Cheese, Sausage, Mushrooms, Shipping
As editorial page editor for the Chicago Tribune, Kristen McQueary is no stranger to controversial topics. Earlier this year she really went out on a limb by asking readers a question, and on Twitter no less:
“Need your advice: I’m shipping deep dish to my grandparents in Ft. Myers. Do I go with Giordano’s, Gino’s East or Lou Malnati’s?”
I think it is time for my annual pizza column.
If you want to start a fight in Chicago, express an opinion about pizza. If you want to start a fight in cyberspace, pose an innocent question. If you want to start a fight with those who are opinionated, vocal, and of limited vocabulary, use Twitter. McQuery did all three.
Most every place on earth has a favorite regional food, and most everyone has an opinion about it. Next time you find yourself in Germany or Poland, try innocently asking about putting caraway seeds in sauerkraut, then sit back and watch the sparks fly.
Chicago-style pizza is controversial the world over. Just ask a New Yorker. Even Chicagoans can’t agree what exactly constitutes Chicago-style pizza. Is it deep dish or stuffed? How much cheese? The rest of the country may not believe it, but thin-crust pizza is also tremendously popular in Chicago, thus adding to the controversy.
Chicagoans (and anyone within a 150 mile radius of the city) can argue forever about pizza, and thanks to social media, they do.
Everyone has their favorite pizza place. Everyone has their favorite pizza recipe. And everyone, and I do mean everyone, is certain that everyone else is wrong.
But wait, there’s more. There is always more to the story in Johnson’s World.
McQuery didn’t ask the Twitterverse to name their favorite pizza. What she asked about was the best pizza for shipping a thousand plus miles across the country. By adding that one caveat to her question, she completely changed the conversation.
Let’s take a look at some of the comments, shall we?
“For shipment, Lou Malnatis. Perfected shipping.”
“Do Lou's on Taste of Chicago. All done on-line. Shipped on dry ice. Will deliver frozen ready to cook. Used to send to Florida all the time. Even specify delivery date. More you send, cheaper it is as shipping stays the same.”
“From first-hand experience, Lou's frozen shipped stuff bakes the best and most authentically.”
“Lou’s. Used them several times to ship pizzas to my parents in Florida. No issues.”
“Lou To Go is the way to go.”
“Lou’s - I just sent some to my in-laws for Xmas.”
“Lou’s has the most experience shipping pizza nation-wide.”
“Agree. Lou has been doing this about 20 years.”
As you can see, Lou Malnati’s won, hands down. Not necessarily as the best pizza in town, but as the best pizza for shipping out of town. By perfecting long-distance shipping (an entirely different animal than local delivery) Lou’s expanded its market from its home region in the corner of one state to the entire nation.
Looking for new markets? Tired of the same ol’ conversations about quality and price? (Notice that price was never even mentioned in the pizza postings.) Think: is there a simple action or additional service that will take out the competition?
What can you do to change the conversation?