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.

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7 years ago

What the heck? I have never seen that before! :O I live in Sweden and I have never seen such a device before and never in my life have I experienced cheese sticking to the lid. (Not when I was a meat eater and not now when I only eat vegan cheese, neither of them have stuck to the lid)

8 years ago

Most coments here are completely wrong; I just came across with this topic as I was actually looking for someone selling these “little tables”; I just never cared about these plastic piece until I opened a pizza restaurant; everything was ok until my first delivery… When you pile say 3 or more pizzas one on top of the other into the motorcycle box the hot steam makes the cardbord very soft, specially when you pack them inside a thermic bag (required for preserving them hot), so the pizzas on top bend the box into the pizzas below, since the one in the bottom has no space for bending because is actually resting on a hard surface it becomes pressed with the carboard box and ruined.
So plastic pizza savers useless? You tell that to the customers calling at you 10 minutes later after delivery yelling all kind of insults because of their not good looking (ruined) pizza… I like the dough ball idea thoug; I’ll also try to place some kind of thin wooden tables between pizza boxes

8 years ago
12 years ago

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.

13 years ago

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

13 years ago

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.

10 years ago
Reply to  Patti

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…

13 years ago

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
13 years ago

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.


13 years ago

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.

13 years ago

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!?)


13 years ago

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.

Graham Meriwether
13 years ago

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 Terry
13 years ago

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
13 years ago

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.

13 years ago

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.

13 years ago

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.

13 years ago

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).

13 years ago

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.

13 years ago

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.

13 years ago

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.

13 years ago

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.

13 years ago

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
13 years ago

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
13 years ago

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.

13 years ago

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.

13 years ago

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.

13 years ago

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.

13 years ago

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!

13 years ago

… 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.

13 years ago

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. ;)

13 years ago

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

13 years ago

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.

13 years ago

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
13 years ago

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
13 years ago

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 :-)

Condo Blues
13 years ago

My pizza place doesn’t use the plastic thingy. Can you switch pizza places?

13 years ago

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!

13 years ago

Do you mind if I start a Bring Back the Dough Ball Facebook group, reprint your article there and make you an admin?

13 years ago

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!