Iowa’s love affair with gas station pizza, explained

It ’ second merely after noon on Friday as Christina Gigante pulls up to the Casey ’ s General Store on North Pine Street in Davenport, Iowa. It is Gigante ’ south birthday, and she ’ south observe in the most Iowa room possible—by buying herself and her coworkers three Casey ’ s pizza. There are fancier pizzeria around, places with gratuitous amenities like tables and chairs and utensils that aren ’ t wrapped in plastic. But ask any Iowan and they ’ ll tell you : The best pizza in the department of state comes from gasoline stations. ad

If Breaking Bad had been set in Iowa alternatively of New Mexico, Walter White and Jesse would have been cooking up appliance storehouse pizza rather of meth. “ I love it, ” Gigante tells me as she placed the three pizza on her passenger-side induct. “ I can ’ t even describe it. It ’ mho great pizza. ” And in Iowa, it ’ randomness everywhere. Although not every rural township is large enough to support a Domino ’ s or a Papa John ’ second, a good many of them have a public toilet shop. Almost all of those convenience stores–the omnipresent Casey ’ second, the Kum & Gos, the QuikTrips—have a small kitchen with a pizza oven ( or two ). While rival is boisterous, there is a clear-cut peck order. Casey ’ mho is the undisputed king—the most popular and hands-down the best. In a Des Moines Register on-line pate, 85 % of respondents ranked Casey ’ s pizza first, followed by Kum & Go at 7 % and QuikTrip at 4 % .

A Casey’s pizza counter When presidential candidate Beto O ’ Rourke visited Iowa recently, he went straight to a Casey ’ sulfur for pizza, declaring in a tweet : “ Casey ’ s pizza. Breakfast of champions. ” For O ’ Rourke, it was a mulligan stew, of sorts. In May, he posted an Instagram television of himself eating Casey ’ s pizza in the dawn, saying “ We ’ re eating some breakfast pizza mighty now. ” Iowans were agile to point out he was eating regular pizza for breakfast, not breakfast pizza, which at Iowa convenience stores is a thing. It wasn ’ thyroxine quite John Kerry ordering swiss tall mallow on his Philly cheesesteak, but for Iowans, it was close up. possibly that ’ s why Beto is polling at around 2 % in most pre-caucus polls.

There ’ s a argue Iowans get so worked up about their boast post pizza. It ’ sulfur good. not barely cheap-pizza good, but actually, authentically dependable. Casey ’ s pizza dough is soft and aired, creating a crust that ’ s the perfect blend of bubbles and bread, much closer to homemade dough than you ’ ll find in most pizzerias. The unharmed mathematical process is amazingly effective. Order a proto-indo european on Casey ’ sulfur app and it ’ s ready for pick-up 20 minutes late, piping hot and fresh, better than what you ’ ll find at many of the visualize full-fledged pizza restaurants.
The breakfast pizza at all three chains are dramatic, combining scrambled eggs with cheese and bacon ( or blimp ) in perfect greasy balance, rendering breakfast burrito, which more much than not are besides egg-forward, disused. Kum & Go puts hashish browns on its breakfast pizza. At Casey ’ sulfur, you can order your breakfast pizza with blimp gravy as the sauce, the way God intended. ad

All three chains offer versions of the quintessential Iowa pizza—taco pizza—which was invented by Lawrence Joseph “ Happy Joe ” Whitty in 1974 at his felicitous Joe ’ second restaurant in Davenport. The Taco Joe remains the gold standard and the undisputed champ, the state ’ sulfur greatest culinary accomplishment since the loose-meat sandwich. The Casey ’ randomness version has the standard taco pizza toppings—lettuce, tomatoes, greaser chips, cheese and beef—but adds refried beans, an ingredient that was in the master glad Joe ’ sulfur recipe but has since been removed. I ’ m a lollipop for the classics .

QuickTrip’s breakfast slices ad

midwestern convenience stores can besides, however, be models of pizza initiation. Kum & Go adds bacon bits to the standard canadian bacon, pineapple to its Hawaiian Pizza, and Genoa salami to its italian Meat Pizza. Casey ’ mho besides offers a Bacon Cheeseburger Pizza ( with pickles ) ; a BBQ Beef Pizza ; and its newest creation, the Midwest Mystery Pizza, topped with a Sweet Baby Ray ’ s BBQ sauce, Kansas City pulled pork barrel, bacon, and corn. Why no one has thought to put corn on a pizza before is beyond me, but it adds a courteous bouquet and crisp morsel to the pie. Kum & Go has countered with a Chipotle Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza, the ingredients for which are reasonably a lot spelled out in the list.
It ’ s not invention for invention ’ s sake like, say, a fry chicken patty between two doughnuts, or a slot machine pull of the lapp five ingredients to create approximately 2 million similar-tasting menu items, but rather a felicitous by-product of the ongoing convenience shop pizza wars that have raged for decades in the rural Midwest. ad

How popular is accelerator station pizza in Iowa ? In terms of pizza sales, Casey ’ south is fifth-largest pizza chain in the country, trailing only Domino ’ south, Pizza Hut, Little Caesars, and Papa John ’ randomness. A good lump of Casey ’ s pizza sales is to Iowans. The chain, which opened its foremost storehouse in Boone, Iowa, in 1968, now boasts 2,200 Casey ’ s General Stores across 16 states. More than one-half of them are in towns of 5,000 or less, and 529 of them are in Iowa. The chain started selling pizza in 1984 and quickly established itself as the lone pizza purveyor in many rural towns. It built proper kitchens in all of its stores, trained its employees on the art of pizza make, and invested in ingredients. Each pizza crust is hand-rolled, the cheese is 100 % mozzarella, and the toppings taste fresh. ad

“ There ’ s a bunch of love for Casey ’ randomness pizza, ” said Art Sebastian, Casey ’ mho frailty president of digital know. “ If you are 60 years previous or younger and came from Iowa, you grew up with Casey ’ sulfur. ” You besides grew up with Kum & Go, which entered the pizza fray three decades ago. The chain doubled down in 2011 when it revamped its pizza program in answer to customer demand, emphasizing more fresh ingredients and bespoke options. ad

The 60-year-old chain, headquartered in Des Moines, has 400 stores across 11 states, including 103 in Iowa. It sells, on average, a slice of pizza every 2 seconds, and on Friday nights offers buy-one-get-one-free big pizza, catering to Iowans ’ sense of economy and their DNA-level sexual love of pizza. “ It ’ s a tough thing to explain to folks who aren ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate from here, ” says Kum & Go spokesperson Ariel Rubin. “ Honestly, appliance store pizza is just a thing here. I don ’ thyroxine know how to explain it but it runs deep. ” ad