Genius of the Pizza


In case you haven’t noticed, I really like pizza- and I’m not alone. Pizza is so popular that even our government keeps tabs on it. Last year the USDA presented its “Dietary Data Brief No. 11” to highlight America’s pizza consumption habits. Who says the government wastes time and money on silly projects?  (I’m only halfway joking here- Pizza is very important to our economy!)

One of the findings was that 1 in 8 Americans consumed pizza on any given day.  If you think that is a lot, how about the fact that 1 in 4 males ages 6-19 consume pizza on a given day.   A young man who is near and dear to my heart  helped bring that average up by eating pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner some days during his upbringing. He has recently left the 6-19 age group but is still attending college so I’m confident that his pizza eating days are far from over- and why should they be? It really is the smartest food ever invented.

Why do college students love pizza so much-apart from the fact that it goes so good with beer?  They love it because it is practical. I like to talk about the 3 Cs when it comes to pizza. Convenience, Complexity and Common Sense. Those three attributes are part of the genius of a pizza.

Can a product that is consumed in huge amounts in fraternity houses across the country be considered genius?  You better belive it! Just think about it.  It’s a PLATE made out of dough! OK- you might say, “Well Olive- there are lots of things made out of edible plates.  How about pies? What about pancakes?” Those items are nice and fine, but syrup and cherry filling do not exactly add up to a meal. The pizza plate has everything that you need on it. Veggies, dairy, and meat (or if you prefer- something resembling meat that didn’t die a senseless death for the sake of a pizza… whatever…)

Before pizza was invented, those poor fraternity brothers had to actually work for a balanced meal. It was very time consuming! Find a loaf of bread, cut the mold off of the cheese and search through the refrigerator for a meat product. And vegetables?  Are you kidding?  It just wasn’t going to happen. Now, all mothers who send their young men (and women) off to college can be certain that they will be getting their vegetables. This is because the first layer on that plate made out of dough is most likely TOMATO sauce!  What’s even more genius about a pizza is that the veggie part of it is hidden.  An edible plate that conceals a vegetable with meat and cheese on top. Definietly genius.

To all of you smarty-pants readers out there that are murmuring to themselves, “A tomato is a fruit not a vegetable.” I have news for you- the USDA  lumps together fruits AND veggies in its “Dietary Guidelines” and furthermore, if you examine the USDA food pyramid- what do you see in the vegetable group?  That’s right. A TOMATO. Look closely.


Speaking of the food pyramid- please take note that the structure of the food pyramid is pretty darn close to that of a pizza. Bread at the bottom, veggies next and then your cheese and meat.  Coincidence?  You decide.

That’s the common sense part of the pizza equation. The entire food pyramid in one place- on one plate!  Which brings me back to the convenience part of the pizza equation. That plate made out of dough is so handy- and not just for college kids.  What about when you have just moved and can’t find your dishes? Pizza. Maybe your power is out and you can’t wash utensils? Pizza. How about any occasion that you can think of where you want easy eating, easy preparation and easy clean up. Pizza. Pizza. Pizza. Check.

The last part of the pizza equation that I would like to address today is complexity. Pizza does not ever have to be boring. If you take all of the different combinations of sauce, cheese and other toppings, the results are endless. Ever tried a pizza topped with chipotle pesto sauce with all sorts spicy meats and cashews to top it off? If you haven’t you should because it is an amazing experience! Pizza is a vehicle for all things gourmet and complex. Pizza is complex because it is many different parts woven together to make a wonderful union of scrumptious. It is complex because  is there are so many combinations that are available; and finally it is complex because it links all of the other attributes I have mentioned such as convenience and common sense.

Why do some people never tire of pizza; even after eating for breakfast, lunch and dinner for decades?  For one simple reason: It’s the only food product that can truly be called GENIUS.

Ciao for now


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