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.