(Originally published on October 9, 2013, and Updated on May 11, 2023)
My Most Viewed Blog Post
When I wrote my first post for this blog back in 2010, I had no idea how many people would be interested in reading what a relatively obscure (as far as the Internet was concerned) attorney-turned-pastor had to say. Almost 13 years and 453 posts later, I have had 91,656 visitors who have viewed these posts 223,646 times. I am honored that so many people — both old and new readers — have visited From Law to Grace over the years.
If you would have told me all those years ago that my most viewed post — 21,310 views to date (almost 10% of all views) — would be this one, I wouldn’t have believed you. A post about pizza obviously struck a chord with readers. Although I tend to write about more serious subjects, “Papa John’s & the Incredible Shrinking Pizza!” showcases the quirky side (just one side?) of my personality. Hope you enjoy this as much as I enjoyed writing it.
My Love for Pizza
I love pizza! If I could only have one food for the rest of my life, it would be pizza. Hands down. It would come with pepperoni and sausage (pork or Italian). And, given a choice, it would be a thin, NY-style crust. Although I’ve come to appreciate Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, much the same way I’ve come to appreciate Texas brisket-based BBQ (Southern pork BBQ is still the best), I certainly wouldn’t turn it down if that was my only option.
Ever since tasting my first Pizza Hut “Thin ‘N Crispy” as a young lad in central Florida, I have been hooked. It was even after sharing a “Meat-Lovers” Thin ‘N Crispy, following our first date to the Lake Placid Elementary School Fall Festival, that I knew that Brenda, my wife, would be the one! From the standard fare served by national chains such as Pizza Hut, Domino’s, and Papa John’s to the “homemade” pies I’ve consumed at countless mom-and-pop restaurants throughout the country, there haven’t been very many pizzas
that I found inedible. Some have been average, such as the somewhat cardboard-like crust pizzas delivered by PTA (Pizza Transit Authority) to my dorm rooms and the Phi Sig house during my early undergraduate days at George Washington University (prior to Domino’s arrival on the scene). Any pizza I have ever eaten in NYC, including my son Stephen’s favorite, Gotham Pizza in Manhattan, has been top-notch delicious.
My College Fraternity Pizza Experience at GWU
A few pizza restaurants I have frequented may or may not have had the best-tasting pizza (hard to remember that far back), but nevertheless hold a special place in my heart because of the memories that I have from eating there. One such place is the top of the 21st Amendment on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., on the edge of GWU’s campus back in the day (circa 1984-88). It was there that I was invited to join Phi Sigma Kappa Fraternity (Lambda Chapter) in the fall of 1984.
I can’t count the number of times that my fraternity brothers and I would hang out at the top of the 21A, eating pizza and shooting the breeze. I don’t believe that the 21A is still in business (at least at that location), but, it seems like yesterday (not 35 years ago) that I was chowing down on pizza with my brothers. Looking back now as a Baptist Pastor, that the 21st Amendment pizza joint would be a favorite of mine is quite ironic. Some of you may need to Google “21st Amendment” to understand that reference.
My Pizza Discernment
With all of my worldwide pizza-eating experience, including trying “pizza” in Italy (good, but very different), I know a thing or two about good pizzas. As one who has ordered all sizes of pizzas, I also have a passing knowledge of what should constitute a good “large” pizza (outside of NYC large). So, when I ordered three “large” pizzas from Papa John’s one night, I thought I knew the quality and quantity of the product I would be purchasing.
As to the quality, Papa John’s delivered. As to the quantity, I think I may have figured out why they can use “better ingredients” for their “better pizza.” It’s because they apparently don’t have to use as many ingredients on a “large, 14-inch” pizza when the pie turns out to be an inch short all the way around.
I know what a large pizza looks like when I see it in the box. When the Papa John’s employee opened the box to show me my perfectly made, better pizza, what I saw was not a large pizza, but what might pass as a medium-sized pizza. Not believing my seeing eyes, I asked whether or not this was indeed a large pizza. The young man behind the counter assured me that it was. Because it had been more than a year since we had eaten a Papa John’s pizza, I asked when they “down-sized” the pizza. Somewhat flummoxed, he said it had been a while ago.
My Pizza Obsession
Although the box and the receipt on the side of the box said “14 Inches,” I knew that there was no way that this was a 14-inch pizza. Incredulous, as soon as I walked through the door of my house, I took out my tape measure and laid it out across the pizza.
Was I wrong about the size? Did my lying eyes deceive me into thinking the pizza was smaller than it really was? Nope! It turns out that Papa John’s “Large” pizza was only 13 inches. Where was the other inch of pizza? Did it shrink in the cooking process? Was this a mistake by the pizza makers at the local Papa John’s? Or, was the extra inch never there to begin with?
Since the pizza was exactly 13 inches (and not, say, 13.75 inches), I’m guessing that the pre-made dough that is delivered to local Papa John’s franchises does not contain enough dough to make a 14-inch pizza. I could be wrong about that, but nothing that large food retailers or manufacturers do today to cut costs and increase profits surprises me.
I don’t really care if Papa John’s (or any other pizza franchise) advertises a “large, 14-inch pizza” for a certain price. However, when fast-food chains or food manufacturers try to short-change their customers (either intentionally or unintentionally), they should not be surprised when those same customers spend their money elsewhere. And, it’s not just my experience with Papa John’s that has caused me to take notice.
Buyer Beware of Pizza and Pringles
It seems like food companies are constantly downsizing their products while increasing their prices, sure that their customers won’t notice the difference. Several years ago, new Pringles cans were introduced. At the time, Walmart advertised these new cans on sale for $1.00. What a bargain. Except, these new cans were smaller than the original Pringles cans. If shoppers were not paying attention or were not as familiar with how tall a red can of Pringles should be, then these consumers would have paid $1 for a smaller can, thinking they were getting a bargain when in fact it was just more money in the pocket of Proctor and Gamble.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being taken advantage of. If you want to sell me a “large” 13-inch pizza for $9.99 or an “extra-large” 16-inch pizza for $13.99, that’s great. Just don’t tell me you’re giving me an “Early Week Mania” special when there’s really nothing special about what I’m buying. Better ingredients. Better pizza. Papa John’s. I don’t think so!
Just give me a slice or two from any pizza joint in NYC and I’ll be a happy camper. Until I’m in the City again (which may be a long time unless NYC’s leaders can get their crime problem under control), maybe one of my Phi Sig brothers can eat a couple of slices for me. And, don’t forget the pepperoni and sausage.