The Year In Pizza.
January 6, 2003 4:45 PM   Subscribe

The Year In Pizza is a review of the happenings in one of the worst years ever for the pizza industry; what's touching, and quirky about this corporate industry wrap up is the inclusion of brief memorials for pizza murder victims, those workers slain by hungry robbers for whatever little cash they had on them. It's hard to imagine a "year in printing & bindery" review listing all the victims of industrial press manglings.
posted by jonson (34 comments total)
In that context, it's an unfortunate choice of metaphor to begin their survey: "Ongoing bloodletting from the endless price war..."
posted by languagehat at 4:51 PM on January 6, 2003

"* Deadly driving: A Muskegon, Mich., pizza-delivery driver is charged with negligent homicide in a May 29 crash that killed a West Olive, Mich., couple. Driver Michael John Beyrle, 23, ran through a stop sign and crashed into the car of Robert and Julie Dirkse, which collided with a utility pole and caught fire."

but was the pizza delivered on time?
posted by quonsar at 5:01 PM on January 6, 2003

This is a truly fascinating link. Much better than Dave Barry's Year in Review.

I like the sinkhole and the yeast problem:

* Hole lot of trouble: Charlotte, N.C. pizza delivery driver David Miller and his car are swallowed up by a sinkhole while stopped at a red light on the way to work. The sinkhole results from a faulty 48-inch water main being installed beneath the road.

* Doh! Dough! Yeast-filled pizza dough in the back of an unrefrigerated 18-wheeler expands and breaks out the back of the truck to create a 30-mile gooey traffic hazard in upstate Chippewa Falls, Wis. Three hours’ work by snowplows, shovels and pitchforks are required to remove the blown dough.

posted by LeLiLo at 5:19 PM on January 6, 2003

Lelilo - I know, those were my two favorites as well; no mention of whether the N.C. driver died in the sinkhole accident, but the pizza dough incident reminded me of the great Boston Molasses Flood.
posted by jonson at 5:29 PM on January 6, 2003

They left out the account of this memorable incident with a pizza truck.

I sat on the edge of the van and removed the tin foil from the lasagna tray. I peeled the foil back slowly, carefully, revealing the hot pleasures within.
posted by Wet Spot at 5:30 PM on January 6, 2003

but was the pizza delivered on time?

cops ate it.
As someone who has done this job, "packing" is a must in high crime areas. Having someone ride shotgun helps. What helps is unpredictable comfort. I think this is why they use the "pizza guy" for law enforcement entry scenarios in the movies. One sees alot. My favorite little meme is about 4 different customers who tried to pass the SAME bad check. We called it "the traveling utter and publish plan".
posted by clavdivs at 5:34 PM on January 6, 2003

stopped at a red light on the way to work . . . cops ate it.

That's life, isn't it, jonson, people always leave out the info we really want. As I read this, the guy wasn't even delivering pizzas at the time, he was just going in to get some pizzas to deliver. So (even assuming the sinkhole didn't kill him) there still wouldn't have been anything for him and the cops, when they came to investigate, to scrounge.
posted by LeLiLo at 5:47 PM on January 6, 2003

Wow. I delivered pizza for 2 years and always felt relatively safe. Only on one occasion did I feel the need to bring along another driver. Someone called, ordered 4 pizzas, and when I got there there was no house at that address, just an empty lot. Went back to the store (no cell phones affordable by pizza drivers back then), they called and said "Where is our pizza?" and told us they had given us the wrong address. We figured it was a cheap pizza scam (this was in the days when Domino's gave $3 discounts for late pizzas), and I drove back to the new address, this time with a male driver along for safety. This address belonged to an elderly couple who had not ordered pizza. So we took the four pizzas, kind of cold by now, straight to the local fire department and gave them to some happy firemen for free. The scammers never called back.

I never ever was armed and never felt in danger -- and that's speaking as a 5'2" female. If you have to work a crappy food service job, that's one of the best ones because you spend most of your time away from the store, driving around listening to tunes on the stereo.

There are neighborhoods in Seattle where I would not take that job, though. I delivered in a section of town that was relatively nice: View Ridge/Wedgwood/Laurelhurst/Ravenna etc. (One of my co-workers delivered to Bill Gates when he still lived in Laurelhurst. Said he didn't tip well. When I delivered to the rich folks down there on Webster Point I discovered that NONE of them did. Best tip I ever got was $13 from a drunk guy in Wedgwood.) Sometimes it amazes me that I wasn't more fearful than I was.
posted by litlnemo at 5:50 PM on January 6, 2003

I forgot to add the most dangerous experience of my pizza experience, though... sliding down an ice-covered north-facing slope and taking out a mailbox. (This was probably early 1989, during February when we had snow on the ground for a couple of weeks, which is unusual in Seattle. The top layer would melt during the day and then freeze over at night. BAD ice.) Well, it would have been dangerous had there been anything other than a mailbox in the way. I had no control whatsoever. The street I had been on before was drivable, but then I turned on to this other street, hit the ice, and .... whoosh, right down the hill. There was a major arterial cross street at the bottom and I was thinking that I was going to slide right into it, but I pulled to the right and hit the mailbox instead.

I got out, propped up the mailbox as best I could, and managed to get the car out of there with more control (since I was now at the bottom of the slope). I went back to the store and told the manager "we are closing delivery to non-arterials NOW." And he did.

That same week I also bumped a parked car in a similar circumstance, but when I got out to look there was no damage at all. Seattle hills + ice + pizza delivery = not a good combination.

Pretty mild, though, compared to the drivers who have been robbed, shot, etc.
posted by litlnemo at 6:01 PM on January 6, 2003

Mmm, glad to see that Nick and Willy's is growing. I eat there all the time when business takes me to Denver. They've got some intense (perhaps even adventurous) veggie offerings that keep me coming back, and they do serve slices hot!
posted by NortonDC at 7:41 PM on January 6, 2003

Check out The Idiot List where a guy details the best stories from his time at a 2-for-1 pizza place. Funny stuff!
posted by Jaybo at 7:47 PM on January 6, 2003

Does local pizza beyond NYC taste like local NYC pizza? I only ask in an attempt to understand how the odious corporate pizzas not only survive, but thrive.
posted by ParisParamus at 7:50 PM on January 6, 2003

I worked at a Pizza Hut for 7 years: From just after my 16th birthday, through high school and college, until I'd started a business and just didn't have time to do it any more. Some people hate working in restaurants, but I really enjoyed the melodrama and the relatively easy money.

I never felt the need to pack anything more dangerous than a 4-D-cell maglite. Not that you couldn't do a lot of damage with such a flashlight, mind you.
posted by subgenius at 8:28 PM on January 6, 2003

Does local pizza beyond NYC taste like local NYC pizza? I only ask in an attempt to understand how the odious corporate pizzas not only survive, but thrive.

fyi: i've managed a domino's like pizza place, and delivered/worked in others.

parisparamus: the state of pizza outside of nyc is quite the mixed bag. when you are talking about delivery pizza, the national brands, domino's, papa john's pizza hut, are all atrocious. that is to be expected for chains of course, but the price wars the article talks about have resulted in a very poor product delivered to your door.

local pizza joints have gotten much better over the last ten years. you can often find an upscale place or two in any mid-size town. being able to something with feta cheese, or mandarin oranges is a big step up here in fly over country. but those type of places aren't as likely to deliver.

and finding pizza by the slice is very difficult.
posted by lescour at 8:32 PM on January 6, 2003

and for those fallen in the line of (crappy job) duty, my heartfelt condolences. i've been robbed, but never threatened with my life. several of my friends were assaulted. it can be a dangerous job.

don't forget to tip your driver well, mefi'ers.
posted by lescour at 8:41 PM on January 6, 2003

I once had some very good Pizza at a Pizza Hut. But it was in St. Maur, just southeast of Paris, right under the RER Station.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:49 PM on January 6, 2003

so you're near Paris and you go to a Pizza Hut? I take it you left the Michelin Red Guide in the car?
posted by Vidiot at 9:05 PM on January 6, 2003

No. My hot Polish-French former model girlfriend lived down the street, and it was "culturally entertaining" to go there.
Got it?
posted by ParisParamus at 9:11 PM on January 6, 2003

Was she a "former" model because she ate too much junk food?
posted by Spacelegoman at 11:15 PM on January 6, 2003

They trade cheddar cheese on the mercantile exchange?
posted by charlesv at 4:47 AM on January 7, 2003

There is no real pizza south of Philadelphia. *sob*
posted by JoanArkham at 5:20 AM on January 7, 2003

Au contraire! The best pizza I've ever had (not counting the labor-intensive pie from my own ovens) can be found right here in Raleigh. Lily's Pizza. The crust is fabulous and the amount of toppings they carry is mind-boggling. Far, far better than anything that ever came out of Wolfgang Puck's little mind.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:35 AM on January 7, 2003

So what's so special about NYC pizza? Not to get into another one of those debates but I'd take Chicago Deep-dish pizza over any other kind any time.
posted by gyc at 7:16 AM on January 7, 2003

Deep dish RULES. That's what you get in Milwaukee if you go to a REAL pizzeria a/o/t a national chain.

Sadly, if you want d/d down here in South Carolina, you make it yourself. Mine tends to come out like pastaless lasagna, though.
posted by alumshubby at 7:36 AM on January 7, 2003

I know what you mean alumshubby. You just cannot get good bread or bread type products (the crust) down here. I was born in Philly and have lived in both NYC and just cannot get the folks down here to understand there is a big difference. I think its the cornbread that has severely inhibited thier ability to enjoy yeast.
posted by SweetIceT at 8:06 AM on January 7, 2003

Lily's! Love it! Thanks, SLoG. I now live in NYC and have had some good, but not in the least phenomenal, nor eye-opening pizza. It took a trip to Pizzeria Due in Chicago to do that.

I hear it's good at Pepe's in New Haven, CT, but haven't ventured out there yet.
posted by Vidiot at 8:10 AM on January 7, 2003

I like Chicago-style, California Pizza Kitchen, goat cheese pizza and BBQ chicken pizza. But it's not, you know, pizza. When I crave pizza, I want a slice. Thin crust, floppy, greasy, equal amounts of sauce and cheese...aaahhhhh...
posted by JoanArkham at 8:12 AM on January 7, 2003

exactly, JoanArkham. nothing that needs to be eaten with a knife and fork.

and it has to leave oily orange stains on my paper plate.
posted by goddam at 9:05 AM on January 7, 2003

gyc, almshubby: Nothing against deep-dish, but it's a local variant that doesn't have much to do with "real" (East Coast) pizza. Which is fine—East Coast pizza doesn't have much to do with "real" Neapolitan pizza either—but there's no point ranking them on the same scale. There are only two true centers of East Coast pizza, NYC and New Haven, and I still prefer the latter though I rarely get a chance to eat it.

There is no real pizza south of Philadelphia.

Ah, but there is—way, way south of Philly. The very best pizza I've had (unless my decades-old memory betrays me) was in Buenos Aires, something like a third of whose population is of Italian descent.
posted by languagehat at 1:06 PM on January 7, 2003

Ooh, believe it or not I have had wonderful pizza in BA. With a side of empenadas, no less. But it's still not NYC style...probably too "authentic".
posted by JoanArkham at 1:51 PM on January 7, 2003

I don't know what's so "real" about NYC pizza. I don't think I'd find that style of pizza anywhere in Italy. Oh and there's no reason to eat deep-dish pizza with a knife and fork.
posted by gyc at 6:41 PM on January 7, 2003

GYC: I didn't intend to cast aspersions on the hinterlands :)

But NYC probably has the smallest penetration (some might say, RAPE) of corporate pizza.
posted by ParisParamus at 7:13 PM on January 7, 2003

NYC has nothing on Pizza Oven in Niagara Falls, NY. It's a tiny hole in the wall joint that closes for part of the summer, but, has the best pizza on the planet.

It's takeout only and cheap as hell.

Beside my family, it's the only thing I miss about Niagara Falls.
posted by SuzySmith at 9:11 AM on January 8, 2003

There's also Santa's Pizzeria, in Wayne, New Jersey. But I think it's only open during the holidays.
posted by LeLiLo at 10:52 PM on January 8, 2003

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