Pizza sales were piping hot well before Pizza Hut revealed its hot-dog-stuffed-crust monstrosity in Britain this week, according to research group Technomic.
Now, 41% of consumers say they eat pizza once a week. Two years ago, just 26% did.
That's because restaurants are offering more options beyond the cardboard-y dough and oily pepperoni discs of old, according to Technomic.
Pies now come with gourmet ingredients and fancy pedigrees. Eateries now advertise how the pizzas are prepped – hearth-baked, wood-fired, made over coals or cooked in a brick oven.
Even Domino's has picked up some elitist tendencies, launching its Artisan pizza line in September and last week unveiling an ad campaign informing customers that they weren't allowed to request ingredient additions or substitutions.
When Umami Burger entrepreneur Adam Flesichman opened his 800 Degrees pizzeria in Westwood this year, lines stretched out the door. A sign near the entrance notes that because the pies are made in authentic Neapolitan style, the crust is intentionally not crispy but instead chewy.
In full-service, sit-down restaurants, pizzas come in more vegetarian, or "garden," varieties. At fast-food sites, multiple meat toppings and calzone-style stuffed pies are becoming more popular, according to Technomic.
But take-and-bake and frozen pizzas sold at supermarkets are also seeing improving sales. While 71% of consumers say they eat pizza once a month at restaurants that specialize in the pies, nearly half say they now pick one up a grocery store.
The dine-in option even earned a spoof on SNL this week. In a fake commercial that closely resembles the “It’s not delivery, it’s DiGiorno” ads put on by Nestle Pizza, comedienne
"It's very nearly pizza, but not quite," she says cheerily. "Pizza that's practically pizza in every way, except for a few key points."
Then the pizza inexplicably begins releasing steam, before a slice that's fallen to the floor shatters into shards … which then re-consolidate and slither under the fridge.
Nestle declined to comment.