Thursday, December 17, 2015

& Then There Were Pizza Tats

Listen I love pizza. My appreciation has grown leaps and bounds since I signed on with PMQ Pizza Magazine just one year ago. And NO, it’s not because they pay me to like it. As a 7-year-old at my Knights of the Round Table-themed birthday party, I scarfed down the better part of a whole pepperoni pie. Of course I hurled buckets and it was some pretty traumatic comeback sauce blended so noxiously with all that purple icing and the chocolate milk half gallon chaser. Nope, even that didn’t put me off pizza. But I didn’t fully appreciate it, yet.

I ate a lot of it in college and ordered a ton of it for my kids after I richly earned my status as a single parent, twice. The history, the tradition, the Roman legions, the difference between a Chicago Deep Dish and Neapolitan, between pecorino Romano and buffalo Mozzarella, between  a peel and a spoodle.  Learning just a little about dough and ovens and regional styles and sockeye salmon-topped specials makes me dig it all the more. No pizza love deficit from me. Still, got some news for you—I’m not about to brand myself with a tattoo of my favorite slice or even the name of the international pizza communication company that employs me for that matter.

I love my job. OK, not as much as pizza, but the team at PMQ is a swell bunch of folks with some very talented writers, editors, graphic designers and videographers. Even though we have an impressive logo that you’ve no-doubt enjoyed yourself as a loyal PMQ reader—you know, the cute little slice triangle arrowhead injecting the Q tail thingy (printers terminology), it ain’t ever going on my shoulder, or forearm or butt.  I won’t be following in the needle-chiseled path of those dudes and dudettes who work at this happenin’ pizza joint in our nation’s capital called &pizza. The passionate ”pie tribe” (yep, that’s what they call themselves) can’t wait to meander a few blocks down the street in their little bohemian section of D.C. to acquire their free tattoo courtesy of their generous, some would argue visionary, bosses. Yes, I too thought D.C. was entirely populated by up-tight politicians and lobbyists. Who knew it boasted its own Haight Ashbury. Turns out &pizza will even throw in a free tat for customers who purchase $1,500 worth of pizza. Their customers literally sign their loyalty in body ink. Who needs coupons?

Yes, ampersands are cool, I guess. I’ve worked more than 33 years in writing and publishing and I do admire a well struck “Special Character.”  The flowing Ampersand might even be my favorite in tight competition with the elegant, but emphatic, exclamation mark.  Much as I adore typography, for my taste, paper is the proper medium for all those noble typefaces, not skin.

But that’s just old-school yours truly. I have an ex wife who shocked me one evening by revealing the tiny, tantalizing rose tattoo just south of her right hip—and this is a Republican, Chamber of Commerce-connected  WASP  mother-of-three. I liked it. A lot. On her. That tattoo didn’t save our marriage, but it did open my mind a bit to the value of body art in certain contexts. The thing is, though, you better pick your epidermal tracings with the judgment of Solomon, with an eye toward eternity, or at least your own personal expiration date. OK, maybe I’m evolving on tattoos, but I’m just not ready! Great place for an exclamation mark.

Here’s the bottom line: What’s going to endure? Your girlfriend, your wife, your country of origin, your puppy, Justin Bieber, your workplace, your favorite food? None of us really know—but if I had to stake my next child support check on it, my money’s on the cold pizza. Come to think of it, for a modest ($20,000 smackers) bonus from my wonderful bosses, I might be motivated to visit my local tattoo parlor and affix my undying PMQ devotion to my left butt cheek. If I ever get married again, I’ll tell her it stands for primordial magical quest?  


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Peak Pizza Consciousness Arrives…Maybe

Pizza drives pop culture like no other food. I grasped this undeniable reality when I was researching story ideas for a new video show we’re launching soon at PMQ. In fact, we’re launching an entire PizzaTV Network next year with programs targeted both to pizza consumers and pizzeria operators. That decision, in itself, says something about the preeminence of pizza as America’s favorite food and frequent passion.

Rock bands sing about it; celebrities wear its patterns on cheesy outfits; championship-winning football coaches give multi-thousands away at stadium parties; and leading presidential candidates fuel their campaigns on it. Pizza is as traditional as a classic Neapolitan served steaming out of a brick oven in an up-scale restaurant, and as cutting edge as a custom-made prosciutto, pear and arugula pie coming off a fast-casual production line. It’s as ubiquitous as cyberspace, where it’s sold digitally through on-line ordering systems integrated with point-of-service technology and electronic coupon and menu-posting websites and social media platforms. Pizza is as close as a button on your smartphone. Pizza is everywhere.

And that bothers some folks, like the researchers who claim pizza is making our school kids fat, addicting pizza junkies and causing men to pork down at the pizza food trough at the local buffet line to impress the ladies. Of course another study defines “pizza lovers” as women in their 30s who work out twice a week. So much for scientific consensus. I’ve written extensively, in my first year as a pizza pundit, about guys losing weight and shedding cholesterol points on pizza-only diets. Never heard of a pizza pundit? Well, we PPs are the guys and gals who know that dieticians also say homemade, veggie-heavy pizza can be the perfect family meal for nutritious togetherness. And working backward from picky kids (sometimes), pizza weddings are the latest thing in affordable, yet chic, scrumptious nuptials.

Pizza news, pizza costumes, viral pizza videos, pizza holiday wrapping paper pointing toward early February and the mass media footballpalooza where pizza replaces turkey as America’s truly super holiday supper. We haven’t quite reached the Singularity, but we may have achieved peak pizza consciousness as a society. I coined that phrase by the way so send those royalties my way … or don’t. It’s Christmas. Knock yourself out. We pizza pundits are a generous lot.


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Can’t Stomach Mr. Tubby as Pizza Power Icon? He’s Not!

OK, I hear ya! Some of our faithful readers had a beef—maybe a cow—with the lead photo on our last This Week in Pizza Newsletter. It covered a story about a research study that finds men tend to pig out when eating with a woman in some kind of primordial power play that goes back to who owns the biggest castle apparently. To illustrate the point, we found a photo of an especially gross looking guy wearing a badly stained wife-beater undershirt poised just north of his lower belly bulge and sagging sweat pants. Not a pretty picture.

A couple of concerned fans have questioned our sanity as a communications company dedicated to helping pizzerias sell America’s favorite food. One dear reader said the image would “turn off many people,” and he has a good point. He added that “we must have a good reason for doing it” and I’ll admit my response is maybe not good enough. You see, we love pizza around here and we absolutely dig the great people in the industry who make our company possible. Yes we wholeheartedly want to help you all sell pizza, run successful businesses and make a unifying contribution to your communities. As journalists and graphic designers, we also want to make dramatic impressions with our words and images. Especially in our online newsletter, we strive to grab you, captivate you and engage you with headlines and graphics that pull you in and prevent you from distractedly clicking on to the next story, the next website, the next sensory experience. So we try to be bold. In this case, the Neanderthal dude seemed to make the point of the story in a compelling way that made us chuckle.

But this blog is called Pizza Perspective.  And when I think about the perspectives of my readers who are working hard to support a new mindset of pizza as a healthy part of a well rounded diet when eaten in moderation, I’m not smiling. I have written extensively in PMQ Pizza Magazine and on about pizza’s nutritional benefits and great fit as part of dynamic lifestyle. In our May 2015 issue the cover story “Why Pizza’s Good For You” was illustrated by this image of a fantastically fit pizza fan. We even used this photo in a poster called "Seven Reasons to Enjoy Your Favorite Food Without Worry," which can be downloaded at and put up on pizzeria walls to promote a healthier image of pizza.

To hammer home the point of pizza’s rising power position in the health-minded millennials’ diet, we featured this image of today’s research-documented “typical pizza lover” on the cover of our December 2015 issue.  By the way, the story cites another study finding that 63% of pizza lovers are women, more than half are younger than 45 and that 68% of this group works out at least twice a week. So much for Mr. Tubby being the face—or the stomach—of pizza popularity today.

Throughout the year, in our magazine, website and newsletter, we have featured stories and images depicting people losing weight on pizza diets, pioneering approaches to healthier crusts and toppings and incorporating pizza night into healthy family eating plans. We’ve also pointed out the problems with government-sponsored studies that blame pizza for extra fat in school menus.

So Don Hunt (yes that Don Hunt) of Hunt Brothers Pizza is right that PMQ is all about giving you a hand in making pizza even more popular as we move ahead into 2016. Check out the exciting stories we’ll be producing online, in print and on video, which will hopefully make your job easier. Mr. Hunt closed his much appreciated note with “Other than that (our redneck pizza-pounding poster boy) I enjoy getting your emails. God bless you all.”

From your pizza advocates at PMQ, same to you Mr. Hunt, and blessings to our pizza family around the world.