January 21, 2010

Get the door: It's a Domino's blog post.

As you may have noticed at the Big Quiz Thing, I don't shy away from trivia from the culinary field (that anagram-food game we played last summer was kind of awesome; I really should post that to YouTube sometime). Food is central to so many people's lives, so naturally there's tons of ridiculously useless information clinging to it.

Yet personally, I am not exactly a foodie. In fact, I have pretty pedestrian (some would say shitty) taste in food, owning a great deal of metaphorical stock in such companies as Bumble Bee tuna and Nestle Quik. I am a culinary tool. And as such, I love Domino's Pizza. I am what I am, but I really enjoy puffy crust and extremely thick mozzarella cheese. Yeah, yeah, what kind of New Yorker am I, but whatever. Besides, I love real NYC pizza too.

Memories of Domino's…

-- When the company had its big cultural moment in the early '80s, everyone was crazy excited about the "you get it in 30 minutes or it's free" guarantee. This was a bad idea: Inevitably, the occasional pizza took more than a half hour to arrive, and the cost came out of the delivery guy's pocket, so the drivers would speed like maniacs, which was a problem for everyone. The policy was changed; you got only $3 off, and I got in trouble in college for telling a joke about speeding Domino's drivers. Sorry.

-- Speaking of college, I ate a ton of Domino's over those four years. Oh, sure, we had "real" pizza places in my college town (ask any Carleton College alum about the legend of feuding pizza brothers Bill and Basil), but invariably, no matter whom I lived with, it was Domino's we called when I got home from play practice and wanted to put off reading another bullshit essay about reception theory. Others—not me, I was a coward—would steal the Domino's trucks when the driver would leave the motor running and go joyriding down the sledding hill.

-- Once, at the quiz, I asked how many dots are on the domino in the Domino's logo. Almost no one got it.

-- I should stipulate: I love Domino's Pizza. I'm not a fan of Domino's other food, but really, who is? Those baked sandwiches look unholy awful, and I actually tried the bread bowl pasta and felt an urge to sacrifice a goat to our dark lord when I was done.

And now, it's all changed. Have you seen this "Pizza Turnaround" video?



Ask Draper and Olson, but there has to be some textbook advertising rule that states "Never make a commercial that includes a customer saying your food tastes like cardboard." So you have to admire Domino's courage, willing to expose itself fully in an attempt to convince us that it deserves reconsideration from the millions of cardboard eaters. (On Slate.com, Seth Stevenson has an interesting essay about this, worth reading.)

So yes, I was intrigued. And last Monday, immediately after the most recent Big Quiz Thing, I tried the new pizza, a medium with mushrooms and spinach (I also had fun using the company's website to order; you get to build your own pizza, and it's a lot less aggravating than when I tried that in a second-grade after-school program). It was thoroughly delicious; I inhaled four slices in quick succession, polishing off the rest cold in the next two days.

However, I'm not sure it's a whole lot different from the old Domino's formula. The spices around the crust were new, that's for sure, but the rest could have easily been the old recipe; chalk my excessive consumption up to the fact that I'm typically ravenous following a successful BQT (remember, I always thought this shit was delicious).

Here's the problem: Now I have a big, greasy box made of seemingly bulletproof cardboard in the tiny foyer of my apartment, and 64 Domino's coupon flyers crammed into my kitchen drawer. Plus, the hankering to eat this artery-clogging, corporate-sellout pizza every day for the next six months, and next time getting that absolutely malevolent-looking chocolate lava cake too. Life is a challenge.

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