The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish
May 25, 2010

We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Plastic Thing in the Middle of the Pizza

You know what I’m talking about. It looks like patio furniture for little tiny people. But it’s not.

package saver little plastic thing in the middle of the pizza

It’s officially called a package saver, or a pizza lid support, and it’s meant to keep the cheese from sticking to the top of the pizza box, although others might disagree:

_your_face: I thought there was some crazy mechanical trick of pizza, that if you pierced just three slices, it would keep the whole sucker together. The idea that they don’t hold the pizza together at all, and is just a tiny table….makes me want to change my major =[

Raziel66: That’s so sad…. I never realized that’s what they were for.

kahoona: They also stabilize the cheese.

draculacalled: You’re all wrong. They are to restrain the pizza from struggling; as pizzas are shipped live.

energythief: They are also there to provide a surface for the toppings to play cards while the lid is closed and in transit. It’s like Toy Story, but greasier and hotter.

Call me heartless, but I really don’t care if my pizza gets to play cards while in transit. So I’ve developed the habit of requesting, “no little plastic thingie in the middle of my pizza,” and in all these years of living without plastic, not once has the cheese stuck to the top of the box. Not, that is, until yesterday.

pizza delivered without the little plastic thing in the middle

Wouldn’t you know the one time I decided to write about refusing the little plastic pizza thingie would be the one time I’d get a pizza with stuck cheese. But is stuck cheese really the worst thing in the world?

Think about it this way… whether you call it a package saver or a pizza saver, it’s a non-biodegradable plastic peegie meant to save a single-use cardboard package (compostable) or a single use cheesy pizza (digestible). We’re using an object meant to last thousands of years to protect something meant to be eliminated within hours. And to protect it from what? Not spoilage but cosmetic imperfection. It’s plastic surgery for food!

Well, if you want your pizza to hold together, there is a plastic-free way to do it (besides making pizza at home, which is probably the best way of all). As Fake Plastic Fish reader Sarah commented two years ago:

Our local pizza joint uses a blob of bread dough baked in the middle of the pizza instead. The only down side is the kids fighting over who gets to eat it!

Item #5,264 on Beth’s To Do List: Call Pizza Rustica — NOT during the rush — and suggest they switch from little plastic Barbie tables to fat, kid-friendly dough balls.  Everybody wins.

40 comments
joang
joang

My mom saves those pizza thingies.  When she bakes cakes to bring somewhere she puts one of those on top so the icing does not stick to the wrapping...

Drew
Drew

We have some local pizza places that just make boxes bigger than their pizzas. No support needed, and no sticky cheese so it's easier on the recycler guys.

Lynda
Lynda

Somebody earlier said that they feel sorry for the guy sitting in design school who came up with this idea. I feel no such pity. That guy now has way more money than me...lol. I think this thing is so small that people just brush it off as pretty much non-existant. If everybody, everytime sent their little table thingy to the same place to see how many pounds of that stuff is circulating thru the world. I think more people would notice the impact that pizza has on the world...rofl

Patti
Patti

When I was younger I used those as tables for my dolls and Barbies- I always looked forward to a pizza delivery for those little tables. They also make fun elements to add to a child's block/construction set.

Dawn
Dawn

If you have kids and forget to request to not have it you can always pretend it is a tiny table. When my parents and I used to go out and get pizza it would sometimes come with it on it (even outside the box) and I would always grab it first to pretend that fairies and such were eating with us. lol.

Life Less Plastic
Life Less Plastic

In Chicago, the land of pizza, they actually don't put those in the boxes. I worked at a pizza place when I was a teenager, and we also didn't use them then. In fact, I think I've seen them only once or twice in my whole life. So funny that they're common in California where everyone is so much more environmentally-conscious. Jeanne

Bridget
Bridget

I'll have to remember to order without; some places here use them, some don't. I'm a vegan so I order my pizza without cheese, so these things are especially wasteful.

Joules
Joules

Surely there's a way to fashion pizza tables out of cardboard, if it's that big of a concern. I like the dough ball idea best, though. (but not as much as everyone's stories about what they used to fight over regarding pizza deliveries - who knew!?) -Joules

Leanne
Leanne

Another thought... Of course, you could just ask for no cheese on the pizza! Then there's no reason for the thingummy, is there! But they'd probably stick it on there anyway! Stupidity is never ending. I mean, really. .-= Leanne´s last blog ..Wet Wednesday - when life is too short for tinned soup! =-.

Graham Meriwether
Graham Meriwether

Love this post. For years, those little plastic tables have showed up in the pizza box. It's been a small little thought in the back of the mind, why? Now, I'll start asking them not to put them on my pizza. Thanks Beth :)

Beth @ Fake Plastic Fish
Beth @ Fake Plastic Fish

Hi George. I understand your point, but I wonder about the logic of creating something that won't biodegrade to protect something that will.

George Dreckmann
George Dreckmann

While I agree that the little plastic things are a terrible waste, I will say one thing in their defense. If they are successful in keeping cheese, toppings and grease off the top of the pizza box it makes it possible to recycle the pizza box lid. For any of you who say I recycle pizza boxes no matter what, shame on you as the grease and fodd pose a significant problem for recyclers.

Nienke
Nienke

I never saw this thing before and I was shocked! This is just ridiculous. So you have to fill your garbage bin with plastic just because of some non-existent problem? Ridiculous. I hope it will never reach my country. (The Netherlands, and no we don't use cannabis to hold the lid up) I now crave pizza.

Christy
Christy

I worked at Pizza Hut (in Canada) for a year and a half, I never once saw a plastic pizza table. I also never received a complaint about cheese stuck to the box. I think some places actually have a design flaw in their box (places like dominoes use really flimsy boxes) where the inside flaps don't actually touch the bottom of the box and the grease from the pizza will also cause the bottom to sag. When pizzas are stacked on top of each other it causes the lower pizzas to lose their cheese to the lid. So I think the key to this problem is actually in the design of the box itself. Check out the Pizza Hut boxes they really have a great box design.

chokingplanet
chokingplanet

The comment from Germany reminds me of a very funny German film 'Lammbock', where two guys deliver pizza with a foil packet of pot in the center of the pie. Probably one of my favorite film (I even have the DVD, which is rare for me).

kanmuri
kanmuri

Most local pizza place around here (Montreal) use the dough ball in the middle. I find that only the big pizza chain use the tiny patio table. .-= kanmuri´s last blog ..Plasticless life =-.

Emily
Emily

Heh - you know we don't get those plastic things in our pizza. Although - my town doesn't compost so the entire greasy box ends up as landfill. The recycling folks do not take pizza boxes. So, I usually make my own pizza - although I would be lyin' if I said I never ordered out. We usually do take-out and I thought it would be a cool idea to have a reuseable pizza box for that purpose.

Andrea
Andrea

Well, for once I'm glad Maine is about 30 years behind the times--I've never seen/heard of such a thing...so silly (but fun furniture for your little dolls)...I can't really think of a stuck cheese incident either, but I think Maine is also 30 years behind the deep-dish craze too. .-= Andrea´s last blog ..A Corner of My Own =-.

Sonja
Sonja

I eat take-out pizza every once in a while, but I've never seen anything like those little plastic thingies....I think it doesn't exist in Germany. And if cheese stucks to the top, so what? we fight over who gets to eat it.

Pheas
Pheas

We order our pizza without cheese (for our health, for the planet, and for the animals), and we haven't been getting the stupid plastic thingy.

Debra Baida
Debra Baida

What I find to be absolutely infuriating about this pizza furniture is that they are so unnecessary - especially these days when most pizza boxes I see around (in the SF Bay Area) are made of sturdy-ish corrugated cardboard. Back in the days of my youth growing up in NJ, pizza to-go used to come in a thin cardboard box that would flop around if you didn't hold it with two hands. We never had such a device, because it was all about technique. So what if the cheese sticks a little to the box top? That's part of the adventure, the joy, and an incentive to transport one's pizza with the care and the respect it deserves.

Jayadeep Purushothaman
Jayadeep Purushothaman

The real solution is to make your own pizza than order it from a shop. Ordering a pizza is just another aspect of consumerist society that has made plastics an unavoidable thing IMO.

chokingplanet
chokingplanet

Well, I generally make my own pizza, and have found that the plastic table is really unnecessary there. One medium cheese and basil pizza costs about two dollars to make, and I know where my ingrediants come from. But, I've gotta say that the ball of dough seems like a great business hook.

Leanne
Leanne

That is the most useless thing in the world. Well, that and those nose blackhead removal strip thingies. Who CARES about the cheese? Part of the fun is pulling the stuck cheese off the lid anyway! But more to the point, who was the poor bugger who spent three years in design school inventing those little table things? What a way to waste your life. .-= Leanne´s last blog ..The fruit tree list is out! =-.

Rob
Rob

PS>>> SO what if the pizza sticks to the roof of the box? When I was a kid we used to fight for box lid cheese. .-= Rob´s last blog ..Solar Powered Tiki Torches =-.

Rob
Rob

I would like to say that I can think of a reuse for the pizza lid support, but alas this is one uneccesary product I can think of no re-use for... except summer furniture for Barbie... and Personally I think that bitch has enough stuff for her malibu beach house as it is. I call dibs on the dough ball! .-= Rob´s last blog ..Solar Powered Tiki Torches =-.

Katrina
Katrina

... plastic surgery for food. That's brilliant! It fits for those plastic egg carton like containers the grocers are selling apricots and apples in too. Those things are not brilliant. Thank you for providing the term for it. Other than crazy. .-= Katrina´s last blog ..Underground Jam =-.

Amber
Amber

I hate those little plastic thingies. I agree, so unnecessary. When I was a kid, our favourite (read: only local) pizza place put little buns in the middle. Sort of like the dough ball, I think. And yes, my sister and I did fight over them. They weren't even very good, as I recall, but that was hardly the point. I certainly didn't want HER to have it. ;) .-= Amber´s last blog ..Antibiotics and Agriculture =-.

Patty
Patty

I played with the little 'table' when I was a kid but I only needed one for that not one from every pizza. haha clizbiz. I wasn't going to say anything but I wasn't only looking at the pizza either! Thanks for the "subliminal messages" Beth, now I want pizza for dinner!!! Or maybe skip the pizza and just have some warm buttery dough....mmm

clizbiz
clizbiz

Thanks to Dan - I will add these wee tables to my bag of caps and such for future recycling. Still, I rarely order pizza so it's not a big deal. And is it sad that my first thought was, "Wow, Beth's pizza guy is HOT." I know, I know. I need to get out more.

Clif
Clif

My pizzas don't come with that silly thing but I thought I might help by calling the New York Times and requesting they stop putting my daily paper in a plastic bag (two bags on rainy days). I explained that plastic bags are an environmental nightmare and that I would far rather have an occasional wet paper than all the instantly useless plastic bags (though I collect them and take them to the grocery store for recycling). I was told my request would be passed on and the real person dutifully made a database entry. Sigh. Part of the NYT automated telephone system allows one to make a complaint if the paper is wet - so apparently that's a big deal. I'd like them to add another option to the call menu - "press 8 if any wildlife has been hurt by a plastic bag today"

Dan Weisenbach
Dan Weisenbach

Although, I would definitely prefer a dough ball! I'll be watching for the facebook group. You would serve a nice Cabernet with a dough ball, right?

Dan Weisenbach
Dan Weisenbach

They're 100% recyclable! You can send them to my company where we grind 'em up and mold the plastic into pollution prevention funnels and spouts to help folks pour nasty fluids (anti-freeze/coolant, cleaners, oil, etc.) without spilling. Include them with your beverage caps and peanut butter lids in the Caps Can Do! program. So, my children used to fight over the little "table" to put their slice of pizza on so we kept spares in a drawer to limit the arguments :-) Cheers!

Condo Blues
Condo Blues

My pizza place doesn't use the plastic thingy. Can you switch pizza places? .-= Condo Blues´s last blog ..Make a Compost Bin Out of a Plastic Storage Tub =-.

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

Tracey, go for it! I love that idea! .-= Beth Terry´s last blog ..ReFUSE Challenge & The Art of Eating In book giveaway =-.

Tanya
Tanya

Great Idea! I like the doughball concept. I went to Mollie Stone's the other day and they were handing out samples of sausages and instead of toothpicks they used pretzel sticks! I thought that was such a cute idea!

Tracey
Tracey

Do you mind if I start a Bring Back the Dough Ball Facebook group, reprint your article there and make you an admin? .-= Tracey´s last blog ..Stop Sunburn and Bug Bites Non Toxically =-.

Tracey
Tracey

I remember the dough bits! We DID look forward to them. So many pizza places have employees and chain ownership. Maybe we should target Pizza Pizza and other chains to Bring Back The Dough! .-= Tracey´s last blog ..Stop Sunburn and Bug Bites Non Toxically =-.

joang
joang

My mom saves those pizza thingies.  When she bakes cakes to bring somewhere she puts one of those on top so the icing does not stick to the wrapping...

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