The Mysteries of School Cafeteria Pizza, Sort of Solved

There ‘s a pleasant whiff of Elmer ‘s glue and hand sanitizer in the air, because it ‘s back to school workweek at Every day we ‘ll be celebrating the good, not-so-good, and artificially-colored snacks of childhood, school cafeteria, and beyond. A ailing pale square stretches across a reduce, metallic area. Chewy and bendable, the doughy landscape showcases a lukewarm “ crimson ” and a curious “ white, ” burn brown at the edges. Children beg their parents for the luck to experience its delight, lining up after Science and before english to take in its aura alongside a cold carton of milk and an tied colder fib about how unfair ma is being. Yes, my friend, we are talking about school cafeteria pizza, a sense memory many of us—though our lives may be disparate and our paths may never cross—share. But precisely how did this claim pizza make its way into all of our lives ? And how did it achieve its, let ’ s say, clear-cut season and texture ? Huh. adept questions. Before setting off to find answers, it seemed judicious to consult a few pizza experts. In New York City and beyond, there are few pizza experts better regarded than Bushwick pizza denounce Roberta ’ s maverick chef and co-owner Carlo Mirarchi, who shared his own educate cafeteria pizza memory : “ Every early Friday was pizza day at my high gear school. What I do remember about it is that it tasted like French fries and they served it all day, from 7 ante meridiem until 5 p.m. Some kids would be eating these French-fry-tasting, Ellio’s-looking square slices at 7:30 ante meridiem with a pint of cocoa milk. It was acute. ” Intense.
There are few Facebook groups more explicitly dedicated to public school rectangle pizza than “ public School Rectangle Pizza, ” created on March 11, 2010, with 2,244 fans. The owner of the “ public School Rectangle Pizza ” group, no doubt a pizza expert himself, had this to say on May 15 : “ I get a batch of messages about where to buy the beloved pizza. I do not know. So please ease up on messaging me until a solution is found. ”

In my liveliness, there are few pizza experts I am more adoring of, personally, than my 6-year-old cousin Kate, who explained, “ Um. [ School pizza ] is pretty good. But I like my ma ’ s pizza better. ” Incredible.
In the past few years, partially due to Michelle Obama ’ s Let ’ s Move ! campaign against childhood fleshiness and the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, USDA regulations have gotten a piece more rigid concerning the type of pizza drivel you ’ rhenium allowed to feed children in schools. ( Though not so nonindulgent, and more in theory than in exercise. Remember “ pizza is a vegetable ” ? ) This may be why it has become so difficult for a common pizza reporter to get answers about school pizza from some of K-12 cafeteria ’ largest foodservice providers—Aramark, Sodexo, and Chartwells largely successfully fight Congress on the healthy initiatives. They may be doubting of any reporter ’ second agenda, pizza specific or not. Fair adequate. I just wanted to learn about their pizza, however.
After a fiddling jab, Aramark, a Philadelphia-based food supplier that “ provide [ s ] nutrition services for over 2 million students daily and serve [ sulfur ] over 300+ million meals to K-12 students annually, ” sent along some data that I believe you ’ re going to find quite startling :

We offer a variety show of pizza options that meet or exceed all USDA guidelines. As separate of our Aramark FUEL® promotions that introduce students to new recipes and taste profiles while complying with the USDA regulations. Pizzas are made fresh and feature whole granulate crust and broken fatty cheese. There are a few pizza options in addition to the criterion tall mallow or vegetable toppings.

Examples include the Sriracha-Glazed Pizza ( Sautéed peppers and onions, diced chicken, and blend of cheeses, on a wholly texture pizza crust glazed with a BBQ and Sriracha sauce ) and Mac & Cheese Pizza which features seasoned macaroni and cheese with cube wimp on a whole granulate pizza crust .

Sriracha-Glazed pizza ? Mac & Cheese Pizza ? complaisance with USDA regulations mentioned with a frequency one has no option but to describe as “ very leery ” ? Come on ! It seems safe to say that this style of pizza is not the dash of doughy, bland, red-and-white Ellio’s-looking pizza you remember when you think “ school cafeteria pizza. ” Yes, it seems that, to understand the classic “ school cafeteria pizza ” ’ sulfur origin, we may have to look elsewhere. fortunately, a clue is hidden in Aramark ’ s USDA name-dropping. The USDA ’ second 1988 Quantity Recipes for School Food Service recipe book provides recipes for a number of school cafeteria staples : meat loaf, apple wrinkle, fruit salad, chicken patty, and indeed on. Its 320 pages hold the secrets to tastes once offered indeed freely, now lost to meter. But where to find such a document ? In caves on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, possibly ; the papyrus face mask of an egyptian ma, possibly ; in the lost catacomb of our youthful— oh nevermind, you can download a PDF . “ Pizza Crust, ” “ Pourable Pizza Crust, ” “ Pizza With Cheese Topping ” —my friends, we ’ ve hit it big.

Image may contain: Cutlery, Advertisement, Poster, and Spoon Yes, it looks like we may have found her—the pale, hearty pizza of our past. The recipes have since been updated to reflect changes in USDA guidelines, but only ever-so-slightly. The boodle nowadays comprises one-half wheaten flour, the pizza is made with faint mozzarella tall mallow, and while the contemporary versions may not be precisely as we remember them from our youth, they are, at least, the direct descendants of the sallow, doughy hearty we all cherished thus profoundly .Image may contain: Text, Label, Page, Menu, and Plot In the most recent post on Facebook ‘s semi-popular “ public School Rectangle Pizza ” group, the owner writes, “ This page was made as a joke and for nostalgia that I sent to a few friends. It has grown to have a lot more followers than I expected. But intelligibly so. The pizza nourished us through the first separate of our lives. And because of it we grew up right.” indeed. Or, uh. Well. We at least liked it, second then. flush though it was doughy. And soft. And queerly fresh. And bad for us. And, of course, not closely arsenic good as ma ’ s .