Almost every day, we see people peddling novelty foodstuffs with dreams of virality. To offer some pushback against this desperate search for e-relevance, we often need to ask some hard questions. Today’s culprit is the Pizza Box—a box for pizza that is, itself, a pizza.
The edible container is not a novel concept: see the bread bowl, a crusty vessel rendered mushy and delicious by the soup it contains. But this case is more complicated. Taking the above tweet at face value, the pizza box is intended to reduce cardboard waste and offer even more delicious pizza for your consumption.
Neither of these claims hold up to closer examination. And there are even more metaphysical issues at stake about the nature of the words box and pizza.
What problem does this box even solve?
I’ll concede only this: the pizza box probably keeps the inner pizza warm.
But given that the essential purpose of a box is to ensure that your pizza is sanitary (no contact with the outside world) and easily portable (no hot hands), what issue exactly does the Pizza Box address? If it arrives inside another cardboard box, it fails to resolve the problem it claimed to: waste. If it doesn’t arrive inside a box, then you almost definitely don’t want to eat the outer pizza, and so it fails to deliver on its other promise: added deliciousness. That outer pizza was probably cooling out on Pizza Guy’s carseat and catching whatever bird poop/acid rain cocktail dripped off the nearest awning; don’t put it in your mouth. Even a bread bowl must still be served on a plate. Is the Pizza Box incased in another pizza box? Is it pizza boxes all the way out?
What are the mechanics of the Pizza Box?
Though I am willing to be proven wrong, the pizza crust cannot hinge as cleanly as grooved cardboard does. So you’re bound to have some cracks along the crease, and inevitable pizza-grease leakage as a result.
More pressing still is the composition of the Pizza Box’s lid. Is there cheese and sauce on there? If so, wouldn’t it drip all over the inner pizza, playing hell with the cheese distribution? And if not, how can we reasonably call that cheeseless, sauceless, barren expanse of dough a “pizza”? You can read a lot into the coy angle of the tweet’s photo: even if that unseemly cheese-sauce droop is there, falling perpendicular to the earth’s surface, the lid keeps it concealed from the camera. A lid, of course, that cannot fasten onto the bottom of the box, unless we’re ignorant of the latest feats in pizza engineering.
So what is it?
Even making the most generous assumptions, this is functionally a grotesque, misguided calzone. Though we’re still willing to try one to, uh, validate our suspicions.
More generally, I want to believe that even in 2016, you can still get by on the goodness of your food and not its retweetability. But every new iteration of rainbow bagels, rainbow coffees, and rainbow grilled cheeses just drives the stake deeper into my naïveté. Collectively we created this culture, and now we finally got the trash Pizza Box we deserve.