Whenever I see a crazy pizza story online, I brace myself for the onslaught I’m about to receive. It comes from all angles: emails, Facebook messages, Instagram tags, phone calls, MySpace, Friendster, smoke signals, etc. I know it’s a genuine internet phenomenon when people I went to high school with start tagging me in comment threads, but the real mainstream jump is marked by emails from my older relatives. All this has happened in the past few days since the announcement of a pizza that comes in a pizza box that’s made of pizza. That’s right, it’s an edible pizza box.
People usually send me funny pizza links but this one is super special. I hold the Guinness World Record for my collection of over 1,200 pizza boxes. Heck, I even wrote a book about pizza boxes. So you can accurately say I’m the right guy to get thousands of messages about a new and innovative pizza box.
You’ll find the box at Vinnie’s Pizzeria in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. This is a great hole-in-the-wall slice shop that always has creative pies (vegan ones, too!) and slices. They have an awesome specials board that features incredibly creative pies based on pop culture happenings (a Phil Collins pie called “In the Pear Tonight,” a Lemmy tribute called “SalLemmy,” and an entire string of pizzas named after US presidents). It’s really something special. I should note that Vinnie’s made a big splash last year with ANOTHER internet sensation that everybody sent my way, the pizza topped with little tiny pizzas.
Just like the pizza topped with tiny pizza slices, this edible pizza box was birthed by bored pizzeria staff. Not to take anything away from the creative geniuses that are the Vinnie’s crew, but these ideas are not culinary triumphs, they are jokes. Shenanigans like this have always been common in restaurants, but only with the rise of social media has anyone outside the kitchen been privy to them. Just imagine all the funny things we’ve been missing out on all these years!
By now it has been a few days since the story broke and the initial wave of links from friends and relatives seems to be over. I live pretty close to Williamsburg and my friend Jeff was VERY into the idea of eating this insane pizza, so we scheduled a rendezvous to experience the damn thing for ourselves.
Here is my breakdown of what you need to know right now about the edible pizza box at Vinnie’s Pizzeria in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
1. The lid and the base are not connected, as a normal pizza box would be. This was a bit of a disappointment for me because part of the novelty was the idea that this was a functioning box made out of pizza. Totally my fault for making that assumption and not being realistic.
2. The lid is a big slab of under-cooked garlic bread. We ripped pieces off and used them to scoop up fallen sauce globs. It was fun, but we definitely didn’t eat much of it.
3. The base of the box is a legit Sicilian pizza. To be really accurate, I’d call it a Grandma pizza (dough is pushed into pan but not allowed to ride before baking).
4. Jeff ordered a “pizza box pizza” with no additional instructions. What we got was a pepperoni pizza inside the box, which was unexpected but totally appreciated. I was relieved because I couldn’t help but think how boring it would look if the inner pizza and the shell pizza were essentially the same. This way there was some nice visual contrast!
5. The inner pie (pepperoni) sits atop the Grandma pie, so the crust absorbs some oil from Grandma grease. Not the worst thing in the world, but it’s something to keep in mind.
6. As you may be able to tell from my photos, the entire pizza was handed to us in a normal corrugated pizza box. I guess it was a bit unrealistic of me to assume they’d just hand us an unprotected bread slab, but that’s exactly what I hoped for. I had visions of Jeff holding this thing and not being happy about it as I drove to his apartment. That didn’t happen. 🙁
7. The pizza costs $40 and it’s essentially two pizzas (one medium, one large Grandma pie) plus the garlic bread slab. Pretty fair price.
8. People keep asking me how I’m going to save this for my collection. That’s not going to happen. My collection is only for mas produced boxes, not one-offs or art projects. This thing is cool, but I don’t need it in the collection. I know people are mostly joking when they ask this, but I feel the need to clarify my intentions just in case anybody is serious.
9. This is a novelty pizza. It is not intended to be something you order more than once. It’s very very funny and (inadvertently) addresses the issues with waste disposal, but not at all an innovation the pizza industry should be prepared to manage.
10. Domino’s UK launched a joke campaign around an edible pizza box on April Fools Day 2016. I have no idea if this inspired the Vinnie’s crew, but it’s worth noting.
At the end of the day, the edible pizza box is an extremely funny gag that’s not meant to be judged on gustatory merit. What amuses me most is that it takes a team of R&D professionals at Pizza Hut to develop a novelty pizza that gets about the same amount of press coverage as this product of employee boredom. Kudos to Vinnie’s, who has captured the hearts of millions of click-happy Internet users yet again. I look forward to the barrage of links to whatever they come up with next.