That’s right, there’s a real thing called the International Pizza Expo. It happens every year in Las Vegas and attracts some of the world’s best pizza makers for three days of pizza insanity. There are competitions, seminars, and hundreds of vendors exhibiting their wares. I’ve been going since 2007 and it keeps getting better every year. I’m happy to report that last week’s event was as insane as expected. Here are some of the craziest things I saw at the show.
1. A Giant Tomato Sculpture Made From Actual Tomato Cans
California tomato packer Escalon commissioned a local Las Vegas artist to construct this magnificent tribute to pizza’s favorite fruit. It was the centerpiece of their otherwise standard booth, which provided samples of nearly thirty products for attendees to taste. Escalon made an extra effort to attract customers by pledging to donate a can to a hunger relief charity for every event badge they scanned.
2. Weird Pizza Swag
Everybody knows pizza clothing is in right now. Didn’t Beyonce and/or Taylor Swift wear some pizza gear recently? Well they got nothing on this guy who was probably trying to sell me something. This shirt is so classy. I have no idea where he got it but I definitely want one for myself. I wear a medium.
3. Awesome Contests
This sign totally worked on me because it attracted me to the Liguria Foods booth but I still have no idea how the “WIN 500 lbs of Pepperoni” contest works. I was too busy learning all about the different pepperoni products to ask questions about the incredible prize. Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to buy my pepperoni like all the other plebes.
4. Weird New Pizza-Related Products
Here it is. The single weirdest thing I saw at Pizza Expo 2016. There’s a little tear-away bit that leaves a perfect space for your neck so you can flip the box around and eat slices direct from the source without bothering with a pesky plate. The lid of the box serves as a protector for the fancy shirt you’re wearing while lying in bed eating pizza out of a box. This mockup (one of many they prepped for the show) shows the marketing potential of the #PizzaBoxBib. Weird. Super weird.
5. Tater Tot Pizza
What good is a list of things I saw at a pizza convention without a photo of actual pizza? This was one of the entires in the non-traditional category of the International Pizza Challenge, a culinary competition that has divisions for Traditional, Italian, American Pan, and Gluten Free. This pizza wasn’t particularly good, but IT HAS TATER TOTS ON IT!!! Sorry folks, it didn’t win.