For a bigger, badder pizza, start by dialing 911-PIES

April 04, 1996|By Kevin Cowherd

NOT LONG AGO, the pizza industry took a good, hard look at itself in the mirror.

"My God, look what we've done!" industry executives cried. "We've made millions of Americans so fat they can't even get off the couch! They just . . . sit there propped up by large pillows, speed-dialing our stores for more and more pizza!"

This, of course, made the industry execs deliriously happy, and they broke out the champagne and party hats and formed a conga line that snaked through the lobby of the fleabag hotel in which they were meeting.

In the midst of this celebration, however, one executive began banging a spoon against his bottle of Korbel, signaling for quiet.

"The question is," he began, "how can we get these fat people to buy even more of our product?"

At this, the room grew silent, each person lost in his or her own thoughts. (Many, as it turned out, were trying to recall their place in the conga line, in case it started up again.)

Finally, one executive shouted: "I know! We'll make the pizzas even bigger!"

"And even thicker!" said a second executive.

"And even cheesier, with more toppings!" said a third. "Toppings a normal person wouldn't even dream of putting on pizza. Like, I don't know, potato salad or liverwurst or . . . or the grilled hind leg of a deer!"

"DUDE!" everyone screamed. Then they all clapped each other on the back with their little pink hands and partied long into the night, awakening with brutal hangovers yet with the same giddy sense of destiny that gripped the Silicon Valley in the mid-'70s, at the dawn of personal computers.

Thus began the not-so-quiet revolution that ushered in today's Triple Decker pizzas ("Six layers of cheese! Two layers of crust!") and Ultimate Deep Dish pizzas and Super Supreme pizzas and Stuffed Crust pizzas.

Now the average pizza is the size of a screen door and comes with, oh, 67 toppings. Plus it contains so much saturated fat and nitrates it should come with defibrillator paddles, lubricating jelly and an intern on stand-by, for that moment when your heart seizes up and you land face-down in a 16-inch bacon and sausage pie.

Yet, in TV commercials, these pizzas are always the object of desire of four or five dimwits in their early 20s, who apparently spend the bulk of their lives watching ESPN and spinning basketballs in a bachelor pad-ish setting missing only a Bud Light sign and a stack of Penthouses on the coffee table.

(In an ironic twist, the latest Pizza Hut commercials feature stage and screen legend Peter O'Toole, who is so gaunt and sunken-eyed he looks as if he just hopped off an autopsy table.)

Getting back to the Stuffed Crust pizza, this is an interesting concept, if you think about it.

Apparently it didn't matter that Americans seemed perfectly content eating pizza with only 95 percent of its surface area smothered in unhealthy cheese and meat toppings.

Because as the years went on, the pizza executives thought: Isn't there some way we can get rid of that relatively healthy 5 percent -- the crust?

After exhaustive research, they decided to -- stay with me here -- shoot cheese your gut expanding (or your hips widening) as you eat a slice.

Some first-time eaters may become alarmed as this happens, thinking they have somehow become the victim of a time-lapse photography gag.

They may root their stomach inching outward and now visibly straining against that Gap T-shirt and tight jeans, creating that classic "multi-folds-of-flesh" effect that is so attractive.

Coming soon: the new Bucket o' Pizza, 172 fluid ounces of dough, tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and your choice of toppings.

Perfect for lugging to the beach or pool this summer.

Pub Date: 4/04/96

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