Pizza History Week: The man who ate nothing but pizza for 25 years

I’ve never met Maryland native Dan Janssen, but if our paths ever cross, I would buy him a pie. The 40-year-old became a global legend two years ago when his buddy Justin revealed that he’s been living off nothing but pizza for the past 25 years. And we’re not talking two slices and the bill, either. “I usually eat an entire 14″ pizza, and I only eat cheese pizza,” Janssen told Vice. “I never get sick of it. If I go to one pizza shop or another brand, it’s like eating a completely different meal.” Not to mention that you won’t be recognized as the guy who just ate a whole cheese pizza at lunchtime.

Waitaminnit, cheese pizza!? Turns out that Dan’s a vegetarian—he stopped eating meat in high school for “ethical reasons.” But the dude doesn’t like vegetables, either. “Nothing to me tastes as good as pizza,” he told the Baltimore Sun. “Why should I eat a carrot when I can eat pizza?” I can totally relate, bro! Why should I eat broccoli when I can eat a Baconator!?

Thing is, Dan’s pizza-only diet supposedly isn’t great for his health. Vice says “When his blood sugar dips into the danger zone, it sometimes results in his blacking out on the kitchen floor in his underwear with frozen food scattered around him.” But hey, that may or may not have happened to me last weekend. And a so-called Canadian food expert says “In cheese pizza, we can see there’s some of the food groups represented theoretically. But if we really break that down and think about the quality of ingredients and the amount of nutrients that they’re providing, it wouldn’t hold up to a home cooked meal.” Unless, of course, that home-cooked meal is a double-down Buffalo chicken burger dinner!

But while Dan’s buddies wonder how he’s even still alive, he’ll always be a hero in my books. This slice is for you, dude!

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Pizza History Week: The cheese price crash of 2013

(Originally written May 3, 2013)

We might not be able to watch it being made on a webcam, but Canadians could soon be paying less for pizza, as early as next month.  The CBC is reporting that “A ruling made this week by the Canadian Dairy Commission could soon allow Canadian restaurants to buy deeply discounted mozzarella cheese.”  And since mozza is the main ingredient in pizza, that’s amore to my ears!

Acknowledging that pizza is part of the five essential food groups (along with chicken wings, nachos, steak and beer), the CDC has given mozzarella its own special category, dropping protectionist practices that drove its prices through the roof.  According to the CBC, “The new class, to take effect June 1, is expected to result in lower costs for Canadian-made mozzarella for restaurants that prepare and cook pizzas on site.”  Mamma Mia!

Bob Abumeeiz, who owns a pizzeria in Windsor, is almost as happy about this as I am.  “I’ve been in this business 17 years, and this is the first time cheese has ever gone down,” he told the CBC. “It’s unheard of.”  Kinda like low gas prices, right?  As another pizzaranteur told the national network,  “This is like gas going down to 80 cents a litre. It’s better for everyone.”  (Mind you, I don’t drive, but I take it that’s a good price?)

Let’s just said I’ve got June 1st circled on my calendar.  I’m already psyching myself up for a pizza-eating contest…against myself.

Pizza History Week: Domino’s gives new meaning to food porn

(Originally written May 2, 2013)

Always wanted to see how pizza was made, but unwilling to work for minimum wage?  If so, you just might be Italian, and you also might be interested in Domino’s latest innovation—a live webcam.  That’s right, if you get off on watching some pencil-necked geek toss dough in the air, you no longer need to pay for a monthly subscription to 2girls1crust.com.  Simply log on to dominoslive.com for some hot, crusty, doughy action!

As Forbes reports, “CEO J. Patrick Doyle called his company’s test ‘a logical extension’ of its efforts to boost ‘transparency’ over the last few years.”  Because if your pizza’s not ready in 30 minutes, you can type some dirty talk into the chat window, y’know, like “Show me the sausage,”  “Where’s the beef?”  or “Take off the mushrooms—I’m deathly allergic!”  (Hey, to some people, that’s a turn-on.)

Domino’s new strategy comes as arch competitor Pizza Hut unveiled its latest innovation to drive lazy-loser retention.  According to Forbes, “Pizza Hut upped the ante in the industry’s crucial digital milieu by unveiling a pizza-ordering app within Microsoft’s Xbox gaming system.”  That’s right, you can now order pizza without even pausing.  You’ll still hafta get up to pay the delivery guy, which might be a good time to empty out your piss bottle, while you’re at it.

Pizza History Week: The great Italian pizza shortage

(Originally written April 29, 2013)

You know the apocalypse is upon us when there’s a pizza shortage in Italy.  As The Telegraph reports, Italians are apparently too proud to produce the popular product, and the pizza-making industry is facing a labour shortage as a result.  “Despite a long recession and high unemployment, Italians are shunning the job because of the long hours and modest pay,” according to the British newspaper.  Wait, you mean all-you-can-eat breadsticks for $9.95 an hour isn’t incentive enough?  (Oh wait, that’s not Italy, it’s Pizza Hut.)

And here’s the kicker: what with the global economic downturn and the Eurozone crisis, Italians are actually eating more pizza—they’re just not making enough to meet demand.  As per The Telegraph, “with a slice of pizza an increasingly popular lunch time option in times of economic hardship, the pizza sector is booming – and an estimated 6,000 new ‘pizzaioili’ are needed, according to FIPE, an Italian business federation.”  Hmm, I guess they can’t outsource those jobs to India, eh?

But before you can say “Ai-yai-yai, pizza pie,” it’s Egypt to the rescue!  Having overthrown its authoritarian leader, The Land of The Pharaohs is now throwing dough up in the air—apparently with great aplomb.  As David Mandolin, head of the Italian School for Pizza Makers, told Corriere della Sera newspaper. “To make a good pizza, it needs to be crunchy but also digestible. Not everyone can do that, but the Egyptians can.”

So, what’s their secret?  “We are good at it because we are prepared to work hard. Italians, in contrast, want a nice comfortable office job where they can work six hours a day, five days a week, in air-conditioning. They’re not prepared to work 10, 12 hours a day,” an Egyptian emigrate told The Telegraph.  At least some cultural stereotypes still hold true, capiche?

Pizza History Week: Pizza Hut launches “Eau de Amore”

(Originally written December 4, 2012)

If you’re still looking for the perfect gift for that special someone at Christmastime, look no further.  Pizza Hut has announced its new fragrance, just in time for the gift-giving season.  That’s right, I said Pizza Hut.  According to the pizza chain’s ad agency, “it smells like dough with a little bit of seasoning added.”  Tell me I’m not the only one who’s aroused right now…

The new scent, eau de amore, was spawned by overwhelming demand on Facebook, where a Pizza Hut employee joked about bottling the smell of a big pizza pie.  According to Marketing magazine, “Fans reacted with such joy that the post garnered the month’s highest engagement rate, and within half an hour ‘a few thousand people’ had responded saying they’d like a bottle.”  No word as to how many of those people were actually women, mind you.

However, this hot ‘n ready pizza scent won’t be flying off the shelves every 20 minutes (or it’s free)—only 100 Facebook followers will be getting a bottle of the love potion in the mail.  Hey, if anybody in the GTA was the recipient of this special delivery, I would definitely take you out to dinner.  I’m thinking an extra-large, hot-dog stuffed crust, bacon, pepperoni and extra ground beef…  Call me!