Canned Tomato Taste Test

Everything you need to throw your own tomato party!

Every month I assemble TEAM SPT for some extreme pizza excitement. Last month’s mission was all about the tomato. We talked some tomato history and genetics along with a tasting of several grocery store brand canned plum tomatoes. Pizzerias need the consistency of tomatoes that are canned in season. They use plum tomatoes because they contain less water than the big round guys. That’s why we need to stay on top of the tomato product universe and all that it offers.


Here are two fresh tomatoes, one from my local grocery store (left) and the other from the Union Square Green Market (right). My grocery store carries Canadian tomatoes that are picked green and gassed with ethylene to redden the skin. It was hard, mealy and off-color. The lovely red tomato on the right is from a farm in Pennsylvania. It was picked when ripe and brought to market within 48 hours. It tasted WAY better! Too bad you can only get these in season, otherwise the canned tomato wouldn’t be such a big deal.


We tried a few different tomato brands in a blind tasting similar to the massive ones I did in 2010. I put different products from the same company against each other. These two products from La Valle are different. The can on the left is DOP San Marzano tomatoes and the can on the right is straight peeled plum tomatoes. The DOP tomatoes are more expensive, but is the taste really that different? 


Miriam and Joe did the tasting, I prepared the test. They were given a series of white cups, each holding a whole plum tomato straight from the can. I labeled the cups A-E and hid the original cans in the kitchen. These tomatoes were right from the can with no rinsing or anything. I wanted Miriam and Joe to taste everything about the product. 

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This is a nice video about my buddy Scott’s pizza box collection. I got to count all 595 of these boxes for Guinness. Some of them twice because I have the attention span of a flea. 


Meet the guy with the Guinness-certified world’s largest collection of pizza boxes

Yeah, so I have the World’s Largest Collection of Pizza Boxes.

Viva La Pizza - Book Tour!

I’m hitting the road this month to bring the pizza box love to a few cities around the US. Each event will feature a talk about pizza and pizza boxes followed by some pizza tasting! I’ll also be eating a bunch of pizza in each city before and after the events to keep in touch by tweeting @scottspizzatour and we’ll meet up!

Monday, November 11 - Chicago Pizza Tour (Chicago, IL)
We’re hitting four pizzerias in 3 hours aboard the Dough Force One. This is a rad tour and I’ve been waiting YEARS to take it. Buy tickets here.

Tuesday, November 12 - 57th Street Books (Chicago, IL)
Pizza talk + tasting from Edwardo’s Natural Pizza. Details here.

Wednesday, November 13 - Comet Ping Pong (Washington, DC)
This one’s going to be extra awesome because we’re doing a pizza box design contest and the winner gets a free bar tab. Plus there’ll be pizza on hand and books for sale via Politics and Prose. Details here.

Tuesday, November 19 - Otto Pizzeria (BU Campus - Boston, MA)
No messing around, this event is AT the pizzeria! We’ll have a tasting and talk about pizza, pizza boxes, etc. It’s sponsored by Brookline Booksmith, so books will be available. Details here.

Tuesday, November 26 - New York Public Library (NYC)
I’ll be giving a lecture about the history of the pizza box at the Mid-Manhattan branch. Details here.

*Keep your eye on Facebook and Twitter for more updates!

Pizza Box Talk on the Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin Show

Check out this episode of my favorite podcast, The Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin Show, in which Jeff and I discuss my new book Viva La Pizza! The Art of the Pizza Box, available in bookstores and internets everywhere Nov 5. We talk about a lot of specific boxes and I thought it might help to post photos of them here. They’re in the same order talk about on the show. Your life hasn’t been this easy since Jeff released enhanced editions.


Here’s the episode guide:

imageWe’re talking about a fantastic NYC pizzeria called Ben’s (on Spring St). Try their Sicilian pizza, particularly the Palermo. As for the box, see if you can spot all the differences between their old box and the new one!


This is the historic predecessor to the modern pizza box. The stufa is made of copper and pointed at the top to allow for better steam release than what we use to transport pizzas today.


Here’s a strange box from the Faroe Islands, an actual country north of Scotland that has funny telephone numbers.


As you’ll hear in the show, Luca Ciancio is my favorite Italian pizza box artist. He’s designed over 250 images like this and they are all amazing. Keep in mind this isn’t for any particular pizzeria, it’s a generic stock box! Much better than the “Hot and Tasty” or “Only the Finest Ingredients” we get in the US.


The Walker Lock is the most common box type. I am in awe of its simple elegance. The Walker Lock is essentially the rollover self-locking mechanism that keeps most of the nation’s pizza safe and secure during transport.


The Chicago Folder is a useful box for thick deep-dish pizzas. It’s more rare than the Walker Lock and costs more to produce.


Jeff and I talk about my favorite new pizza box technology and right now I’m super into this VENTiT box from India. It uses standard corrugated boxes with ports cut into the different layers of paper in such a way that they don’t line up - that lets steam out but keeps heat in! Amazing.

*Listen to the Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin Show for more information about these and other boxes, as well as other non-pizza box related programming.

My Book About Pizza Boxes Has Arrived!!!

I wrote a book about pizza boxes. It comes out Tuesday, November 5 (one week from today). I’m super excited about it.

Viva La Pizza! The Art of the Pizza Box presents over 100 amazing pizza boxes from around the world and tells you everything you ever wanted to know about the history, art and technology of mankind’s most under appreciated art form.

Find out more about the book on my website, which has page previews, purchasing information and book events in YOUR TOWN!

Pre-order your copy TODAY from McNally Jackson (signed copies!), Amazon, or get 40% off with promo code PIZZA when purchasing directly from my publisher Melville House! It will also be available in Barnes and Noble bookstores and indie shops everywhere.

Eating Pizza Every Day Lowered My Cholesterol

I was cleaning out my office today when I found some old blood work documentation. In 2007 I worked a job that kept me mostly at a desk with no constant access to pizza. My TC (total cholesterol) was 182, HDL (good cholesterol) was 52 and LDL (bad cholesterol) was a slightly alarming 116. The results in June 2012, after running pizza tours for a few years and consuming 15-25 slices per week, show TC down to 159, HDL holding at 52 and LDL down below risk level at 95 .

On October 9, the 5th annual Slice Out Hunger raised $20,000 for Food Bank For New York City. We hosted 800 pizzas from 43 different pizzerias, most of which were served by the owners themselves. Everything was just $1, from slices to sodas to desserts. The grand total will sponsor 100,000 meals for the hungry in NYC.

[Photos by Dan Lane, Lindsay Berk and Claire Kelly.]