(Roughly) Daily

“You can’t go wrong with pizza, unless it’s terrible pizza”*…

(Roughly) Daily has considered the pizza box before (see, e.g., here and here); but Saahil Desai does a deep dive… and the results aren’t pretty…

Pizza delivery, it turns out, is based on a fundamental lie. The most iconic delivery food of all time is bad at surviving delivery, and the pizza box is to blame. “I don’t like putting any pizza in a box,” Andrew Bellucci, a legendary New York City pizza maker of Andrew Bellucci’s Pizzeria, told me. “That’s just it, really. The pizza degrades as soon as it goes inside,” turning into a swampy mess.

A pizza box has one job—keeping a pie warm and crispy during its trip from the shop to your house—and it can’t really do it. The fancier the pizza, the worse the results: A slab of overbaked Domino’s will probably be at least semi-close to whatever its version of perfect is by the time it reaches your door, but a pizza with fresh mozzarella cooked at upwards of 900 degrees? Forget it. Sliding a $40 pie into a pizza box is the packaging equivalent of parking a Lamborghini in a wooden shed before a hurricane.

The basic issue is this: A fresh pizza spews steam as it cools down. A box traps that moisture, suspending the pie in its own personal sauna. After just five minutes, Wiener said, the pie’s edges become flaccid and chewy. Sauce seeps into the crust, making it soggy. All the while, your pizza is quickly losing heat. After 15 minutes, the cheese has congealed into dollops of rubber. And after 45 minutes, your pizza deteriorates into something else entirely…

The painful present and the possible future of a delivery icon that hasn’t changed for 60 years: “You Don’t Know How Bad the Pizza Box Is,” from @Saahil_Desai in @TheAtlantic.

One answer is to consume one’s pizza at the point of purchase. Liam Quigley (@_elkue), a reporter in NYC, has made that a habit– and he’s kept notes. Starting in 2014, he logged every slice that he ate– type (e.g., “plain,” “pepperoni”) and price– 464 in all.

* Andy Kindler


As we reach for the red pepper flakes, we might note that today was an important day in the history of food packaging: George Palmer was born on this date in 1818. The proprietor of Huntley and Palmers biscuit manufacturers (in Reading, England), he introduced the first biscuit tin in 1831.


Written by (Roughly) Daily

January 18, 2023 at 1:00 am

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