Strange Harvest
Architecture / Design / Art
StrangeHarvest is written and collated by Sam Jacob.

Pizza Planet

In my darkest hours, my friends deserted me. Betrayed and abandoned, I was alone. Well, almost alone. There was someone I could call. It was Ahmed. He took the orders at Dominos. During my miserablest year, he gave me Pepperoni Passion (large) almost every night. It was that which got me through it. It certainly got me fat.

On July 28th, its 20 years since Domino's opened their first outlet in the UK. The first to bring the systemised, franchised, American pizza delivery concept to old fashioned Britain. A date that marks the beginning of modern Britain. Previously, it was an exotic mysterious thing - glimpsed in ET, it seemed as un-worldly as UFOs, aliens, flying bikes, and trick or treating. A character in Douglas Adams' 'The Endless Teatime of the Soul' characterised pre-Dominos London like this: 'Why would no one deliver pizza? Why did no one understand that it was fundamental to the whole nature of pizza that it arrived at your front door in a hot cardboard box? That you slithered it out of greaseproof paper and ate it in folded slices in front of the TV? What was the fundamental flaw in the stupid, stuck-up, sluggardly English that they couldn't grasp this simple principle?'

There are some who claim that only Italian pizza is worth eating. What they don't realise is that biting into a Dominos pizza is like sinking your teeth through the history of the whole world. Forget Simon Schama. Get yourself a large Mighty Meaty instead. It's 3000 years of culture topped with olives. Like western architecture, the pizza can be traced back to Classical Greece. This is where its essential concept was established: a round flat bread with stuff on top. Through Roman occupation and usurpation of classical culture, the Pizza arrived in Italy - There's a lava-covered pizzeria in Pompeii. When Italy broke up into mini states, herb-and-spice-covered circles of baked dough grew exceptionally popular in Naples. By the late 1600s Neapolitan peasants were adding New World tomatoes to this focaccia-like base. Modern pizza became formalised by baker Raffeale Esposito after experimenting with cheese/sauce/bread combinations. His patriotic red (tomato)/white (cheese)/green(basil) topped pizza was made in honour of Queen Margherita. History does not record his meeting with Princess Chicken Feast.

Italian immigration took Pizza to the US. But it was the taste that
demobbed GIs had developed during WWII that took the pizzeria out of Italian neighbourhoods and onto Main Street. As it did, it became American: bigger, fatter with more stuff on top. It started to mutate, sprouting German sausage, Hawaiian pineapple and ham through its deep pan base.

This new Americanised pizza was exported around the world. Toppings began to reflect local culture: Tandoori in the UK, Shwarma in the Netherlands, pickled ginger, minced mutton and tofu in India; squid and mayo jaga in Japan; green peas in Brazil; bacon, onion and fresh cream in France; red herring in Russia; coconut in Costa Rica. These endless perversions of the original Italian vernacular show that pizza is perhaps the only global food. It's a kind of open sauce design.

More fundamental alterations to the Pizza are plotted in the product development teams of companies like Dominos. Its here that they attempt to engineer pizza perfection: editing out the bad bits, amplifying the good. The big problem is the crust - a too-chewy side effect of a baked base. Pizza Hut try to turn the negative into a positive by stuffing it with a ring of cheese. Dominos have gone one further with 'Double Decadence': more like edge to edge topping on a double skinned base. The base is actually more like wafer disks than bread - sandwich a garlicky emulsion. When you munch them, the top disk slides over the bottom disk, lubricated by the garlic gunk. It feels like something mechanical made out of dough. It's disconcerting to feel the base moving - unstable, like plate tectonics.

Suburban living, car culture and technology transformed pizza into fast food. The pizzeria was equally transformed. Logistics, infrastructure and food technology exploded the idea of the restaurant, scattering its programme over the suburbs: the waiter taking your order over the phone and serving you by scooter. The kitchen and dining room joined by miles of tarmac.

For Pizza Porn, you only need sit by your letterbox. You'll soon be submerged by flyers. They will combine close up photography of, melting cheese. You'll see moist ingredients: plump tomatoes, peppers beaded with sweat anticipating digestion. You'll see American flags fading like the closing credits. You'll see Italian flags. You'll see the Statue of Liberty punching her torch hand through pizza base. There will be many special offers.

For those who bemoan that they are no longer Italian they should realize that there is no such thing as Italy anymore. Patriotic nationality is a nostalgic dream. Modern identity is fluid - like ideas and capital. Culture mutates pizza, stretching the vernacular like mozzarella into weird new forms. Pizza tells us more about modern geography than maps.

At the time, I felt alone. I didn't think that I was part of a huge, lonely global community, phoning our orders and eating our way through acres of pizza. Imagine if we had laid down our slices together, we could have formed a gigantic landscape - A republic of pizza, safe from harm. Imagine a pizza-faced planet spinning in space, with bite shaped shadows around its rim like mini-eclipses.

I think my relationship with pizza was sublimated violence. My mouth was like a masticating Death Star destroying pizza planets. Munching destruction through that circular symbol of harmony and unity. I ate until I felt my stomach walls stretch, till my insides were filled with numb product. Until that perfect disk was well and truly torn apart. It was revenge fantasy delivered piping hot to my door.

first published in Icon

Posted by anothersam at May 7, 2005 2:59 PM.


DC1974 said:

To be honest, Dominos and at least as far as my American hometown is concerned, Little Caesar's Pizza, really changed the whole dynamic of pizza eating in the U.S. for us.
Up through the mid-1980s, we always made our pizza from scratch, ate out at a pizza restaurant -- either one of the local joints or Pizza Hut, or if really lucky, my uncle would bring out out a true Chicago stuffed pizza from Eduardo's or Due's when he visited us in the 'burbs.
But with Little Caesar's, we had a pizza that was MADE to bring home. In fact, you couldn't eat it there. It was only for pick-up.
Later, of course, we had Domino's and could get it delivered to our door. This ushered in the era of late-night college eating in the residence halls, and having the best delivery places on speed dial.
But the idea that you pizza was to be eaten like McDonald's food -- fast, cheap and to-go -- was a new one even for us Americans in the mid-80s.

Leave a comment


More Scenes In Cartoon Deserta

Eiffel X-Rays

Beyond: Values and Symptoms

Sub Plan

Shenzhen: Window of the World

White Power

Generic Powerpoint Template: Delivering Bad News

Duplicate Array

The Best New Building In London

Book Review: The Infrastructural City

A Balloon in the Pantheon

Letters From The Pantheon

Henry Moore in Motion

On My Steel Horse I Ride

The Michael Jackson Monument Design Competition

Now Showing: John Baldessari Sings Sol LeWitt

Obscure Design Typologies: Life Guard Chairs

Osama bin Laden Cigarette Lighter: Novelty Products as Congealed Culture

Absurd Car Crashes: A Eulogy for J.G. Ballard

Candy Pistol

Now Showing: Dan Grahams 'Rock My Religion'

This Concrete 'O': On Serotonin, the M25, and the Motorik Picturesque

Church of the Literal Narrative

Philadelphias Floating Architecture

Now Viewing: Married To The Eiffel Tower

Le Corbusiers Image Hoard: Poeme Electronique

Giant American Signs: Original Learning from Las Vegas Footage

Giant Soviet Signs Cut Into Forests

Bricks Melted Into Icicles: Napalm Decorative

C-Labs 'Unfriendly Skies' & 'Bootleg' Volume

2 The Lighthouse: Self Storage & Architectural Hallucinations

Ceci N'Est Pas Une Pipe: Infrastructure as Architectural Subconcious.

Viva Sectional Cinematography!

Now Showing: The Installation of an Irreversible Axis on a Dynamic Timeline

Plug: Junk Jet

Sim Seasons Greetings! The Rise of Neo-Winter

Geography in Bad, Festive Drag.

The Ruins of the Future

High Tech As Steampunk ...

On The Retro Infrastructural

Simulations of Industry: High Tech Architecture and Thatcherism

David Greene: The Big Nothing

From The Factory to the Allotment: Tony Wilson, Urbanist

Koolhaas HouseLife / Gan Eden: The Revenge of Architectural Media

Ruburb-ric: The Ecologies of the Farnsworth House

The Architecture of Divorce

Flagrant Delit: The Movie

Landscape as Clothing

Telly Savalas Looks At Birmingham Redux

Acts of Un-Building: Timelapse Demolitions

Yard Filth: Next Years Hot Look

Stonehenge: A Black Hole At The Heart Of British Architecture

The Popemobile: Mechanised Robes & Motorised Architecture

Tarmac Adam, Tarmac Eden

The Secret Language of Surface

Some Housekeeping

Information Fields: Agriculture as Media

My Bloody Valentine: Sound as Substance

A Cubist Copse: Gehrys Serpentine Pavilion

Olympic Model Protest

Spouting Off: Some Thoughts On The Fountainhead

Form Follows Dysfunction: Bad Construction & The Morality of Detail

Floating Homes

Vintage Tradeshow Surrealism: International Grune Woche

Moving Houses: Buildings In Motion

Desktop Study: The Strange World of Sports Studio Design

Married to the Eiffel Tower: More Objectum Sexuals

60 Years of The Crazy Horse Memorial

Married to the Berlin Wall: "The Best and Sexiest Wall Ever Existed!"

Inflatable Icebergs: Sublimated Guilt Has Never Been So Fun

The Cinderella Effect: Phantom Architectures of Illumination

Two Deaths and a Retirement: The Strange Shape of British Architecture

If London Were Like New York: Antique Schizo-Manhattanism

If London Were Like Venice: Antique Geo-Poetic Speculations and Hydro-Fantasy

41 Hours in an Elevator: The Movie

NASA: Mapping the Moon with Sport

Lemon Squeezy: Design Tendencies after the Juicy Salif

Stadium Seat Mosaics

The Nihilistic Beauty of Weapons Arranged in Patterns

Light Vessel Automata

Dogs: Britains Greatest Design Obsession

Madison Avenue Modern

Detroit Sucks: The Motor Shows Last Gasp

Mies' Grave: Cut Out Model

All You Can Eat

Valentine Machine

The Tools of Re-Geography

Floating in a New Town Sky

Authentic Replicas: Football and the Franchising of Place

Folk Football: Landscape, Space and Abstraction

Haystack House

A Wishing Well with a Fat Up Pipe

The Camoufluers and the Day-Glo Battleship

Pseudoccino: Instant Coffee Foam

Yesterdays Technology, Today

Blown Up: More Inflatable Military Stuff

On Christmas Trees, Folk Forests and Staples Office Supplies

Hampton Courts Shrouded Sculptures

Named Fabric: 20 Sponsored Pieces of Architecture at the New Museum

Form Follows Felony: The Secret Home of the Un-Dead Canoeist.

Architectural Magazines: Paranoid Beliefs, Public Autotheraphy - More on Clip/Stamp/Fold

Little Magazines Seen Today

James Bond Lives Next Door: Suburban Imagery as Industry

The Ghost of Christmas Futurism

Petrified War Machine

Military Deceptions

Chapters for an Imaginary Book About Architecture

Shrouded Plinth - Urban Striptease

In the Night Garden - Surreal Landscape of Nostalgia

Kim Jong II, The Great Architect

Pill Box Picturesque

Un Clear Monument

Place Faking: Instant Heritage for the Thames Gateway

The Marc Bolan Memorial Crash Barrier.

Warped Domesticity

The Nuclear Heritage Coast

Enjoy The Silence: Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones

The Story of O (2)

Telly Savalas Looks At Birmingham

X100: A Design Exercise

How to Plan A New Town

Carpet Bomber

In Search of Britains Vehicular History

Scenes in Cartoon Deserta

Scary Suburbanism: Why Horror is at Home in the Suburbs

Re-Make Re-Model

I Like Your Manifesto, Lets Put it to the Test-o

How to Become a Famous Architect

Northampton - Sci-fi Pop Planning Promotion

Advertising Central Milton Keynes

Baltic Exchanged

Festival of Nostalgia

The Clapham Trainwash

Airports as Music

Test Card Dummies

The Velvet Underground at the Glass House

Duplikate: Kate Moss on the Production Line of Individuality

The Museum that Ate Itself

Hollow Inside: Starbucks Foam and the Rise of Ambiguous Materials

Revisions to the Architecture of Hell

Crufts: Dogs, Design and Aesthetic Genetics

Eos Airlines: Executive Bubbles over the Atlantic

London's Ugliest Buildings

1.51 Miles Of String

Google Earths Vertiginous Mapping

Church of the Ascension and Descension

Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles

Replica Bombs

The Invisible Bungalow

House / Boat

Reading Lines: Skateboarding and Public Space

Mountain Sculpting

Sint Lucas in BD

Bat House Competition

Old Walton Bridge

Kiruna: The Town That Moved

Spray On Magnetic Defense

Chris Cornish: Prototyping History

The Jubilee Gestalt Vase

The Most Visited Location in the UK

Anything to Feel Weightless Again: The Cargo Lifter and the Tropical Island Resort

'Its beauty will know no season'

2000 Years of Non Stop Nostalgia. Or How Half Timbering Made Me Whole Again.

Inside-out Aldwych

Backpeddling into the Future: The Historical-Futurism of British Architecture

Miss Selfridges' Feeling for Fake Snow. The Oxford St. Lights and Why We Need Artificial Winter

Nelsons Cavern

Foam Gargoyle

New Tory Logo: A Hazy Shade of Politics

Jeff Koons, Rem Koolhaas, Hans Ulrich Obrist at the Serpentine

Souvenir Empire

Celebrity Scents: The Bittersweet Smell of Success

Imperfect Pitch - Football, Space and Landscape

Product Placement: Making the Impossible Possible

Suburban Growth: Matthew Moores Field of Dreams

Perfect Sound Forever: The Secret Function of High End Stereos

Picture of the Week 1

A Little Light Product Placement

Some Advice To A Young Designer

London and on and on

In the Gallery of Ice Creams

Useless Proclamations for a Beautiful City

Mini Mies Chair

Topsy Turvy VSBA: Inverted Heros of an Upside Down Avant Guard

Harvest III: Buried Things

The Harvest II

The Harvest I

Estuary Urbanism

The Royal Families Trees

Everything Flows: ideological cartography

How Geostationary Was My Valley?

The Psychotic Utopia of the Suburbs and the Suburbanisation of War.

LegoLand London Cluster

In a Lonely Place - Under Construction

Design Will Eat Itself

Mach 3 Nitro Gel - Design that's foaming at the mouth.

Marchitecture. Architectural things to do in London this March

Metallic Jet Powered Cloud

"When we got married I had no idea he would do something like this, he just said he was going to do some decorating."

The Electric Cenotaph

Russian Rok

Commitment ...

Dinner in the Iguanadon


What happens when you cross a pen with a car?

Leg Table Leg

Florentine Building Sites

Good Morning Britain

Football Pitch: Best of British

The Sad Photographer

The First Cut is the Cheapest - Blenheim Palace: pop architecture that goes for the jugular

Book Now For Christmas

Requiem for a Toilet Seat

Architecture that Destroys

TomTom Mobile 5 / GO 700

Winning Design

Another Croydon

Holiday Snap II : Giant Glowing French Balls

Holiday Snap: Canadian War Memorial, Vimy, France

Pecha Kucha London

Anatomy of an Architectural News Story

Big Bens

First Cut - Case Closed

The Texas Tower

Its All About the Big Benjamins

G8 Security Tower

White Cubed Blues

Poundbury, unexpectedly, in the rain

The Exploding Concrete Inevitable. Lou Reed and the Casa da Musica


Untitled (Plastic Sack and Timber)

Berlin 1945 - The Obscene Picturesque

Pizza Planet

Goal Sculptures

Interview: Jeremy Deller & Alan Kane

Previewing Cedric Price

The Mardas Touch

Building a Lionel Richie Head

Ornament is Grime 2

An Incredible Smell of Roasting Coffee

Flatpack Frenzy at New IKEA

Langlands & Bell - The House of Osama Bin Laden

Labour is kind of working

Happy Death Men

Build to Let

Architectural Criticism gets Sharp

Niagara Falls

Ornament is Grime

FA(ke) Cup

Q&A: Wouter Vanstiphout

X-treme urinals

Unigate Cowscape

Spray-on Snow

From the Baffler ...

One in a Taxi

The Queen Machine

The Knork

Venturi, Scott Brown and my love that dare not speak its name.

Polictical Placards

The Ketchup Conumdrum

Douglas Coupland: Design and Fiction

It's a Small World

Images de Parfums

Soft Carcass

Christopher Dresser at the V&A

Blow up Pub

Municipal Mummification

The Matt and Ron Show

Semi - detached

Half Timbered Van

Feltham Future

Favorite Things

Fugitives and Refugees' - Chuck Palahniuk

The Pop Vernacular

Design by Chefs

Just What is it That Makes Yesterdays Homes So Different, So Appealing?

Archigrams Pastoral Futurism

Sorry Mies

The Flaming Lips - Live.

Everything Counts - The Sound of Geography Collapsing.

Carlton Terrace Extension




Flip Flop Flyin'
Arts & Letters
Bldg Blog
City of Sound
Design Observer
Limited Language
Kieran Long
Arts Monitor
Loud Paper
Dwell Blog
David Barrie
Super Colossal
sit down man, you're a bloody tragedy
The Sesquipedalist
Architecture & Hygiene
Kazys Varnelis
Infranet Lab
Life Without Buildings
Landscape & Urbanism
HTC Experiments
Deputy Dog
The Dirt
Art Fag City
Triple Canopy
NL Blog