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Pizza My Mind: What's Up With Take-Out Pizza in a Bag?

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Hot, soggy mess [Photo: Niki Achitoff-Gray]

I've been mulling over this post for a while, waiting for my boiling rage to simmer down into something resembling calm reason. But at this point, it seems unlikely that such a day will ever come. Because here's the thing. Getting your pizza to go in a bag just plain SUCKS.

It all started back in January, when Ed and I visited Juliana's for a review. What began as a reasonably-sized order quickly transformed, as you might expect, into a rather generous volume of pizza. Which, as mere mortals, we were unable to polish off.

While I waited for our leftovers to be boxed up, Ed headed over to Grimaldi's to grab another pie. For research, obviously. My belly was full and about to get fuller, and with pizza no less! Life was grand.

Then, things got weird.

My server emerged, bearing our two beautiful pies in two not-so-beautiful bags. With a 30 minute subway ride ahead of us, there was just no way in hell those pizzas were going to make it back to the office intact. Fine, I thought. I'll carefully balance one on each hand and hop on over to Grimaldi's, where I can hopefully beg a box or two off a sympathetic employee. Ha! To think that I was somehow genuinely surprised to see Ed standing out front, puzzling over pie number three! Because yes, you guessed it, Grimaldi's had jumped on the bag wagon, too.

Why the fuss? I suppose if you live in a suburb, drivin' around picking up your pizzas all easy-like in a car, your scoffing is probably justified. But I feel compelled to say a thing or two on behalf of the public-transportation-reliant pizza lovers of this world. Between passing through turnstiles, wading impatiently through equally impatient crowds, and balancing on jolting train cars, even a boxed pizza can prove challenging. Remove that stiff outer casing, and you may as well crumple up the whole pizza, jump up and down on it, and toss it in the trash.

Now, some pizza purists will likely claim that those bags are better for the pizza.* Properly sealed over a hot pie, fresh out of the oven, it will puff up with steam, keeping things nice and toasty inside. It's porous, odorless, and probably a whole bunch of other useful things. But my leftovers were not fresh out of the oven, and none of the boons of baghood were remotely relevant by the time I reached my destination. At which point, I should mention, the bags were, in various spots, soaked with sauce and grease, torn, and fully adhered to the cheese.

*Other pizza purists will likely claim that the pizza stopped being worthwhile the second you tried to transport it, so pardon me for not feeling all that compelled to engage with pizza purity at this very moment.

So, Slice'rs, help me come to terms with this bag business. I'm changing things up a little today and introducing two separate polls, so we can sort this out as scientifically as possible. Please vote according to personal experience:

About the author: Niki Achitoff-Gray is the associate editor of Serious Eats and a recent graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She's pretty big into oysters, offal, and most edible things. You can follow her on Twitter at @eatandcry.

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