All hail the mighty pizza box that opened the floodgates to the mass circulation of our favorite fast food. We have come to take the pizza box for granted.
The first present-day form of the pizza box was created in 1963. The first patent for a pizza box made of corrugated cardboard was applied in 1963 and it already displayed the characteristics of today’s pizza packaging: plane blanks, foldability without the need for adhesive, stackability and ventilation slots. Today’s fast delivery system along with the first pizza box can be solely attributed to Tom Monaghan, founder of Dominos. The pizza box was in full force as of 1965 thanks to Dominos.
The resulting pizza box has become a standard for the pizza industry right down to the way the box base doubles over itself to lock into the base, known appropriately as “Michigan style”. The pizza boxes by Pizza Hut in Morocco and other countries have a thermometer indicator on the outside which color codes the temperature of the pizza inside. When the pizza is hot, the indicator shows the words “HOT” in red letters on a white background.
The little plastic pizza table or as the industry calls it the “pizza saver” was created in 1985. The pizza saver’s origin goes back to a 1985 patent by Carmela Vitale. The pizza saver is often criticized for being a waste of plastic and is only used once and then thrown away. Most places make a single bun of dough to keep the box in position in the middle. That is what I call a bonus treat! I got dibs!
Many debates throughout the years emerged if the box truly keeps the true freshness of the pizza when it comes out of the oven. True connoisseurs will tell you that the humidity created by the enclosed box tampers with the original taste of the pizza. Many other boxes were tried with different materials, but there is a downside, the cost would drive up the prices of pizza. At the end of the day, it is an elusive quest to get the perfect pizza delivered.
Many will also claim that the pizza does not really remain that hot, to begin with in the box, and the industry is selling us a narrative myth about keeping the pizza truly hot. At the end of the day, pizza is fast food and should be consumed fast. Not too many people complain about eating cold pizza a day or two after. The world and the pizza might be round but we prefer our pizza boxes flat!
In 2019, Pizza Hut created a “round pizza box” in partnership with Zume’s sustainable future of food packaging alternatives to the classic pizza box. The round box alternative is great to fit in fridges. Needless to say, the round box did not take the world by storm. No revolution emerged out of the trial period.
“This revolutionary round box—the result of a two-year journey—is the most innovative packaging we’ve rolled out to date,” said Nicolas Burquier, chief customer and operations officer, at Pizza Hut. “The round box was engineered to make our products taste even better—by delivering hotter, crispier pizzas. This box is a win-win—it will improve the pizza-eating experience for our customers and simplify the operating experience for our team members.”
Fun Fact: The caricature of a smiling mustachioed chef has been a popular feature of pizza boxes for decades. Sources say it dates back to the 1950s, to a hand-painted sign on the roof of Schaller’s Drive-In in Rochester, N.Y., though some claim it dates back even before World War II.