Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Weird Wednesday: Why Does Pizza Get Delivered?

If you go to Microsoft's Office site and search for images on pizza, your results include several pictures that look like this.

That's because even Microsoft acknowledges that pizza in this nation is just as much about cars, doorbells and cardboard boxes as it is tomato sauce and cheese.  

When was the last time you picked up the phone and ordered a hamburger for delivery?  Would you like fries with that?

Or what about a roasted chicken?  Do the yellow pages have a special listing for them so they can be brought to your door?

Does a cowboy fire a warning shot when he rides up with your order of Tex-Mex?  On St. Patrick’s Day, does a man dressed like a leprechaun show up with your corned beef and cabbage?

No?  I thought not.

So, why does pizza get delivered?  It’s a question full of cultural, historical and economic significance and I seem to be the only one bothered by it.  I can’t get Nicolas Cage and the producers behind the “National Treasure” movies interested.  Conspiracy novelist Dan Brown and Tom Hanks won’t even take my call despite the obvious connections to hazy Italian history and The Knights Templar.

And countless delivery people refuse the tip and speed away when I demand an answer to a question that should be uppermost on their minds.

The vast majority of the pizza consumed in this nation comes delivered.  Several huge businesses like Papa John's and Domino's prepare fresh food for families without an actual restaurant to serve it in.  In fact, if you click the Domino's link you'll see that their current marketing campaign involves perfecting the delivery vehicle rather than the pizza.  

Even the “hut” in Pizza Hut is pretty much a bit of nostalgia.  It might as well be called Pizza Chevy these days.

No other food that I can think of has seen this kind of transformation.  In certain areas, you can give an honorable mention to Chinese food; but, that’s highly localized and incremental business to a neighborhood restaurant.  Fast food chains certainly depend on drive-through lanes but you still have to come to the food, it does not come to you.

Why does pizza get delivered?

Frozen pizza companies like DiGiorno promote themselves as being as good as real pizza – of course, that’s the pizza that gets delivered.  You know it and DiGriorno knows it.  Their commercials are built upon the idea that the culture expects pizza to be delivered.  It’s a perception they have to overcome because we all believe that pizza, by definition, is brought to the door by a delivery guy.  In the commercial below, a rather excitable and perplexed delivery guy.

The evidence is everywhere that pizza as an economic artifact and cultural phenomenon has become a delivered commodity.

Spaghetti, also Italian, by and large is not in that category.  Eggplant Parmigiana?  Nope.  Risotto?  Uh-uh.  Veal Saltimbocca?  Non accade (hey, look it up).

I don’t have an answer.  Why does pizza get delivered?


  1. I'll have to ponder that. I wish more food got delivered.

    It's a good question.

    1. I really think it is one of those "food tells us who we are" questions, Mimi. Not quite sure what this one is telling us, though. I've heard some theories in my informal polls, but none of them hold up. Why does pizza get delivered?