Wednesday, March 01, 2006

pienite resource

The first recorded pizza delivery took place in Western Europe in 1889; probably in the evening. Raffaele Esposito delivered the dish to the King and Queen of Savoy. This is a bit of a stretch though as the tavern owner didn’t follow present protocol. He brought the ingredients with him to the palace and prepared it on site. Pizza delivery didn’t take off until the end of World War II as American servicemen returned home and brought with them a craving for the Italian dish. Pizza cooks fast and is easy to make. It’s flat and simple to transport. Add in the extremely low cost of fuel at the time and a sense of increased convenience post WWII as reimbursement for service overseas and you’ve got all the ingredients necessary for a revolution in the food service industry.

The process is rather simple. The customer phones the local pizzeria from home or office and orders a particular number of pizzas selecting size and ingredients. The caller provides an address and the restaurateur sends a driver to the location. The practice caught on quickly and before we knew it pizza delivery was common place.

The idea of pizza delivery entered our culture and created a universe all its own. The ubiquitous pizza box followed as a form of protection for the food as did the development of protective bags first insulated and later heated using electricity. Local establishments mingled among the chain stores that sprung up and all sorts of advertising campaigns developed around the process of providing pizza to your doorstep. Who in the United States could forget the Noid, that demon of Domino’s Pizza always trying to undermine delivery?

“Avoid the Noid” we were warned. Today the Noid has his own webpage and you can buy your own bendable doll online. Speed wars ensued as pizza parlous guaranteed swift service, some promising “Delivery in 30 minutes or it’s free.” Americans everywhere ordered and then watched the clock. Illuminated signs on delivery vehicles advertised the latest crazes in pizza modification- stuffed crust pizza- “Eat it backwards.” The custom of tipping for delivery developed and the driver himself was established as icon of minor, minimum-wage slackness with the ultimate in unreal jobs. Stories about pizza delivery boys being robbed, beaten and killed were watched on the evening news by families enjoying there very own recently delivered pizza. News organizations have even admitted to keeping an eye on specific pizza shops that service specific governmental organizations known for ordering out just before a big event keeps staff in the office overnight. It has been reported that a massive order of pizzas just before the first gulf war let that cat out of the bag a bit early. You can find examples of this mainstay of American culture in books on T.V. and in film. Pizza delivery is more American than apple pie. That's why I was so surprised last week to be offered this.

It’s a carryout club membership card for a program that offers to buy me one free pizza after I order five times. The catch is I have to transport my own pizza. Apparently it now makes more economic sense for Papa John’s Pizza to give away one out of every six pizzas I purchase than for the company to deliver them to my door. Papa’s story is described like this.
As a high school student working at a local pizza pub in Jeffersonville, Indiana, Papa John's founder John Schnatter realized that there was something missing from national pizza chains: a superior-quality traditional pizza delivered to the customer's door. His dream was to one day open a pizza restaurant that would fill that void. Now he wants me to come pick up my own.

I am big a fan of “pointing out the myriad signposts dotting the landscape along this highway to hell”, as Steve Lagavulin recently put it. I listened curiously as our oilman turned president publicly admitted in his 2006 State of the Union Address that “America is addicted to oil.” I keep an eye on the global oil production figures provided by the IEA with comment courtesy of The Oil Drum. I am as interested as any in the staggering depletion rate of North Seas oil compliments of the tremendous technological advances that are suppose to save us. If you really want verification however that the end of the oil age is coming, call your local pizza shop. The proof is in the pie. The end of delivery is nigh.

1 comment:

Revolutionary Blogger said...

Great article!