 legs instead of 4. I bet there is a geometric solution, where a circle uses the least amount of plastic per diameter, or something. But maybe a triangle would work!
posted by Hermeowne Grangepurr at 9:11 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


Interestingly, the doodad in the original patent (pictured in the Eater article) is Y-shaped!

There's also some amazing Figs on that pizza patent.
posted by moonmilk at 9:12 AM on January 26 [2 favorites]


Would it lose it power if it weren't round?

In the patent drawing it's shaped like a tri-blade boomerang.

Dix Hills is right around the corner from me, and it looks like others have tried (and failed) to locate the inventor. "Vitale" is a pretty common name, but mob boss Salvatore Vitale also lived in Dix Hills in the 1980s. Maybe a relation? A pseudonym?

The patent lapsed in 1993 when it wasn't renewed. It seems like you'd want to hold onto this, but I suppose if it wasn't being enforced there wouldn't be a point.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:13 AM on January 26 [2 favorites]


I've seen triangular versions of these things
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 9:13 AM on January 26


I had a great calzone the other day. I ate it with knife and fork, so I'm inclined to say its more of a turnover. a pizza turnover. (I'd be more likely to eat a stromboli with my hands, supporting the italian burrito premise) (also I'm from new jersey so my word on this is authoritative!)
posted by supermedusa at 9:15 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


Wiki: A pizza saver or package saver (sometimes referred to as pizza table, pizza Ottoman, or pizza nipple) .

So maybe they're round because nipples are round.
posted by waving at 9:15 AM on January 26


pizza ottoman lol!!!!!
posted by supermedusa at 9:16 AM on January 26 [2 favorites]


There's a pizza place in Portland across the street from our house that makes calzones they have described to me as "the size of a small baby" - it's pretty amazing. They must basically make a full-size pizza then fold it over. I get the small, which is two servings.
posted by aniola at 9:17 AM on January 26


the calzone I had the other day was small baby sized. $15. I had 2 days worth of breakfast and lunch outta that thing!
posted by supermedusa at 9:27 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


Y'all!!!


I'm doing keto, and this is killing me! :-P
posted by darkstar at 9:27 AM on January 26 [3 favorites]


I've always preferred toppings-in sphizzas

Toppings-out sphizza is an abomination... unless you're in zero-g, in which case it's just a pain in the ass to eat.
posted by CynicalKnight at 9:28 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


I have a longstanding dream to 3D print some tiny resin chairs to slyly put onto the table when pizza is delivered.

I want to be that guy.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 9:29 AM on January 26 [14 favorites]


Okay, all thread I've been telling myself "Yes, 'sphizza' reminds you of 'sphincter'. No, you will not be so juvenile as to mention it." But then...


Toppings-out sphizza is an abomination... unless you're in zero-g, in which case it's just a pain in the ass to eat.


Oh, come on!
posted by darkstar at 9:30 AM on January 26 [9 favorites]


the volume of a pizza with radius Z and thickness A is pi*z*z*a
posted by turkeybrain at 9:31 AM on January 26 [37 favorites]


I made some calzones a couple weeks ago. I made just slightly more dough than I usually make for a (maybe 14-inch?) pizza, but somehow it made two enormous calzones.

I ate mine like a sandwich. Because calzones are sandwiches.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:32 AM on January 26


pi*z*z*a


*Mind. Blown.*
posted by darkstar at 9:32 AM on January 26 [2 favorites]


Presumably, the loss of a leg saves some money

Speculation: with three legs, the thing will tolerate discrepancies in leg length without falling over. If you have 4 legs and one is short, it’s more likely to wobble and fall over.
posted by rh at 9:36 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


pi*z*z*a

lim(a→0)pizza = New York pizza
lim(a→∞)pizza = Chicago pizza
posted by moonmilk at 9:39 AM on January 26 [7 favorites]


lim(a→0)crust = New York pizza
lim(a→∞)crust = Chicago pizza
posted by aniola at 9:42 AM on January 26 [2 favorites]


How about: circles have more surface area than triangles for the same amount of overall bounding space. The whole idea here is to support the box top.
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:48 AM on January 26


Yeah, when I used to deliver pizzas many years ago we always called them Barbie tables.

Me, three (plus everyone else driving for the Grand Avenue Green Mill Box Office at the time).
posted by wenestvedt at 9:50 AM on January 26 [2 favorites]


my calzone did not come with a pizza table, and when I left 1/2 a hot calzone in the box on the counter did I come back to find Herbert sitting on said box and squashing the rest of my calzone? yes, reader, I did...
posted by supermedusa at 9:54 AM on January 26 [9 favorites]


You know, if the boxes had a proper airtight seal, you could pressurize them to a couple of atmospheres and they'd resist crushing and most of these other problems without having to stick in a silly little plastic table. Those things aren't free. That's increasing the cost of my pizza right there because someone was too lazy to make a properly pressurized box.
posted by Naberius at 9:57 AM on January 26 [7 favorites]


did I come back to find Herbert sitting on said box

You can't post that and not link to a picture of Herbert, who I am hoping is your next door neighbor or city councilman or something but a cat would be good too
posted by moonmilk at 10:02 AM on January 26 [17 favorites]


Herbert the city councilcat, at rest
posted by supermedusa at 10:04 AM on January 26 [12 favorites]


if the boxes had a proper airtight seal, you could pressurize them to a couple of atmospheres and they'd

burst in transit to the ISS, and be too buoyant for delivery to submarines. It's best to let the pressure equalize.
posted by moonmilk at 10:06 AM on January 26 [7 favorites]


this thread is beautiful i love you all
posted by poffin boffin at 10:10 AM on January 26 [7 favorites]


u fuckin pizza nerds
posted by poffin boffin at 10:11 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


That's increasing the cost of my pizza right there because someone was too lazy to make a properly pressurized box.

Alternate universe where everything is the same except you have to pay a deposit for your first pizza box, but then you can just trade in the empty when you get a new filled one like beer kegs.
posted by solotoro at 10:12 AM on January 26 [9 favorites]


And now this brings me to the Dominos commercial, where the tree falls on the car and the guy drops the pizza box. While this delights my love of pratfalls, I am very confused about the "Pizza Insurance" they advertise. Do you have to pay an extra dollar for pizza insurance? Is the cost already included, and is now a thing? Is this a way for employees not to have to make a judgement call when someone complains about their pizza box? How many people actually need to insure their pizzas? The commercial brings up more questions than answers.
posted by Hermeowne Grangepurr at 10:26 AM on January 26 [5 favorites]


I'm still on my first cup of coffee this morning, but that's 9 pizzas for every person.

I'd like to take a moment to apologize to the 40.5 people who will have to do without any pizzas this year on my account.
posted by dirtdirt at 10:52 AM on January 26 [6 favorites]


Huh. I don't think I've gotten these on my pizzas in years. The last place I lived, the only place that delivered to my apartment was a local "chain" that did some mildly unusual toppings, so I can see that, but here it's Papa John's and they're a big chain.

Or maybe it's that they're only used on the biggest pizza sizes?
posted by inconstant at 10:52 AM on January 26


This reportage is randomly really good
posted by hleehowon at 10:52 AM on January 26


In related furniture news: Check out these white lacquered plywood and maple stools inspired by pizza savers, by sculptor and furniture builder Louis Lim.
posted by D.Billy at 10:54 AM on January 26 [5 favorites]


if the boxes had a proper airtight seal, you could pressurize them to a couple of atmospheres and they'd
burst in transit to the ISS, and be too buoyant for delivery to submarines. It's best to let the pressure equalize.


Oh, horse puckey!

1) The ISS. Atmospheric pressure at sea level is 14.6 pounds per square inch. So if you pressurize the box to, you know what, screw it, lets double it to four atmospheres and send it into space, the box needs to resist internal pressure of 58.4 psi. Even the lowest grade of singlewall corrugated cardboard should resist a burst test at 125 psi (and that's the cheap crap; triple that for the kind of high quality board you should be using for any aerospace application). So if your pizza box bursts in transit to the space station, I'd have a talk with your supplier because he's been screwing you on cardboard.

2) Submarines. The test depth of a Virginia class fast attack submarine is conjectured to be somewhere around 490 meters. Every 10 meters of depth means another atmosphere of pressure, so 49 atmospheres down there, or 715.4 psi. You think that's not going to crush the crap out that cheap plastic barbie table? You bet your ass it is, pal. Flatter than the pizza. There's a reason you don't deliver inside trailer parks, and there's a reason you don't deliver to attack submarines at depth. They want their pizza, they're going to have to surface and meet you for it.
posted by Naberius at 11:05 AM on January 26 [16 favorites]


Those little stools that D.Billy linked to would go very well on a rug like this.
posted by moonmilk at 11:06 AM on January 26 [3 favorites]


Interestingly, the doodad in the original patent (pictured in the Eater article) is Y-shaped!

Maybe those thin arms ended up being too flimsy in practice?
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:28 PM on January 26


I was about to ask what the hell is going on in this thread, but damn it sure smells loud in here. Carry on, weirdos.

Oh, and the one true way to eat a topping-out sphizza is obviously to wear it like a helmet and eat your way out. You just try doing that with a toppings-in sphizza.

Someone better actually make a sphizza, for science. I'm seeing some kind of spherical sphizza stone in which you could drape and form a pizza round over it, or perhaps a two piece mold in which to line with sphizza dough.

Now to instigate yet another endless war: Is sphizza pronounced suh-fee-zuh? Or spa-eats-uh?
posted by loquacious at 1:22 PM on January 26 [4 favorites]


I could swear I’ve seen (maybe I dreamed it) a spherical cookie sheet, so you could bake a batch of brownies that were all from interior slices with no crust.

Come to think of it, that...that had to be a dream...
posted by darkstar at 1:26 PM on January 26 [2 favorites]


And I’m pronouncing it “HWEET’ la KO’ chay”
posted by darkstar at 1:28 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


Here's your solution: spherical cake pans. Drape your pizza over pan, bake, combine 2 halves and eat! (could the cheese and toppings go on the pan side, or would they all slide down during baking? Will be waiting for photos.
posted by Hermeowne Grangepurr at 1:36 PM on January 26


Spherical huitlacoche pizza sounds like a thing that some wacko chef would actually serve...
posted by inconstant at 1:44 PM on January 26 [2 favorites]


"The county won't give me no more provolone/They cut off your welfare check...."
posted by thelonius at 1:53 PM on January 26


> spherical cake pans

Even before you decide where the toppings go, you have to figure out how to ensure the crust keeps its shape.

I'm thinking you'd have to par-cook the dough in halves, remove from forms, and use the crisped edges for structural support. Pour sauce inside and swirl it around to coat the sphizza, and then.. I'm kind of stymied. Toppings don't adhere to pizza crust so I guess you'd just have to fill the sphizza completely with stuff and bake that.
posted by ardgedee at 2:10 PM on January 26


sfee'-tza.
and jif, dammit
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:22 PM on January 26 [3 favorites]


you need a sort of rotisserie set up so the sphizza sphere can rotate at a sufficiently fast rate to engage centripetal force to keep the toppings in place. (for internal) for external...idk, how does one establish gravity?
posted by supermedusa at 3:24 PM on January 26 [3 favorites]


how does one establish gravity?

Eating lots of pizza will do it...
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:57 PM on January 26 [4 favorites]


This indeed the future, and the future is spherical roto-molded zero-g pizza helmets.
posted by loquacious at 4:18 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


supermedusa: tiny singularity at the center of the sphere? pizza seems like a good use for that sort of technology.
posted by flaterik at 4:35 PM on January 26 [3 favorites]


When I was making pizzas in the late 70's, we used plastic shot glasses.
posted by Marky at 5:09 PM on January 26


Square tables would have corners that might poke the cardboard and cause structural issues?
posted by freethefeet at 5:46 PM on January 26


This indeed the future, and the future is spherical roto-molded zero-g pizza helmets.


Well, it’s not a flying car, or plug-and-play replacement body organs, or San Junipero-esque VR...but I’ll take it.
posted by darkstar at 7:27 PM on January 26


Here's your solution: spherical cake pans.

Those are hemispheres.

you need a sort of rotisserie set up so the sphizza sphere can rotate at a sufficiently fast rate to engage centripetal force to keep the toppings in place.

Your toppings, and I use the word with some degree of imprecision, would slump to the bottom and then form a paraboloid like when they make big telescope mirrors.

For a toppings-in hollow spherical shell pizza, you need to suspend your hollow sphere pan in a double gimble apparatus, like with naval compasses. Only then you would rotate both axes in some manner like a lissajous figure to hopefully prevent slumping. Unlike a naval compass, and perhaps more like the Voskhod Spacecraft "Globus" IMP navigation instrument.

For a toppings-out hollow spherical shell pizza, you'd probably want to fire two tennis-ball like halves at your target spherical pan, and then that drop down a sort of shot-tower/vertical furnace.

Simplest, really, is to tie up all the ingredients in a cloth and steam it.
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:59 PM on January 26 [3 favorites]


Simplest, really, is to tie up all the ingredients in a cloth and steam it.

Sphizzahaggis? What have you done!?

I've been thinking way too much about this, and the solution is obviously a dangerously high energy device that is one part 3-axis rotocasting machine and one part high temperature radiant heat salamander and 1 part high voltage and amperage slip rings.

This sphizza oven would have a heated spherical baking element and structure, within which is an electrical heating element to toast the toppings and cheese.

The sphizza baking process involves placing the dough rounds or segments on a form which quickly transfers the dough to the spherical preheated baking structure and element, like a 3-dimensional pizza peel and inside-out pizza stone.

Upon closure or assembly of this element, it begins rotating at an appropriate speed on all three axis to get it to centrifugally conform to the inside of the structure, not unlike rotomolding plastics, just at a much higher speed and shorter duration.

The toppings are loaded into a combination of hoppers in this complicated rotocasting sphizza oven above the rapidly rotating sphere. Tomato sauce goes in one feed hopper. Shredded cheese in another. Maybe one each for veggies and proteins.

These hoppers feed and mix the ingredients into the spherical and rapidly rotating sphizza oven by timing dispensing doses through a port in the rotating sphere. Sauce goes in first, then the dosing of the rest of the ingredients can be timed and intermixed for best structural support.

Precisely toasted cheese and toppings could be tailored both for flavor and structure. Heating elements on either side of the sphere can be computer controlled for optimal results.

This entire process could be reversed for a toppings-out sphizza.

Further, this device could be used to bake spherical pies, cakes, brownies, quiches, frittatas and a wide variety of other baked goods normally cooked in 2-dimensional pans.

Come on. You know you want a brownie helmet.
posted by loquacious at 12:30 AM on January 27 [3 favorites]


That works well for toppings-in.

But, I think for the best toppings-out pizza, to make the pizza seamless, you really want a metal sphere that is smooth on the surface, with magnets inside it, so that the whole thing can be levitated in a magnetic field, and rotated in all directions by using a fluctuating EM field controlled by microprocessors elsewhere in the oven.

The magnetically levitated sphere itself could be perfectly smooth, with no seams or anchor points.

Then, you have nozzles directly above the sphere holding different ingredients. As the whole environment was heated to baking temperature, the sphere begins the rotation sequence. A nozzle dispenses a specially engineered dough mixture onto the surface of the sphere. The dough mixture, temperature, and rotation speed are all set so that the dough can begin to adhere to the sphere surface by the time the sphere rotates.

As the dough is deposited and begins to cook and firm up, the same deposition cycle occurs with a sauce and then a cheese cycle.

When the ingredients have been all deposited, the sphere continues to rotate in the heated oven so that no ingredient spends much time facing down, to minimize topping integrity failure.

When the sphizza is cooked, a magnetized tray in the bottom of the oven pulls out, so the whole sphizza sphere can be removed, and taken to the table while still levitated. Controls in the tray allow the sphere to be rotated so that slices can be removed as needed. The dough has been engineered to adhere slightly to the sphere after cooking, so when you remove one slice, the rest of the sphizza doesn’t just slough off of the sphere.

I will need approximately $24 million in grant funding to make this happen. We can do this by Kickstarter and you can soon have your seamless toppings-out, electronically controlled, maglev 3-axis gimbaled, spherical cooking substrate, with heat-resistant magnet technology and engineered dough sphizza.
posted by darkstar at 7:27 AM on January 27 [5 favorites]


Alternately, the sphere could be coated with a weak adhesive, sort of an edible Post-It Note glue, so the sphizza sticks to it slightly, but the slices can easily be peeled off.

(The adhesive would also be helpful when trying to eat a stack of pancakes in zero-G, by adhering them slightly to the plate and each other until eaten.)
posted by darkstar at 7:34 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


The obligatory New Yorker cartoon
posted by javelina at 8:10 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


The little round table accommodates more pizza spirits, than the triangular prototype, though potentially it would have used less plastic.
posted by Oyéah at 12:10 PM on January 27


> The magnetically levitated sphere itself could be perfectly smooth, with no seams or anchor points.

This is probably unnecessary; A flat pizza has a texture on the underside that does not necessarily correspond to the texture of the surface on which it was baked, so the sphere can have a rough texture for adhesion before baking, without necessarily imprinting a pattern onto the finished product.
posted by ardgedee at 1:20 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


Toppings don't adhere to pizza crust so I guess you'd just have to fill the sphizza completely with stuff and bake that.

I'm no physicist, but couldn't you just make a spherical pizza...pie?

spherical pizza pies ≠ calazones
posted by BlueHorse at 1:34 PM on January 27 [2 favorites]


I'm no physicist, but couldn't you just make a spherical pizza...pie?

Yes-ish. But then it would slump into a container.

Chicago-style pizza, in other words.
posted by sebastienbailard at 2:25 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


Alternately, the sphere could be coated with a weak adhesive, sort of an edible Post-It Note glue, so the sphizza sticks to it slightly, but the slices can easily be peeled off.

(The adhesive would also be helpful when trying to eat a stack of pancakes in zero-G, by adhering them slightly to the plate and each other until eaten.)


Snopes.com:
Claim:

When NASA first started sending up astronauts, they quickly discovered that pancackes would not work in zero gravity. To combat the problem, NASA scientists spent a decade and $12 billion to develop a pancake that adheres to the plate in zero gravity, upside down, underwater, on almost any surface, and at temperatures ranging from below freezing to 300 degrees Celsius.

The Canadians used maple syrup.
posted by sebastienbailard at 2:31 PM on January 27 [2 favorites]


Dammit, so much for my follow-up grant application!

Perhaps we could just market maple syrup under a new label, as “a specially engineered, disaccharide-based, reversibly viscoelastic, culinary adhesive of unique rheological properties.”
posted by darkstar at 2:52 PM on January 27


In order to create a spherical pizza, NASA spent a decade and $12 billion to develop a magnetically-stabilized microgravity pizza oven.

The Russians stuck a straw in a piroshki and inflated it.
posted by moonmilk at 4:07 PM on January 27 [4 favorites]


It’s not a pizza saver, it’s a Barbie table!

It's an RPG accessory to indicate that your miniature figurine is in fact flying.

I'm doing keto, and this is killing me! :-P

Keto Pizza with a cauliflower crust. I am Prometheus--I bring you fire!
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:53 PM on January 28 [2 favorites]


Back in the day, before these things were in common use, my local pizzeria would cook their pizzas with a little ball of pizza dough in the middle. The dough-ball served the same purpose of keeping the lid from touching the sticky parts, with the added advantage of being edible and tasty. The pizza saver just solved the problem more cheaply.
posted by cardboard at 6:38 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]


calzones they have described to me as "the size of a small baby"

I used to describe the half cheesesteaks from Trio's in DC as the size of a baby's head.
posted by slogger at 2:09 PM on January 29


I used to describe the half cheesesteaks from Trio's in DC as the size of a baby's head.

There's a place down the street with burritos the size of a legless cat.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 5:29 PM on January 29 [1 favorite]


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