I recently spent a whopping 40 hours in São Paulo, Brazil and my brain almost exploded from excitement. São Paulo has had pizza for over 100 years and there are so many pizzerias in town that nobody really knows the exact count (it’s in the thousands). I ate some pizza, but my biggest takeaway had to do with the pizza boxes. They are insane.
You can see in the photo above that Brazilian pizza boxes don’t look like normal pizza boxes. First of all, they’re not square. I get the question all the time “Why does a round pizza go into a square box?” Squares are easier to deal with in manufacturing and assembly. It takes much less time to assemble a standard American pizza box, but what’s the fun in a boring square box when you can get octagons like they have in Brazil!?!?
Once you recover from the shock of octagonal pizza boxes, take a closer look at the artwork. All three boxes in the above photo contain funny die-cut shapes on their lids. The one all the way to the left becomes a soccer field, complete with goal posts that pop into place and a two-piece soccer ball that snaps together for gameplay. But the other two boxes get even crazier.
Here’s what the box all the way to the right looks like when you snap out and assemble all the pieces:
The box all the way to the right is even more incredible. This photo shows the same box construction with a different pizzeria’s design:
Mind = blown.
But Brazil doesn’t stop there. Before the octagon appeared on the scene, Brazil was all about the round pizza box. Very few pizzerias still use these due to their high price point (molding the lids and bases is extremely expensive and takes up LOADS of space inside the pizzeria) but I managed to get my hands on a couple for the collection.
Let’s recover from the shock of all these crazy shapes and get to the really exciting part. The city of São Paulo has a unique feature on their boxes I have never seen anywhere else. Box bases have side tabs that lock into the lid. The concept is that this feature will prevent the delivery guy from tampering with (ie eating) the pizza. I’m not kidding.
Here it is in action:
According to Pizzerias Unidas, a trade association for Brazilian pizzerias, a city council member once found that his delivered pizza was missing some olives. He was obviously upset and did what any great politician would do: he pushed a law to protect others from similar pizza fraud. As of May 2008, “Restaurants and other companies that are delivering food for immediate consumption are required to use a warranty seal or seal on packaging for delivery.” A delivery with broken locks gets sent right back and the violation can incur a R$500 fine (about $225 US). Want to read the law? Check it out here. The law applies only to delivery pizzas and only in São Paulo.