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41. Grand Pizza

Classification: Traditional

Location: Stillwater, Minnesota

In the 1976 Montreal Olympics, Michael Spinks was awarded the gold medal in light-heavyweight boxing, a rightful reward for his many years of training, sacrifice, and determination. But his path to the medal was eased by both luck and circumstance, as he received a bye in the early round qualifiers, and two of his next three opponents forfeited due to injuries or confusion over the bout's starting time. During his Olympic run, he spent only about ten minutes in the ring, although it didn't tarnish his gold medal, as history would eventually reveal.

So let's examine exactly how Grand Pizza is like Michael Spinks, and also how it differs.

When I scratched out a quick and unstudied list of pizzas that would be included here, I had around 120 possibilities to work with. Oddly, the first draft didn't even include Grand Pizza, mostly due to sloppy mathematics on my part, but as the list matured, the threshold for entry widened. By my second draft, Grand Pizza was placed mid-pack. In the chaos and madness of refining the rankings, I got pretty deep into production before realizing that Grand Pizza was benefitting from a glaring lack of accountability and zero editorial oversight. It was the equivalent of moving up via byes and forfeits. Like Michael Spinks, a couple of fortuitous edits and scribbles made their path a charmed one.

Spinks later went on to achieve Hall of Fame status as a professional boxer, holding the title in two weight classes, being defeated just once, in his final fight against a young Mike Tyson. He's rightfully viewed as one of the sport's all-time greats, and his Olympic medal has been clearly validated over time. This is where Grand Pizza breaks away from the Michael Spinks mold. It never arises to the level of greatness, and its charitable ranking is more indicative of the disarray here at the World Headquarters, perhaps somewhat similar to the chicanery that happens all the time at the IOC. When you're visiting the art galleries and flea markets in Stillwater, sure—drop in for a fairly decent pizza and enjoy its funky art-deco exterior, but when #Pizza100 is made into a movie, Grand Pizza may just end up on the cutting room floor. (6 of 10 stars)

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