The Year That Was: Pizza in 2008
The Year That Was slogs along, with a look back at the cheesy, saucy, crusty trends that shaped pizza in 2008—in roughly chronological order.
Pizzeria Bianco Mania
Pizzeria Bianco has popped up again and again on Slice, but 2008 seemed to be the year that everyone visited the place but me. Longtime reader/commenter Philip G., checked in with the first-ever video pizza upskirt with a Bianco slice; then DJ Bubbles went; then Slice reader Lance Roberts. Finally, Chris Bianco himself appeared on Jimmy Kimmel's show.
Pizza Beer Debuts
Beer and pizza go great together. It was only a matter of time before someone made pizza-flavored beer. Good idea or no? Who cares—it was fun for a laugh, and the stuff doesn't taste half bad.
Pizza Cones Land Stateside
After reading about them first in Italy, then South Korea, and elsewhere, pizza cones finally landed in the U.S., at Oak Park Mall, not more than nine miles from where I grew up in suburban Kansas City. But fate dealt me a raw deal—the Kornet Pizza stall in the food court opened a couple weeks after I had visited my parents. Not to worry, I finally got to try a pizza cone courtesy of the dish's inventor, Nir Adar.
More Ways for Your Lazy Ass to Order Pizza
Pizza has long been the food of geeks, so it's no surprise that 2008 ushered in a host of new ways to order this old standby. In January, Pizza Hut announced that you could text in an order from your cell phone (though Papa John's was first to do it in November 2007). Shortly thereafter, someone figured out a way to hack your AppleTV to order pizza (though, frankly, it looks too complicated, and who owns an AppleTV, anyway? ... Wait. Don't answer that fanboys).
And while it's not quite a technological breakthrough, it was nice to see Domino's give some amor to our Spanish-speaking pizzamigos by jump-starting an español telefono ordering option. Just to see how it sounded, I called:
In May, Papa John's hit an online ordering milestone: the $1 billion mark in web-based sales. And then Pizza Hut stepped up its game, offering online gift cards. But then PJ's fired back, using Facebook to give people free pizza.
The award for most spectacular display of lazyassness, however, goes to anyone ordering Domino's via their TiVo.
Oh, yeah, and the iPhone gives lousy pizza advice.
Pizza Prices Climb Ever Higher
Legendary Brooklyn pizzeria Di Fara reaches $4 a slice while plain-slice prices throughout the city edge toward the $3 mark. Sadly, 2008 was the year that pizza ceased to be a reliable cheap meal for thrift-conscious eaters.
Pizza Slices Get Cheap
But, wait! 2008 was also the year of the ultra cheap-ass slice. Sure, 99¢ Fresh Pizza led the charge with its Times Square location back in 2006, but with the economy in a nosedive, spendthrifts welcomed the additional 99¢ joint on 43rd and Third Avenue. And let's not forget 2 Bros. $1 Pizza on Saint Marks and on Sixth Avenue and 17th Street.
There was something in the air this year. We received a lot of emails from people who made pizza-themed cakes (here, here, and here) and who wanted to share their stories and photos. While not technically pizza, they were awesome nonetheless. Man (and woman) cannot live by pizza alone, I suppose. And what other kind of cake are you going to bake for the raving sliceaholic in your life?
New Pizza Tours in NYC
Mobile Pizza Ovens (and Pizza Trucks)
I saw my first wood-burning mobile pizza oven in Ithaca, New York, in February 2008, courtesy of Fingerlakes Flatbread. After that, trailer-mounted pizza ovens seemed to spout like weeds. There was Veraci, with ovens operating in Seattle and Bend, Oregon. The cool thing about the above two operations is that they set up on premises of farmers' markets and cook with fresh, local ingredients.
New Voices Near and Far
In 2008 we added a few new voices to the Slice universe. The fierce and mysterious DJ Bubbles became a semi-regular presence on the site, at least for the first part of the year (where are you, Bubbles? We miss you!), only to be joined in May by L.A. Pizza Maven spittin' dispatches from the Left Coast and then by Daniel Zemans in June, holdin' it down for the Chicago partisans.
'Truth Hammer' Appears, Nails Some Asses to Wall
We acquired the Truth Hammer, a cheesy literary device which, truth be told, sounds a bit like something a level-12 mage would wield in World of Warcraft. It comes out whenever I think someone out there in mediaville has written or uttered a blatantly false statement about pizza. I suppose I sound a bit grouchy when I wield it, but it's all in good fun. If you've been WACKED with the device, I'm just goofin' on ya.
Just Plain Weird and Wonderful
Ugh. Wish I would have bought pizza.com back in the day. The guy who bought it in 1996 for $20 sold it in April for $2.6 million. Strange thing is, it doesn't look like it has changed at all since the sale. Weird.
We came up with some really geeky ways of trying to quantify the awesomeness of pizza. First, with C.R.U.S.T. imaging (above) and then with digital calipers to measure slice thickness. Um, yeah, we haven't really widely deployed these advances in pizzology because they're a little unwieldy in the field.