We all know pizza is universally beloved. Its appeal is proven to span classes, cultures, and geographic borders. Its the Great Unifier. Truly a food for all people. But why?
In order to understand this mass appeal, we need to identify a few of pizza’s most important attributes:
- Super tasty, duh
- Simple: just bread, sauce, and cheese, in its purest form
- Self-contained: you don’t need plates, forks, knives, etc. to enjoy
Its that last bullet, in my opinion, that makes pizza the perfect world-wide meal-time ambassador, sacrificing itself for a little human unity.
We all grab a slice with our bare hands, fold it, and chow down. At this moment, we are all equal. Our common purpose reminds us we’re just one big human family.
Which is why it is so jarring when someone violates this bare hand policy, a policy well-established in the Pizza Code. Much like everyone knows you don’t put pineapple on a pizza (seriously, don’t do it), you also don’t get all high falutin’ and dice your slice into bite-size portions.
This boorish behavior projects an air that you’re too good to get greasy. Pizza don’t play that. Getting greasy is the cost of admission to the greatest food on earth. You pay the price or you order a non-pizza dish, like a calzone…or Chicago-style.
Interestingly, we see this offense most prominently amongst political candidates. For some reason, its a standard activity for these out-of-touch elitists to visit places they could care less about and pretend to be (wo)men-of-the-people by indulging in the local fare. Inevitably, these candidates end up in a mom-and-pop pizzeria and the folksy façade crumbles as soon as they bust out their fork and knife.
In 2014, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio began his term with a fork faux pas in a Staten Island pizzeria. Despite being a native Manhattanite, he showed an alarming disregard for the Pizza Code. Currently, de Blasio has a paltry 43% approval rating in NYC. Coincidence? I think not.
Not surprisingly, Donald Trump is also on the list of offenders. Another native New Yorker who should know better, Trump is a flagrant Pizza Forker. Then again, he also eats $50 steaks well-done and drowned in ketchup and serves fast food at official White House functions, so he’s basically a monster.
Which brings us to former Ohio governor and erstwhile presidential candidate John Kasich. His cautionary tale serves as an example of the ONLY reason its ever acceptable to involve utensils with pizza.
At a campaign stop in the Bronx in 2016, Kasich introduced a fork to his pizza slice and the backlash was swift and merciless. In his defense, he explained:
“Look, look, the pizza came scalding hot, OK? And so I use a little fork,”John Kasich, Pizza Forker
This illustrates a tiny loophole in the Fork Non-proliferation Clause of the Pizza Code. Utensils are permitted ONLY to prevent great bodily harm, and ONLY until such a time as the pizza is cool enough to cause NO WORSE than a 2nd degree burn to the roof of the mouth.
I must admit, I frequently exploit this loophole myself. Partially because I want to spend as much time as possible in the “Golden Moment” when the pizza is the perfect temperature, but mostly because I’m an impatient man-child.
So try to be a bit lenient with your outrage when witnessing a suspected pizza forking. If a fellow diner is just trying to get the jump on a fresh pie and quickly abandons the cutlery in favor of a bare hand, they warrant a pass. However, if that same patron shamelessly slices all the way from tip to crust, by all means, unleash Hell.
The Pizza Code demands it.