Tonight we ordered a couple of pizzas for dinner and told the in-laws to come over for dinner. I hopped in the ole gray Jeep Patriot to go pick them up. After I procured them I had a strange and interesting thought pop in my head. I thought the pizza box hasn’t changed much in the last 15-20 years. So I went home and did what every curious human does and asked the Google what is the history of the Pizza Box. I stumbled upon the website Serious Eats and learned myself a little something about the pizza box.
What we would consider the Mitochondrial Eve of the pizza box spawned in the 17th century and seemed somewhat sophisticated and environmentally friendy of a system for transporting hot dough like food.
“In the early 1800’s, bakers were using copper containers to transport small breads and pizzas on the street. They often employed their sons to cart these stufas (literally stoves) around the neighborhood in hope of selling the scraps for some extra change. It was kind of like Newsies, but with much less singing and dancing. Unlike today’s model of made-to-order pizza delivered hot and fresh to your door, stufa boys were hawking pre-made pies. Stufas kept the pizzas warm, as copper has high heat dissipation capabilities. They also had pointed lids with covered vents to help manage steam exhaust. Brilliant!”
Nearly 100 years later a pizzeria in America started doing a really poor job of packaging their food to go.
“Jump ahead 100 years and pizza starts to catch on in New York and other industrialized American cities. Legend has it that pizzas were being sold “to-go” rolled into a cone, wrapped in paper, and loosely tied with twine at Lombardi’s (America’s first licensed pizzeria).”
So now we have moved to the idea that we slide a pizza into a brown paper bag after we put in on a piece of cardboard. Fun fact. I have gone to Federici’s a number of times over the years and their pizza is delicious.
“The post-WWII years exposed millions of American GI’s to pizza in Italy, so interest dramatically increased upon their return home. In the 1940’s, lots of pizza purveyors offered take-out pies. The pizza would sit on a stiff corrugated base, which could slide snugly into a large paper bag. The bag’s thin structure would allow steam to escape but only at the price of heat loss. Still, it’s not a bad means of conveyance. You can still find this method in use at Federici’s in Freehold, NJ, which has been bagging pies since 1946.”https://slice.seriouseats.com/2011/07/a-brief-history-of-the-pizza-box.html
Ok we are almost to the end!!! The boxes appear. And no more greasy bags.
“The 1950’s brought pizza into the dining rooms of a booming nation and as orders piled up, so did the pizzas. Bags don’t stack very well and we didn’t even have that funky-little-white-plastic-dollhouse-table-pizza-box-support yet (more on that in a future post) so mankind was forced to adapt. Thin paperboard bakery boxes provided a bit more support, and so were born the earliest dedicated pizza boxes.”https://slice.seriouseats.com/2011/07/a-brief-history-of-the-pizza-box.html
Finally, Domino’s to the rescue! I have to be honest. If you eat Domino’s I may be judging you right now. Just a little bit. It also happens that I hail from an area that has the best pizza in the country. I have five pizza places withing 15 minutes that are amazing. Moving on. Check out below how Domino’s changed the game.
“One of the greatest leaps in the evolution of the pizza box can be attributed to Tom Monaghan, founder of Dominos. Since Dominos focused its business solely on delivery, it should be no surprise that they were the driving force behind pizza delivery technology. In order to deliver hot pizzas in a timely fashion, Monaghan searched for a company to develop a corrugated cardboard box in the mid 1960’s. According to Monaghan’s autobiography Pizza Tiger it was more difficult than anticipated to make a container that was scored properly for folding yet strong enough to hold its form. After a long development process with Triad Containers, a Detroit-based corrugated box company, they finally achieved success. The resulting pizza box has become a standard for the pizza industry right down to the way the box base doubles over itself to lock into the base, known appropriately as “Michigan style”. Regardless of how you many feel about the quality of their edible products, it’s hard to ignore the impact Dominos has made on the history of the pizza box.”https://slice.seriouseats.com/2011/07/a-brief-history-of-the-pizza-box.html
So what does all this mean? This means for 50 years pizza boxes have been doing their thing. Sure add a little plastic table for Shopkins but the pizza box has done it’s job well. As always my mind drifts back to my teaching. What is something that I have done in my career at a really high level that hasn’t changed much? What is my pizza box? The answer to that I really listen to what my students are saying. I intentionally focus on what they are saying and figure out how I can change my class for the better. This is my strength. Talking with the students and allowing them to have a voice in my class.
What is your pizza box?