It's a sad, sad day indeed. In the papers over the last few months, it's been story after story over about the rising price of food and raw ingredients. First cheese, then beef, and now wheat. If you're a rabid pizza eater, that last sentence should tell you where this is going. Cheese and wheat? Yeah. Two of the major ingredients of our favorite food.
Sewell Chan of the New York Times's City Room blog takes a look at how escalating ingredient prices are pushing the price of a single plain slice up to the $3 mark.
In the old days, [Two Boots manager Efrain] Aquino said, “the biggest overhead was always rent and cheese.” Now, the biggest cost is flour. Last week, he said a 50-pound bag cost $28.50; a year ago, the same bag was $12.
Chan's reportage prompted one Slice reader to comment:
Dear Adam, How about a little more contemplation about the state of the slice in general. In '04 you lamented the $2 slice. And now the Times is saying that the $3 slice is just around the corner. While I understand the complaint of many pizza shop owners, I really think the price of wheat has a lot less do with their price than their utility bills. $28/50lb bag of wheat amortized over god-knows-how-many-pies just doesn't seem to justify a 50¢ price jump. Utility bills tripling in a few years however... Canonizer
I don't know what I could add to that comment, Canonizer, especially without having talked to pizzeria owners. Is it really the flour? Or is the flour just the latest dramatic example of across-the-board cost increases—and merely the straw that broke the water buffalo's back? Utilities, as you say, are getting crazy with the energy squeeze, and I'd imagine that the rising property prices over the last decade couldn't have helped either.
I wish it were only as simple as a grand price-fixing scheme among pizzeria owners, but these cost jumps seem to be here to stay, what with the state of the global economy.
I blanched at Di Fara's $4 slice, but with the latest wheat news in the last couple weeks, Dom DeMarco looks, in retrospect, like a man a month ahead of his time. But DeMarco's an exception as of yet—the high demand for his pizza allows him to get away with the $4 slice. But how long before the fast-approaching $3 average becomes $4 as a matter of course all over the city? Give it a year or two, and we may look back at the controversy over $3 slices as quaint, just as we do the following passage from a 2004 Daily News article:
"I'll make my own at home, using ketchup and English muffins, before I pay $2 a slice," fumed Manhattan pizza fan Bev Astro. "Pizza should be a buck fifty, a buck seventy-five, tops."
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