Ladies and gentlemen, I proudly present the culmination of a dream. Domino’s Japan’s R2D2 pizza box commemorating Phantom Menace 3D is now mine. It took about a week from the time I head of its existence until the moment I held it in my hand triumphantly. It has a safe home in my collection of about 500 amazing pizza boxes.
Scott's Pizza Tour Pizza News
I don’t have many photos of this job since it was 100% undercover.
Delivering pizza has never been a career goal of mine. I suppose it’s a good gig for a college student, but those days have passed. It has always seemed like a unique job, and certainly a position of some significance since over 1 billion pizzas are delivered in the United States every year. To learn more about this corner of the pizza industry I had to go undercover with the industry leader, a company with a great history of success and failure that just so happens to be riding a tall wave at the moment. After filling out an online application, interviewing with the manager, and producing all necessary ID and insurance information, I was hired as a part-time delivery driver at a Domino’s in Brooklyn. None of my co-workers had any idea that I spend my days leading tours to NYC’s top pizzerias and I liked keeping that secret to myself. After all, I was there to learn about delivery from the perspective of the person ringing the doorbell.
If nothing else, I expected a massive company like Domino’s to be extremely organized. Incorrect. After a detailed online interview process, the seemingly tight structure of the organization seemed to slip into utter chaos, with a mandatory orientation that felt like its purpose was to satisfy a district manager rather than introduce trainees to the company and its methods. But I made it through and signed up for a shift the next night, figuring I’d be doing some training. Wrong again. With little more instruction than “bring people their food and then come back,” I went out on my first delivery. Maybe this isn’t the most complicated job ever, but I would have liked some guidance about how to conduct the transaction. Oh well, I guess I’ll just learn on the job.
My first delivery didn’t go too smoothly. I forgot the credit card receipt and a 2 liter bottle of soda. I had no option other than to run back to the Big D for the missing goods and get back on the road. If the “30 minutes or it’s free” guarantee hadn’t been nixed due to several major auto accidents in the 1990s, I would have been in deep doo-doo. Every order comes with a tag that lets the driver know what to deliver, the street address, and an estimated time of delivery. That time is calculated based on when the order was placed, and how many orders are in the system. Guarantee or not, there’s a lot of pressure with that estimated delivery time staring back at you. I found myself driving like a madman, but it seemed necessary if I wanted to get back to home base to grab the next order.
Shift length: 6 hours
Total deliveries: 15
Average tip: $2.53
The more I get into pizza making, the faster I slide down the slippery slope that accompanies obsession. First, there’s the obligatory pizza stone you purchase to simulate the direct heat conduction of a real deal pizza oven. Then there’s the pizza peel to help you slide your potential masterpiece safely and quickly onto the hot stone. Next comes the hot-rodded pizza cutter and serving trays to help with the presentation. Those are the absolute basics, but there seem to be more and more products on the market every day that aim to help the aspiring pizzaiolo creep closer to the big leagues.
Enter the DoughMate.
This simple box is exactly what pizzerias use to store their proofing dough. The only difference is that it’s just HALF THE SIZE — so it fits in the fridge right on top of what looks like a box of leftover pizza in the above photo. Circle of life, my friends.
I used the DoughMate a few times and did what any normal person would do - I joined their facebook group! One thing led to another and the president of the company, Michael Maddan, invited me and Mark Bello (of Pizza a Casa) to take a tour of their production facility in New Jersey. I was pretty jazzed but nothing could have prepared me for the jazziness that overtook my soul when Michael told me his exact location.
It was none other than Cranford, NJ - my hometown.
Allow me to paint a picture. Cranford is a 4.8 square mile town of about 25,000 people. To use some classic NJ terminology, it’s located off exit 137 of the Garden State Parkway. I have taken this very exit at least a hundred thousand times and can recall the journey down the off-ramp with the ease of tying my own shoes in the morning. I know the location of every pothole, the exact position of police speed traps, the best way to enter the Dairy Queen parking lot in order to architect the fastest getaway. Yet I somehow overlooked the fact that I was driving past Madan Plastics, the largest producer of pizza dough trays in the world.
Madan opened in the 1950’s as a manufacturer of injection-molded pieces for just about every industry imaginable. They only entered the dough tray biz in 1988 after receiving a request from a little company called Domino’s. They wanted a stronger box that could handle the physical demand of a high volume pizza business and Madan had the goods. Now every Domino’s pizzeria is stocked with dough trays stamped “Cranford, NJ” on the bottom (Domino’s is the sole carrier of blue dough trays as pictured above and below). The Madan box was so good that eventually other pizza franchises called with requests, but they get the gray boxes.
Michael Madan gave us a great tour of the facility and we learned a lot about the exciting world of injection molding. Michael is a huge pizza enthusiast so we spent quite a bit of time talking about pizza making and pizza eating. Conversation took us past the realm of pizza and we learned the fascinating fact that Michael’s grandfather Ed Madan invented the soft toilet seat. WOW!
I have to be honest, I had never thought much about pizza dough trays but after visiting Madan Plastics I have a new found respect for this seemingly benign aspect of the pizzaverse.
Big thanks so Michael and everyone at Madan for the factory tour. You can check out the Madan Plastics website for more info about pizzeria dough trays and mini “artisan” dough trays for home use.