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Posted in: Film and Television, Food ♦ Monday, June 21st, 2010, 11:34 PM ♦ No Comments

The Problem with Pizza. I love pizza and I hate pizza. Pizza is a weirdly fascinating, yet troubled foodstuff. The problem is rooted in the reverence that pizza has achieved. If pizza was a person, it would be a well liked politician running independently for president, neither republican nor democrat, only revealing it’s true political opinions when bitten. Pizza isn’t quite Ron Paul or Kinky Friedman, pizza is Futurama Presidential Candidate John Jackson (or his clone Jack Johnson) seen here in this episode (There’s no need to watch this episode of Futurama as has little relevance to this post. However, it is a funny episode, it’s online, and it’s free. Also, Futurama returns to T.V. this week!).
When you think about it, pizza is the end result of history. If we learned anything from The Lion King, it is that life on earth is a cycle; A series of evolutionary steps resulting in a food chain. If humans are at the top of the food chain and you accept that across most of the planet, most human’s favorite food is pizza, then in truth pizza is the first link in the food chain below mankind. Therefore, if there was some sort of mystical pizza that became sentient and powerful (possibly a gangster like Pizza the Hutt), it would be mankind’s mortal enemy. Look forward to Michael Bay’s adaptation of this blog post in “Pizzaformers: More than meets the pie” coming in 2012.

Because of these aspects, pizza has the ability to be the most disappointing food you can consume. When the perfect food ends up tasting not so perfect, then it has failed to meet its exceedingly high expectations as a universal favorite. There are many reasons for this, some of which include: toppings (both in variety and quality), crust (quality, and thickness), and preparation (oven type, deep dish, hand tossed, etc.). However, the biggest variable to the enjoyment of pizza is of course personal preference. My preference is a Little Caesars pepperoni pizza, But typically, any decent pepperoni pizza will do.Some might say what is pizza? Can you really put Little Caesars into the same category as California Pizza Kitchen, or perhaps some other gourmet pizza place? The term “pizza” has such a breadth that it can be applied to wildly different meals. Permit me to elaborate. I love the taste of a crust topped with a tangy tomato sauce, cheese, and pepperoni. However, a crust topped with alfredo sauce, cheese, and broccoli could be described as pizza as well (not my preference, but I’ve seen people eat it). On occasion, I might like pineapple and ham in lieu of pepperoni. Sometimes I like spicy Thai chicken in lieu of pepperoni and barbecue sauce in lieu of tomato sauce. Sometimes I like the addition of bell peppers. So, what am I saying? I love Pizza, right? No, I love MY pizza. But what is a pizza? It’s a communal food.

Have you ever watched pets become suddenly territorial when it comes time to feed them? Two dogs who normally get along will snap and growl at each other when food is available.The same instinct occurs in people, although it is usually suppressed in society. The reason that it is suppressed is because we all were raised watching Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street and told that sharing was what a good person does.You see? There is Sesame Street purging the instinctual animal from youngsters minds and instilling them with a sense of empathy. That’s all well and good if we want a society and would prefer not to live in Thunderdome. Nevertheless, our genetics are undeniable. That sense of territoriality still resides within us. So I say again, what is Pizza? Pizza is the ultimate conflict between civilization and anarchy.

Hypothetical scenario 1: You have a group of friends over to your house. You offer to purchase a pizza. There is no concrete consensus on the toppings, so you order something that should have broad appeal, most commonly a pepperoni pizza. This action provides no ultimate satisfaction. You, as the buyer of the pizza feel empathy for those who did not get what they wanted and simultaneously feel anger for their lack of gratitude. The friends who wanted pepperoni are instinctively disappointed because their animal instincts want to claim their favorite topping for themselves. The people who didn’t want pepperoni are conflicted because they are grateful for the free food, but in a world where choice exists, they could have had exactly what they wanted if only more people preferred their topping of choice. Scenario 1 results in mutual disappointment for everybody.

Hypothetical scenario 2: You have a group of friends over to your house. You offer to purchase several pizzas in an effort to satisfy everybody. A variety of pizzas are ordered. A meat lovers, pepperoni, veggie, the works, mushroom, and one with a bunch of crazy ass toppings that would not ordinarily appeal to anybody. What happens? Once again, in a world of choice, the people who enjoy variety consume slices not only from the works pizza, but from all of the other pizzas as well, the vegetarian person satiates their meager appetite with a single slice of the veggie pizza. The dude who actually only wants pepperoni is screwed because his preference is the lowest common denominator of pizzas. Everybody has a slice of the pepperoni, leaving him with 1 or two slices and no possibility of leftover pizza the next morning. When all is said and done, there are a bunch of veggie pizzas left that nobody wants, and those who are still hungry have to resort to picking off the toppings that they hate and then apprehensively biting into a cold slice that undoubtedly hides the foreign texture of a hunk of broccoli or a cold stringy onion. Meanwhile, the purchaser of the pizzas notes how wasteful it was to have paid for multiple pizzas when the veggie pizzas have gone relatively untouched. The only people who come out ahead are the human garbage disposals who would have been satisfied with a brick of cheese and rice. Unfortunately, they typically are not the type to feel empathy.

Now these are just two simple straightforward examples of group pizza consumption that are rife with conflict and dissatisfaction. Factor in the different vendors of pizza, pizza size, crust texture and thickness, and all other variables and you have no multilateral dining option.

The only perfect solution is that each and every person purchases their own pizza(s) and sharing is only permitted when offered by the purchasing party. But is that what Pizza stands for? No. Modern pizza represents the fading ideals of America the great melting pot, where nobody is a hyphenated American, everybody is simply American. We live in an age of individuality. A round disk of variety will no longer satisfy everybody at the table. We know that there is something out there that will satisfy our tastes precisely, and we are damned if we don’t get exactly what we want.

Personally, I am of the opinion that if I was banished to a world where the only pizza that existed was a Little Caesars pepperoni, I’d be satisfied. Hell, they’re only five dollars. Pepperoni seems to be everybody’s favorite. Just find out who the vegetarians are, find out exactly how large their appetite is, buy them a cheese pizza, and then buy a pile of nothing but pepperoni pizzas, eliminate choice, and watch how humans, in a world of no options, happily consume pepperoni.

When all is said and done, my favorite food is actually french fries. But I rarely eat them because my face turns into a minefield and I have to work twice as hard to burn off the calories. On a completely unrelated topic, here is part two of my Pulp Fiction chronological edit.

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