The Mysteries of School Cafeteria Pizza, Sort of Solved


There’s a pleasant whiff of Elmer’s glue and hand sanitizer in the air, because it’s back to school week at BonAppetit.com. Every day we’ll be celebrating the good, not-so-good, and artificially-colored snacks of childhood, school cafeterias, and beyond.

A sickly pale square stretches across a thin, metal expanse. Chewy and pliable, the doughy landscape showcases a lukewarm “red” and a curious “white,” burnt brown at the edges. Children beg their parents for the chance to experience its delight, lining up after Science and before English to take in its glory alongside a cold carton of milk and an even colder story about how unfair mom is being. Yes, my friend, we are talking about school cafeteria pizza, a sense memory many of us—though our lives may be disparate and our paths may never cross—share. But exactly how did this exact pizza make its way into all of our lives? And how did it achieve its, let’s say, distinct flavor and texture? Huh. Good questions.

Before setting off to find answers, it seemed wise to consult a few pizza experts. In New York City and beyond, there are few pizza experts better regarded than Bushwick pizza shop Roberta’s rebel chef and co-owner Carlo Mirarchi, who shared his own school cafeteria pizza memory: “Every other Friday was pizza day at my high school. What I do remember about it is that it tasted like French fries and they served it all day, from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. Some kids would be eating these French-fry-tasting, Ellio’s-looking square slices at 7:30 a.m. with a pint of chocolate milk. It was intense.”


There are few Facebook groups more explicitly dedicated to public school rectangle pizza than “Public School Rectangle Pizza,” created on March 11, 2010, with 2,244 fans. The owner of …read more

Source:: Bon Appetit