Cheeseburger pizza a sign of the times

By Michael Hardcastle, COLUMNIST
On April 26, 2012

Picture, if you can, a pizza topped with cheese, meat, lettuce, tomato slices and embedded in the crust 12 cheeseburger patties.

The Crown Crust Cheeseburger Pizza is Pizza Huts newest entry into the arena of novelty foods, an industry thats exploded since KFC horrified and amazed the world with its bun-less Double Down chicken sandwich in 2010. For the health-conscious, chicken filets and barbeque sauce can be substituted for the patties.

But dont go rushing out to the nearest Pizza Hut, because this American pizza chains Frankenstein monster is only available in the Middle East, which is, perhaps, more shocking than the fact that such a thing was created in the first place.

How did such a quintessentially American amalgamation wind up in the Middle East? Perhaps, as was the case with the U.S., increased political freedom is always followed by total anarchy in the fast food sector. The Arab Spring may be followed by the Arab Summer of Obesity.

For better or worse, American dietary sensibilities are spreading across the world. Pizza Hut U.K. now offers a Hot Dog Stuffed Crust pizza. Just add jack cheese and youd have something eerily similar to Cheesy Blasters, a parody food item featured on the NBC comedy 30 Rock in 2009. When joke foods are being unironically recreated in real life, society may have a problem.

Some may dismiss these foods as simple gimmicks, but perhaps they are the end result of consumer capitalism.

The food industry seems to be taking a page from infomercial marketers. In todays consumer society, dozens of products are already available to satisfy every conceivable human need, so marketers are forced to invent needs.

Nobody knew they needed limb mobility while snuggling on the couch until the Snuggie was introduced, and nobody knew they needed cheeseburgers on their pizza until now.

And the tactic seems to be working. Once resigned to the world of carnivals and state fairs, which have valiantly attempted to deep-fry everything under the sun, the art of food recombination has reached the national stage. The Doritos Locos Tacos have been a tremendous success for Taco Bell, which is already working on a cool ranch flavor to complement its nacho cheese taco shells.

An article in Forbes last month suggested the Doritos taco could save Taco Bell, drumming up enough business to help the Taco Bell Corp. which suffered economic setbacks after a large E. coli outbreak in 2007, salmonella in 2011 and the recent lawsuit claiming Taco Bell meat is only 35 percent beef get back on its feet.

Consumerism shows no sign of stopping and seems to be gaining ground in places such as the Middle East. It may have its flaws, but greater choice isnt a bad thing, even if those choices are silly and wholly unnecessary.

Its easy enough to criticize the absurd hybridization of food, but companies wouldnt be dreaming these things up if they didnt sell.

So maybe the world didnt need the Crown Crust pizza, but if the free market has accepted it, theres no use resisting. If it ever makes the jump to America, at least we will finally be able to answer the age-old dinner question, Pizza or burgers? with a confident, Both.

Michael Hardcastle is a senior majoring in creative writing.

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