A slice of reality: The pizza technology innovations era
There is absolutely no doubt that pizza has reached a new pinnacle. It is available in more places, and in weirder and more wonderful varieties, than ever before. However, the food and beverage industry has been notoriously slow to adopt new technologies. This coupled with the competitive and challenging nature of opening, running, and sustaining a restaurant has been a significant force behind why approximately sixty percent of the full-service and limited-service restaurants fail within the first three years of operating. But there has been one key vertical that seems to rise above the rest, the pizza industry.
Its success can be both attributed to the world’s insatiable appetite for pizza pies but also because of the industry’s adoption of digital and technical innovation. And now the rest of the food and beverage industry is looking to play catch up. It is interesting how things can turn the other way around really fast, isn’t it? Well, pizza has its big bonuses.
It is all rooted in convenience: Takeaway over eating out
First of all, keep in mind that when we talk about pizza, convenience has always been a huge component of the pizza industry and most probably, it will stay that way. Everything from the very way we eat a slice of pizza to the conceptual design of the restaurant and the adoption of online and mobile ordering are there to create a convenient experience for customers. The truth is that roughly fifty percent of Domino’s and Papa John’s sales is from delivery orders. Pizza delivery is an everyday indulgence for many people across the world. Time-starved and convenience-seeking consumers — yes, again led by millennials — are showing a growing appetite for having pizza delivered at home. This reliable service actually saves you the hassle of running to the grocery store, cooking a meal, and washing dishes. You simply have to pick up the phone or use your computer, and place your order — the pizza delivery will arrive quickly, giving you time to catch up on work, watch TV, or simply enjoy your favorite book with a cup of tea. Nowadays, time is the most valuable resource and it deserves our attention. Technology is now making it even easier that we have our favorite pizza delivered while sitting comfortably at home. The digital transformation is happening in pizza right now and you are here to see it.
But before getting into what is happening at the moment or what the future seems to be, are you curious to look back and see how the pizza industry, as it was from the very beginning, helped us to get where we are today?
How it all began: Important moments in pizza and technology history
Some people say that pizza is the mother of invention. And rightly so! It all started when in 1974, the Artificial Language Laboratory at Michigan State created a real speaking computer. For its first test run, the developers enlisted Donald Sherman, whose speech was limited by a neurological disorder, to try out the machine. And guess what, Sutherland used the computer to order nothing else but but pizza! He called Domino's first, but when the computer took too long to sound out words, Domino's hung up. He finally got through to Mr. Mike's Pizza place, and successfully ordered a pizza with pepperoni, mushroom, ham, and sausage. From that moment, it was all different, the game changed.
1991: Here comes the Pizzabot
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon created a sophisticated voice activated robot with one purpose: to make pizzas. The robot had a single arm, and would construct pizzas using ingredient bins at a built-in workstation. It could recognize a few important words like "pepperoni", “tomatoes”, “cheese” and "mushrooms", for example. Although it was originally developed to help physically disabled people operate pizza franchises, it was ultimately purchased by a Pittsburgh pizza franchise called Fox's Pizza Dens, and lived a short life as a novelty act at their restaurants.
Looking to innovate with chatbots? Now Dom, the Domino's Pizza Facebook Messenger chatbot you can order from is already here. Zume Pizza has almost removed humans from the ordering equation and BeeHex has created a food printer that can make you a personalized 3-D pizza.
When it comes to pizza industry, technical and digital innovation is essential to stay in business, as proofed by Domino's, which went from almost a bankruptcy to one of the most advanced companies in the restaurant business. This brings us to today: you can now order a pizza by simply pushing one button. Nowadays, it is a reality that Domino’s Pizza opened its Facebook Messenger bot to allow people to make entire orders. Before, you had to create a profile and configure preorder settings on Dominos.com. Now you can order your favorite pizza without ever leaving Messenger. That’s technology for you!
2014: The mind-reading pizza menu
Have you ever found yourself sitting in a restaurant and going “Umm..Aaah..” while the waiter is giving you one of these freezing stares. Well, Pizza Hut may have found a solution for situations like this.
Once again at the forefront of pizza technology, Pizza Hut has developed an app that reads your mind. The whole menu is completely controlled by the customer's eyes as they hover over an array of ingredients, from fresh peppers and mushrooms, to beef and chicken. In other words, the application tracks your eye movements as you peruse the online menu, then tells you what your order will look like based on the amount of time you spend looking at different ingredients. If you do not know what you want to order, it is totally okay. Pizza Hut knows you better than you know yourself. Eye-tracking technology is commonly used by advertising companies to see where people look (on internet pages, for instance) – but using it in a restaurant menu is an all-new idea.
Today, pizza is definitely leading the way in terms of wearables, ordering software, digital advertising and everything you can think of. But at the end of the day, almost any industry and company can learn something from what the pizza industry is doing. Moreover, it can be taken as an example of how things should be done. In a world where your core product never really changes, there is no place for questions about innovation. It just needs to happen at every touch point with the customers. It has to improve constantly.
The largest pizza
All around the world, people consider pizza to be the most enjoyable meal. There are hundred thousand of ways to prepare a pizza, but ultimately, the combination is supposed to remain the same. It is a yummy handcrafted meal you can have literally around the clock. Probably unsurprisingly, a lot of world records have been dreamt up that involve pizza in some way. However, one of the top dogs among pizza records, the world’s largest pizza was made in Rome, Italy, on December 13, 2012. Involved in that process were Dovilio Nardi, Andrea Mannocchi, Marco Nardi, Matteo Nardi and Matteo Giannotte, who got together with the aim to prepare a pizza with a total surface area of 1,261.65 square meters. Can you believe that? The pizza was specifically made hundred percent gluten-free as a way of spreading the importance about making health-conscious dietary choices. You are what you eat, right?
The longest pizza
After that, not to be confused with the world record for largest pizza, the longest pizza ever had to be made not in the typical circular shape as you may probably guess. This time, it was all about how much distance it managed to cover. On May 19, 2016, the world record for longest pizza made was broken again in Italy, but this time in Neaples. The pizza has a length of 1.8km, which is over a mile. 250 pizza makers joined the team and have used motorized wood-burning stoves on wheels in order to be able to roll the pizza easily. Whole 4,400 pounds of flour and mozzarella cheese were used, together with 3, 500 pounds of tomato sauce and over 60 pounds of basil. The fascinating fact is that the whole process took only a bit more than six hours. Right after it was all done, the creation was donated for people in need.
Top 3 most expensive pizzas in the world
Even though Pizza is considered a European dish due to its origin, when Americans are craving food, the first think that comes to their minds is pizza! Americans, just like the rest of the world, are crazy about it. If you were to lay flat all the pizzas that Americans consume in a day, they would cover more than 175 acres of property. That is approximately 350 slices per second! Do you wonder how much they are actually willing to pay for one really extraordinary pizza? $500, maybe $1,000? Think again.
A Renato Viola creation, Salerno, Italy — $12,000
The price tag on this one is outright ridiculous. But what makes this pie so expensive? Well, first of all, the creation takes 72 hours because the dough is given ample time to rest before being made into the most expensive pie the world has ever known. It is topped with bufala mozzarella, three types of caviar, lobster from Norway and Cilento, and it is lightly dusted with hand-picked grains of pink Australian sea-salt from the Murray River. The cost includes service, and this pie can only be made in your home. That is right, three Italian chefs will show up at your place and make it for you in the comfort of your own kitchen while you can watch your favorite series for example. Let’s just hope they aren’t staying for the entire 72-hour period because that would be a little weird probably.
Favitta’s Family Pizzeria, Henrietta New York (near Rochester) — $8,200
Yes, that is absolutely correct, the price tag is $8,200. This pie from New York is known as the “Pizza for Lovers.” But what is so special about that pizza? It is special because it is sprinkled with diamonds. This pizza does not cost so much because of the ingredients, it costs so much because it comes with a diamond ring and a bottle of Dom Perignon. Respectively, the price fluctuates depending on the size of the diamond on it. Who knows, maybe this is ideal for men who have a pizza loving girl. Maybe this is the perfect way to pop the special question. Diamond and pizza, who could resist an offer like that? And they lived happily ever after...
Haggis, Glasgow, a Domenico Crolla restaurant — $4,200
This luxurious pie is named after the British super agent, James Bond. Known by all as the “Pizza Royale 007,” this pizza is sprinkled with 24-carat gold dust, topped with champagne-soaked caviar and lobster that is marinated in 100-year-old cognac. Yummy!
It’s pizza day!
February is a great month because it contains a very important holiday. Not only that pizza has a special place in your heart, for sure, but it also has its own special day in the calendar – The National Pizza Day! Yes, that is absolutely correct. A whole day – 24 happy hours –which falls on February 9, and allows you to celebrate your one true love. That yummy food that almost no one can live without! From the humble beginning to today’s gourmet offerings pizza has captured the heart and stomachs of people around the globe and it does deserve to be honored! But do you have an idea what is the most appropriate way to celebrate the National Pizza Day? Most probably the first thing that comes to mind as a way of celebrating this day is by just scarfing down a slice of pizza quickly after work. But you can do much more than that to truly honor the glory of pizza. Here are some suggestions:
5 Ways to celebrate pizza day
1. What about going on a pizza crawl? First, you can do a little research and find the best pizza joints in your city and where you may have not been to yet, and plan out a route. You can handle this!
2. Bring pizza to work. In case National Pizza Day falls on a working day, this will actually be a chance to glow at work. Order some pizzas to the office and become a true hero. And if you do not feel close with all of your colleagues, then just invite the people you actually like, to visit the nearest pizzeria at lunch break together.
3. Pizza resolutions! Think of this as the first day of the new year, but a new pizza year particularly. Take a piece of paper and describe your pizza-related goals for the next twelve months. For example, some resolutions could include: eat healthier pizza (healthier ingredients), challenge yourself and try different variations, share pizza with your friends, and why not even try toppings you have not tried yet because you thought you would not like.
4. Give back to the pizza community with Random Acts of Pizza. There is a magical section of Reddit called Random Acts of Pizza where people join together to deliver a pizza to someone in need. Help send the joy of pizza to someone who cannot afford to feed himself — or even just someone who is feeling kind of lonely and could use a smile and a nice gesture.
5. Spend some quality time alone with pizza. Just you and pizza. It’s as simple as that. Turn off your phone and laptop, dim the lights, and remember why you fell in love with the pizza.
A warm warning: Pizza month is coming!
As the famous American actor Kevin James once said, “There’s no better feeling in the world than a warm pizza box on your lap.” And most probably, truer words have never been spoken. Pizza is a wonderful thing, and there is no such thing as bad pizza, even the worst pizza you can imagine is still pretty good because it is still pizza! And while pizza day gives you only one out of approximately 367 days of the year, National Pizza Month gives you an entire month, the whole October, to celebrate this amazing food, and more than ample time to try it in all its variations. As if you needed any excuse to celebrate and indulge in the delectable, mouthwatering, satisfying meal that is pizza. Feel free to spend October doing some major carb-loading with no guilty feelings at all. Are you wondering how the celebrating of the National Pizza Month came about in the first place?
National Pizza Month began in October 1984, and was created by the publisher of Pizza Today magazine and pizzeria owner, Gerry Durnell. He chose October because it is the month the first issue of his magazine debuted. He lived in a small town called Santa Claus, Indiana, and realized there was nothing to support his growing pizza business, or the pizza industry in general.
Since he was the one who created a pizza-themed magazine, as well as started an official month to celebrate this wonderful food, today we thank him from the bottom of our stomachs!
How to celebrate National Pizza Month
If you still have to be encouraged to go out and eat all the pizza you can get your hands on this month, then maybe there is something wrong and Pizza month is not for you. At the end, who needs encouragement to celebrate pizza? Well, if you want to truly honor pizza, then it is the time for you to try some new toppings on your pizza and experience the full range of what pizza can be! Go out, try something new, and enjoy pizza! This is all you actually have to do. Enjoy!
World’s largest celebration of pizza: Pizzafest
Considering the origin of pizza, Italy has always been connected, of course, with pizza! And even though they do celebrate National Pizza Day and Pizza Month, they also have their own, additional, domestic tradition to honor pizza – it is called Pizzafest. And yes, the fair takes place in the amazing city of Naples.
The Pizzafest popularity is so big that some towns have also created similar initiatives, but nothing can be quite compared to Naples Pizzafest of course.
About the event
Naples holds this event in honor of pizza every year: for five to seven days, the most famous pizzerie from all over the world compete against renowned local pizzaioli, who set up stands with tables where people can sit and taste different varieties of pizzas. At the end of the week-long celebration, a jury will judge, also by taking into account the opinion of all those who ate at the Pizzafest, the various pizzas and proclaim the best pizzaiolo in the world. The dates of the event change every year, but it is most usually organized in September. Pizzafest is the right event for all pizza lovers who want to attend the world’s largest fair dedicated to this amazing food, as well as being a great occasion to visit the beautiful and charming Naples. So, are you planning any trips to Italy soon?