Tag Archives: pizza

Human ingenuity combines with corporate marketing to create a better breadstick

Domino’s Pizza has launched a national marketing campaign that has absolutely nothing to do with pizza.  Enter the wonderful world of Domino’s Parmesan Bread Bites, the latest offering that is the subject of a brand spankin’ new commercial that’s part of the latest corporate advertising campaign.

The commercials feature Brian Edler, a franchise owner in Findlay, Ohio.  He’s been a rising star in the industry for some time, first receiving national attention when he set a world record by baking 206 medium cheese pizzas in one hour.  His pizza-powers are the stuff of legends, as he served as  Captain of the U.S. Pizza Team, competed at the World Pizza Championship in Italy and won the Fastest Dough title at the annual World Pizza Games.

Well, Franchisee Brian is back in the news.  He apparently designed the Parmesean Bread Bites by deciding to cut a breadstick into four separate and distinct bite-sized pieces and sell the product to consumers.  Customers no longer need to bite into a breadstick; they’re now able to more efficiently consume the product by simply popping a bite-sized piece straight into their mouth.

A marvel of human ingenuity, no?

Patrick Doyle, the Chief Executive Officer of Domino’s Pizza, agrees that Brian’s product is revolutionary.  He appears in the commercial, grinning and giggling while he praises Brian’s leadership and initiative.  Not surprisingly, he has directed all other franchisees to begin selling the bite-sized pieces of breadsticks.

The best ideas come from the folks on the front lines, no?

Brian’s friend Bob LaRichie apparently believes that the creativity of those in the trenches can rival corporate research.  Friend Bob also appears in the commercial, almost unable to control his excitement as he marvels at Brian’s decision to cut breadsticks into four bite-sized pieces.  He pointedly stresses that the decision originated in Ohio and that the product wasn’t the result of management’s influence on corporate test kitchens.  According to Friend Bob, “that’s what’s awesome about this!”

If Franchisee Brian is able to significantly contribute to executive operations, CEO Patrick should fear for his job, no?

Brian’s employee Lauryn Schlinghof makes a cameo appearance and explains that CEO Patrick should probably begin seeking alternative employment.  Employee Lauryn joins Friend Bob is recognizing Franchisee Brian’s decision to cut breadsticks into four bite-sized pieces.  Dressed in a neatly pressed uniform and standing in the world’s cleanest franchise, she explains that Franchisee Brian should be promoted to the Chief Executive Officer of Domino’s Pizza.

Anyway, I’m not sure why this whole damn marketing campaign agitates me.  It probably says more about me than CEO Patrick, Franchisee Brian, Friend Bob or Employee Lauryn.  I’m sure they’re nice people, and I’m probably just frustrated that no matter what I do and no matter how hard I work, my efforts will never be recognized by Domino’s Pizza.

Not so fast.  Domino’s Pizza has also announced it’s “Think Oven” campaign.  The new initiative will allow consumers to submit ideas through an online suggestion box.  Now, we all have the opportunity to become the next Franchisee Brian, without making the commitment to owning and operating a franchise.  Life is good.

Here’s to hoping that the company accepts my idea to slice its medium pizzas into twelve pieces instead of eight.  Fame and fortune are calling.

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On Valentine’s Day, nothing screams passion or romance like cake shaped after an anatomically correct human heart.

We already know that Pizza Hut set a very high standard for romantic cuisine for the coming holiday.  Valentine’s Day will simply never be the same after celebrating everlasting love by relishing in the joy of the franchise’s $10,010 Big Box Proposal Meal Deal.  Seriously, the phrase “I love you” is virtually synonymous with a one-topping medium pizza, a handful of overcooked breadsticks and bit of glitz and glamor.

Of course, other franchises and chains have taken notice.  Papa John’s pizzeria, for example, sold around 60,000 heart-shaped pizzas last year and expects to sell 75,000 this year.  Krispy Kreme is selling heart-shaped chunks of fun topped with all sorts of icing or sprinkles.  Down the street, competitive consumers will be able to celebrate Dunkin’ DonutsCupid’s Choice Donut and its Chocolate Heart Donut.

Somewhere in London, Lily Vanilli is laughing at the competition.  The baker, renown for unique and creative products, is now selling anatomically correct cakes that are shaped like real, bona fide human hearts.  I only wish I was making this up.  You can either visit the website to bear witness to images of these hearty desserts, or scroll down a bit for a better view.  As for me, well, I just threw up a little bit in my mouth, my stomach is making weird noises…gotta go.

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A greasy slice of pizza is the perfect gift for Valentine’s Day? You betcha.

Valentine’s Day has become synonymous with passionate romance, intimate meals, delicate red flowers and those goofy little greeting cards swapped by children.

The holiday is also closely associated with decadent chocolate and rich candied treats. These desserts are, however, relatively boring and uninspired. Still, hope exists for the affluent. Star-crossed lovers can now empty their wallets on the most expensive truffle in the world, which is priced at around $125.00 per ounce or around $2,000.00 per pound, or a box of ten chocolate bars accompanied by an Antic Swiss gold coin that costs $357.00. Those with more extravagant tastes can chose between sparkling desserts iced with jewelry, including a red velvet cupcake topped with an 8 carat diamond ring that costs $55,000.00 or a chocolate praline topped with a 3.63 carat diamond that retails for $240,000.00.

The rest of us – the blue-collar consumers – can always surprise our significant others with garlic bread and a hearty slice of pepperoni and sausage pizza. Soft drinks and chicken wings are optional, but are always greatly appreciated.

Holy slovenly sauces, Batman! Pizza Hut, the giant commercial franchise dedicated to the delivery of modern Italian cuisine, is now offering a pizza pie deal that costs $10,010.00. The franchise refers to the offering as its Big Box Proposal, and the scandalous spread includes a medium one-topping pizza, a generous portion of five breadsticks with marinara dipping sauce and ten cinnamon sticks topped with rich icing. The franchise is, of course, coupling the grub with a fireworks show, limousine service, a photographer, a videographer and a red ruby ring of undisclosed composition and value.

Extra cheese is available as a topping for an additional charge. I’m not kidding. The menu clearly indicates that consumers will have to pay more than $10,010.00 for another handful of processed cheese.

The dairy surcharged hasn’t deterred those eager to make their lover’s hearts pitter-patter to the beat of clogging arteries. A spokesperson for the franchise claims that the company received around eight hundred “serious inquiries” during a one-day period.

Eat your heart out, Papa John and Mr. Gatti. You’ll never successfully court Ms. Domino or Little Caesar with a simple spinach alfredo pie or a coupon for an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet.

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LEGISLATORS, LOBBYISTS AND SCHOOL LUNCHES: heroic efforts to save our children, one frozen pizza at a time

Scientists are constantly identifying new species.  These plants and animals are often discovered in remote parts of the world, such as uncivilized and unexplored rainforests or deep within uncharted oceans.  For example, we recently welcomed the aquatic Rogue Mushroom (Psathyrella aquatica), Darwin’s bark spider (Caerostris darwini) Attenborough’s Pitcher (Nepenthes attenboroughii) and the edible Udderly Weird Yam (Dioscorea orangeana).

These new species haven’t received nearly as much mainstream attention as the latest discovery: an edible vegetable commonly known as a frozen pizza.  This vegetable is hardy and versatile; it can be found thriving in a wide range of harsh environments, including school lunchrooms and the coldest parts of grocery stores.

Alright, this isn’t necessarily a new discovery.  Federal regulations have historically classified frozen pizzas as vegetables so long as they contain at least 2 tablespoons of tomato sauce.  The reasoning for the classification is probably pretty darn simple: frozen pizzas are made with tomato sauce, and tomatoes are vegetables, and therefore frozen pizzas must be vegetables.  It’s a straightforward and nutritious application of the transitive property of mathematics.

The reasoning and the application are also arguably erroneous.  Tomatoes are generally not classified as vegetables; they are generally considered to be fruits.

Regardless, the classification is important for several reasons. First, applying this transitive property of nutrition, I can sprinkle trace amounts of a green, leafy substance on dozens of chocolate frosted, cream-filled pastries and feel as if I’ve consumed a healthy and nutritious meal. That’s one heck of a breakthrough, and I already feel noticeably thinner and far more athletic.

Perhaps more importantly, though, the classification impacts the administrative of federal cash subsidies.  Under the current law, schools qualify for federally subsidized lunches only when they serve food to students that meets certain nutritional guidelines.  Schools that serve frozen pizzas that qualify as vegetables are more readily able to satisfy these nutritional guidelines and therefore qualify for federal subsidized lunches.

Simple, right?  Maybe.  The United States Department of Agriculture is much better at explaining this:

[p]ublic or nonprofit private schools of high school grade or under and public or nonprofit private residential child care institutions may participate in the school lunch program. School districts and independent schools that choose to take part in the lunch program get cash subsidies and USDA foods from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for each meal they serve. In return, they must serve lunches that meet Federal requirements, and they must offer free or reduced price lunches to eligible children. School food authorities can also be reimbursed for snacks served to children through age 18 in afterschool educational or enrichment programs.

Well, the USDA recently attempted to raise the threshold from 2 tablespoons of tomato sauce to 1/2 cup of tomato sauce.  Frozen pizzas would therefore require more tomato sauce to qualify as vegetables, at least in the eyes of the law.

If the proposed regulations were officially enacted, schools would have a financial disincentive to sell traditional frozen pizzas to students.  They would likely only sell frozen pizzas that met the heightened threshold, because otherwise the schools would have greater difficulty in meeting the nutritional requirements for cash subsidized.

Manufacturers of frozen pizzas were that concerned using 1/2 cup of tomato sauce to prepare frozen pizzas would increase the costs associated with production.  They’re probably right, and they were angry.  Some responded by hiring lobbyists.  This made the lobbyists happy.

The happy lobbyists complained to Congress on behalf of the angry manufacturers.  Congress acted upon their demands by including a provision within H.R. 2112, a recent minibus funding bill, that prevented the USDA from raising the threshold from 2 tablespoons of tomato sauce to 1/2 cup of tomato sauce.  On November 17, 2011, Congress passed the minibus funding bill and the President signed it the very next day.

The new law ensures that schools likely will continue to sell frozen pizzas containing only 2 tablespoons of tomato sauce to students.  These frozen pizzas will also continue to be classified as vegetables, and students will therefore continue to consume the frozen pizzas at school.  Adolescents rejoiced.

Manufacturers no longer needed to worry about the potential for increased costs of producing the frozen pizza.  They were no longer angry.  They rejoiced.

The American Frozen Food Institute was the primary trade organization that lobbied Congress to maintain the traditional standards for classification of frozen pizzas as vegetables.  It may have represented frozen pizza sellers like ConAgra Foods Inc. and Schwan Food Co., but it was really working for the best interests of children.  Don’t believe me?  Consider that the trade organization:

  • stressed that children would benefit from this “important victory,” because any other action would “force companies… to change their products in a way that would make them unpalatable to students,”
  • noted that “we believe we can improve child nutrition by ensuring that schools are able to provide vegetables in any form… It’s a little bizarre for us that in trying to improve nutrition, you take items from school cafeterias that do provide vital sources of vitamins and nutrients.”

I’m not necessarily sure that I’m buying the trade association’s claim the frozen pizzas truly provide vitals sources of nutrients for students.  The nutritional values may vary from school to school and from pizza to pizza, but several fairly reliable sources indicate that frozen pizzas sold to children are the equivalent of intestinal garbage.  According to LIVESTRONG, for example, generic school pizzas contain around 530 calories per slice.  Each slice also reportedly contains 21 grams of fat, including 12 grams of saturated fat, 81 milligrams of cholesterol and a whopping 1333 milligrams of sodium.

Holy freakin’ bloated bellies, Batman!

Whatever.  I’ve ranted about childhood obesity in previous entries, so I’m not going to jump on the soapbox this morning.  Suffice it to say, though, we really shouldn’t be surprised that incidents of type 2 diabetes among children have been occurring with increasing frequency and childhood obesity rates have more than tripled in the past thirty years.  These are disturbing trends, and it appears that the trends are going to get worse before they get better.

I also don’t think that I’m over-exaggerating the severity of the issue by claiming that this act is indicative of the manner in which federal government caters to the interests of corporate America above the health of the nation’s children.  This isn’t necessarily shocking, simply because I’m not really surprised by any action taken by the federal government.  Heck, I wouldn’t even raise an eyebrow if the federal government attempted to classify hot dogs and sausages as vegetables so long as they contain a modicum of ketchup.  That’s pretty unrealistic, but even far-out and far-fetched ideas are becoming more and more commonplace.

Wait.  What?  A previous administration already attempted to classify ketchup as a vegetable?

Oh brother.  I feel another rant coming on.  It’s probably best to just grab a pinch of a green leafy substance and get back to my hordes of healthy and nutritious chocolate frosted, cream-filled pastries.  I need to work on my figure, anyways.

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