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78. Totino's Party Pizza

Classification: Economy

The crust is similar to a saltine cracker without the salt or the sturdiness, and the sparsely-scattered cheese does not even resemble actual cheese. The tomato sauce is flavorless, serving only as a cost-efficient bonding agent for the rest of the irregularly-spaced toppings. And the meats are like those “Baby’s First Foods” that you try once, and only once, in your first child’s early development. Toss all of this together and bind it in indestructible hermetically-sealed cellophane and you will have constructed what looks like a stage prop to be used for the dining room scene of a high school play.

And I absolutely love it.

This serves to remind me of a Red Auerbach story. As the crusty basketball sage of the Boston Celtics watched Dennis Johnson, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, and Bill Walton go through pre-game introductions, he concluded, “Those are four very good basketball players.” And finally when the fifth player, Larry Bird joined them after being introduced, Auerbach then added, “Those are five GREAT basketball players.”

And so it is with the humble Totino’s Party Pizza, but even more pronounced, because those are four non-great ingredients that surpass the sum of their collective parts. Once the ten-minute baking cycle concludes, all comes together in a way that defies physics. And the cherry on top (food metaphor!) is that they’re usually available at depression-era pricing. This is a product that succeeds against all reason and logic.

In the spirit of March Madness, I would say it’s comparable to the tiny hyphenated state school that bumps off a power conference school in a first-round upset. It eventually falls short of ultimate glory, but it delivers a satisfying experience along the way. (7 of 10 stars)

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Mar 14, 2020

I went to a place called 'Pizza Studio' yesterday in southern California. Basically, they've taken the Chipotle build-your-own model where the customer berates the employee for putting too much garlic in one single spot, etc., then they bake it for 2 minutes and its ready to eat. May be coming to a theater near all of us soon.

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