Hey, check it out! The Atlantic picked up some quotes from Scott Wiener's pizza box post here on Slice. Alexis Madrigal, senior editor at The Atlantic, gives a brief run down on the history, but then places his focus on the three big innovations that have transformed pizza boxes into the well-ventilated, heat preservation delivery vehicles that they are. Corrugated cardboard as the longstanding material of choice gets props, as does the plastic tripod that keeps pizzas from getting crushed by the box lid. But it's the ingenuity behind the insulated sleeve that really separates the wheat from the chaff when it comes to regulating the moisture/temperature equation. Alexis has this to say:
But there is another near universal pizza delivery enhancement: the insulated sleeve. You know the thing I'm talking about. It's what the delivery guy pulls your pizza out of. It's worth noting, I think, for the idea it embodies. Petroski said that all design requires one to work with constraints. In the pizza case, as we've discussed, the big one is the moisture/heat retention continuum. The more closed you keep the box, the more heat stays in, but the greater the chance that the moisture ruins the crust.
The pizza sleeve designs *around* that constraint. Some designer (who probably worked for Domino's) said, "Let's separate out the heat retaining and moisture battling components of the box." Vent to your heart's content to control moisture, but keep the pizza in an insulated sleeve, so that the heat stays in. The pizza and the box stay the same, but the system of delivery changes. That's brilliant.