Tag Archives: pizzas of the world

Finally, after weeks of nothing but modern, Luigi-less pizza boxes, we have a return to oven fresh classicism:

Thank goodness. This really kicks the pants of that boring Kashi box, right?

Since he’s the clear focal point, I’ll start my analysis with the cowboy-booted Italian stereotype. What’s not to love? He’s jaunty AND well-dressed: flashy oversized bow tie/scarf, giant chef’s hat, striped apron, and a well-groomed mustache. Sartorial elegance.

Question: I’ve noticed these bow tie/neckerchief things on several other pizza box chefs, but I’m too ignorant of fashion in general to understand what they’re referencing. Is this an article of clothing an actual chef or Italian person would wear? Seriously, peanut gallery, chime in if you know the answer. It’s important for TAOPBGD (which is real).

Other Design Notes: The fonts? LOVE. I’m going to make a design confession: I know that minimalist sans-serif fonts are all the rage these days, but I have a soft spot for old-school crazy typefaces. While the vintage fonts on this box are kind of aggressively tacky, they’re also making a bold design statement — and I can get behind that. Double love to the “Pizza” font for the roller coaster inspired swirls and loops. It’s like an amusement park ride for your pupils!

Generic Product Claims: Oven Fresh, an old favorite. We also see the return of the mysterious ellipsis (…) between “Thank you” and “for your business.”

Overall Rating: Truly a vintage box. Makes me want to order a whole pie and play Sega Genesis games all night like it’s 1995.

How much pizza can I eat? Apparently, a lot. Rather than slice up the last few months of pizza eating into a whole bunch of individual posts, I’m stringing a bunch of them together into the blog equivalent of a whole pie. Bon appetit!

First, some entries for The Anthology of Pizza Box Graphic Design:

Kashi Frozen Pizza

A perfect example of bland big box health food marketing, with prominently displayed nutrition/diet information and a big, boring photo of the food you’re about to buy. But then, Kashi’s marketing has always annoyed me. Is there anything more smug than, “7 whole grains on a mission”? It’s convenience food, people. Not a commitment to world peace.

Box gets a failing grade. The pizza itself was just eh.

Enrico’s Brick Oven Pizza

We picked this one up in Sturbridge after a day of gawking at antiques.

Overall Design Assessment: The box is definitely more casual restaurant than vintage pizza joint. Disappointingly, it doesn’t feature a cartoon Italian stereotype OR a generic product claim. It does, however, possess several traditional pizza box design elements — namely, the wacky title font, green and red color scheme, and repeating brick pattern.

My favorite element, though, is the insecure use of Italian:

“Excellent Italian Insalatas (salads)”

Parentheses to the rescue!

Pizza Amore

Food with heart. And a pizza box design with a wall o’ text.

Overall Design Assessment: There’s not much to comment on here given the (almost) complete lack of graphics. The little heart is cute, though.

Generic Product Claims: Instead of a generic product claim, there’s an awesomely redundant one: “daily homemade fresh pita.”

And now, an announcement of sorts…

Along with the help of a hand-me-down pizza stone and an elderly electric oven, I have begun to experiment with homemade pizza. Behold: Baby’s first three pies.

Attempt #1: Frozen Dough

I avoided the mistake everyone makes (too much sauce) and embraced the one that involves scraping your pizza stone for 20 minutes (too much cheese). Edible, but not yet sublime.

Attempt #2: Homemade Dough

Black olives and onions were my favorite toppings as a kid, so it seemed like a good choice for this, my first truly homemade pie.

I got the recipe for the dough from Jaime Oliver, omitting the optional cornmeal flour (I didn’t have any). The dough wasn’t rising at first, but a few minutes of googling revealed the problem: a chilly kitchen. I ran the oven for a bit and it popped right up.

The crust came out surprisingly good, especially given the elderly oven’s random hot flashes.

Plus I was able to restrain myself with the cheese. Inch by inch…progress.

Attempt #3: Highbrow Pie

My best attempt by far. This pie has a blend of mild cheddar and mozzarella and a topping of heirloom cherry tomatoes. The homemade dough seems to fare well in the freezer, which is good news since I didn’t notice until after I dumped all the dry ingredients into a bowl that the dough recipe makes 8 DOUGH BALLS. Oops. Guess we’ll be eating pizza for a while.

This pizza/box combo came from a little place called Dial-A-Pizza. You heard me right: Dial-A Pizza. I totally love it when a business chooses a novelty name (say, to capitalize on the new and exciting concept of pizza delivery) without realizing they’ll be stuck with it FOREVER. We did in fact dial the order in, so I guess at least it’s still accurate.

The meal itself was enjoyed among rum and friends, making it one of my favorite pizza experiences. But this is a serious design blog (cough) so we should get to the box analysis.

Overall Design: I’ll come right out and say it: this is somewhat of an ugly pizza box. The colors, the generic font, the sloppy linework — it just doesn’t do anything for me. Another issue of concern is the pizza toppings. I’m seeing line drawn mushrooms and…abstract blobs. Having gone to art school, I know artist’s fatigue when I see it: You’re drawing some boring still life (like pizza toppings) and getting kind of tired. So you stop rendering and start slopping on geometric shapes, telling yourself it will look good once you step a few feet back. It doesn’t but you’re so sick of it you just hand it in anyway.

Yes. That’s what has happened here.

Italian Stereotype: I looked long and hard at this one. My conclusion is that, even though there’s a puffy chef’s hat in play, this is NOT an Italian Stereotype. The chiseled jaw…the mostly straight hair…this is a white dude. Maybe when the graphic designer went for the folder of rotund chef clip art he accidentally grabbed the one of 50’s milk delivery men.

Generic Product Claim: One of my favorites: Oven Fresh. Not only is it incredibly generic, but it’s also essentially meaningless. All pizza is not only made, but also reheated, in an oven. By the logic of modus ponens: If the pizza is hot it must be oven fresh. The pizza is hot. Therefore, the pizza is oven fresh.

Ideally, it goes something like this: it’s dinner time and you decide to skip the bla-ness of cooking your own food and eat out. You remember there’s a brick oven pizzeria just minutes from home. You choose something classic and classy – a Margherita or a white pie with garlic. You pop open a bottle of cheap wine and, voila, inexpensive perfection.

But then there are those times when you’re trying to leave the house for a long weekend. You’ve overslept and haven’t even begun to pack. You’re throwing a bunch of stuff into your toiletry bag and hollering at the cats to stop chewing on the suitcases and thinking,  “We cannot be any more late than we are right now…”

…until Mr. Max tells you that a wild animal has somehow gotten into the attic and died, and you’re looking at three hours of unplanned DIY decontamination before you can even think about leaving.

For times like these, there’s Original Pizza of Boston.

Why? 1) It is food and 2) It’s right on the highway.

Mr. Max thought it tasted like the pizza you get at Chuck E. Cheese. I’ve never been to Chuck E. Cheese, but it did remind me of pizza I had once at a roller rink. Because it was late afternoon and we hadn’t eaten anything all day, it was automatically delicious…in a gross, rubbery sort of way.

The box is what you would expect from highway fast food: thin, disposable, and single use.

Visual Assessment: Red and white = classic pizza. Red, blue, and white = Dominos. Red, green, and white = Sbarro. This pizza was basically a Sbarro knockoff, so the packaging was accurate, if a little derivative.

Italian Stereotype: There’s no generic product claim (Hot, Fresh!), but the Italian stereotype’s got enough character to make up for it. He’s fat, he’s got a chef’s hat, and he’s throwing a pizza pie (with sauce, no less) into the air.

Wait, what’s that?

Is that a little…QUESTION MARK hidden in the sauce pattern?

Wherever you are, subversive graphic designer,,,you rock.

Won’t you take me to…Pizza Town? Why, there’s plenty to do! We could roll out some dough, or trellis some tomato plants, or even take a stroll down to the pizzeria. The only thing we can’t do is…leave. </Twilight Zone>

Visual Assessment: Well, it’s another weird exterior scene. And why are there no people on the street? Is everyone inside, huddling in fear of the mutant giant pizza pie? And what about those M birds flying in the sky? You know, M birds — the tried and true artistic technique of showing distance by…drawing an M and saying it’s a bird.

The overall impression is that someone blew up Word clip art (see also: Clip Snark) and affixed it to the box.

Final Observation: Have you ever seen an artist’s signature on pizza box design? Now you have.

Nothing takes you out of the present moment like a plate of food cooked by someone else.

Mid-way into a difficult day I decided to treat myself to a decadent restaurant lunch. Time constraints turned my fancy solo lunch into a slice of pizza eaten in the unseasonably warm sunshine. By taking it to go, I got myself a bonus prize: a single slice pizza box.

Single slice pizza box with cigarette butts and leaves, Attempted Blogger, 2012.

Visual Assessment: Don’t let the triangular form throw you; this one’s still a 100% classic pizza box, right down to use of “pizza box red” and a font reminiscent of bygone 70’s sitcoms like Three’s Company. In fact, the design is SO kitschy that it reminds me of one of those fake vintage T-shirts you get at the mall. You know, the ones with silk-screened text that says “Jack’s Tackle Shop” or the name of a high school sports team in Minnesota.

Generic Product Claim: A slice is a-nice. Well, maybe they don’t have the a- in there. But don’t you automatically read it that way, given the line art Italian stereotype poised beside it?

Italian Stereotype: He’s a real peach, and he’s even winking at me!

Well, I knew TAOPBGD would come full circle eventually. These two recently acquired boxes have designs we’ve seen before. What can we learn by giving them a studied second look?

Rerun #1:

I first reviewed this Hot & Delicious design all the way back in the very first TAOPBGD post, and I still feel like that center chef is giving me the stink-eye. Side note: Do you think they depict pizzas as being in brick buildings to make you think of brick ovens, and therefore deliciousness? Or is it just a nostalgia inducing thing?

Rerun #2:

Fresh Dough Daily Part II. The first time I saw this design, it was on brown cardboard and the pizza in it was somewhat similar in taste and texture. This time, it had a white background and the pizza was pretty spectacular. Guess you can’t judge a pizza by its box.