Friday, January 24, 2014

Motel Management Recommends - Searching for the perfect SCHOOL pizza!


Okay, so here's the deal. When I was a kid, the best thing they could serve for lunch at school was pizza. Naturally. I mean, what's better than pizza. Maybe chicken when prepared properly by myself or the Colonel, but that's about it. Pizza is just, well, it's pizza! Right guys?



Ha, Mikey likes it!

Anyways, well, not only was it the best day of the week when we would actually get it on the menu for lunch at school (might have been every Friday, but I'm not 100 percent on that), but I also remember it as being the most kickass pizza ever! Ya with me on this, folks? Okay, maybe not everyone agrees, but then not all school pizza is the same, as I found out very recently. This is the brief story of my search for one of my most cherished memories, that kickass school pizza I grew up with.

Now, first I should say, this is not the only article online about this subject, so I'm not the only person who's become obsessed with re-experiencing that delectable delight of the school cafeteria. In fact, a couple of those websites were used as my guide on this search. But, I'm getting ahead of myself. A little history first.

As a kid, I usually brought my lunch, so I didn't get to enjoy the school pizza as much as I would have liked, but occasionally, I did. It was amazingly delicious, even with milk! Plus, you usually got a peanut butter cookie with it, so ya can't beat that deal. I think there was some other junk on the tray too. I forget. In junior high, that same great meal continued to be served, but there was some competition. The evil, little PAN pizza. It was in the snack bar area; the little money-making side project of school cafeterias in junior high and regular high school. It was a buck for this round item by itself, and it was the pizza the popular kids ate.


And, I'll be honest, that little pan pizza was pretty delish, but it didn't have nuthin' on the classic school pizza I knew and loved. It was just sooo incredible, but once I was out of high school, that was it! No more amazing, fantastic, wonderful, delicious school pizza! What would I do?

Oddly enough, I got to eat this yummy school pizza one more time, at a bowling alley no less. It was the birthday party of a younger family member, and that's what they served, the classic school pizza! Somehow, this place knew where to get it! It was the exact same thing, it tasted the same, looked the same, and it was fantastic! Plus, we got to take extra home with us! That was sometime when I was in college. I remember because I was most heavily into Sailor Moon at the time and had also just become a big fan of the movie "The Big Easy", which I watched that night after the party, probably with more of that heavenly pizza. But, even that was a long time ago.

So, not so long ago, I realized I might have a chance at finding a source for more of this pizza I greatly missed by using that all-knowing, all-powerful source for good or evil, the internet. I did a search. This wasn't easy. There are millions of kinds of pizza, and even searching "school pizza" isn't always too helpful. In fact, I don't think I found anything the first time I tried it, which was probably also several years back. But, more recently, I found some solid leads in the form of sites like noshcookbook.com, and I recently, finally started pursuing them. 



I was amazed to find, all of a sudden, that tons of people like me were talking about how they missed their old school pizza and how they wanted very much to taste it again. The biggest puzzler for me though, was that they all described it as rectangular or square pizza. I always remembered it as boat-shaped. In fact, I was very sure it was boat-shaped, but I assumed my memory was playing games with me, as it sometimes does. I mean, no one else was talking about boat-shaped school pizza. Everyone online seems to be talking about rectangular school pizza, with pics to back it up (as seen above)! Okay, fair enough, so how do I get me some! I was craving it like a junkie!

Well, the easy route many suggest is to go to the store and get some Ellio's frozen pizza. I'll admit, it looks like the pizza in the pic above, though that does not mean it tastes the same. Anyway, I wasn't able to find any here in Austin. At least not at the places I usually shop. Doesn't matter, I wanted the REAL thing. What was the real-thing? According to sources like the site I mentioned a minute ago, the real maker of rectangular school pizza is "Tony's", and you have to order it in a $50 dollar case from Schwan's, which you may have to pick up from a local food distributor (though since it is sold on Amazon, I'm sure you can have it shipped to your house if you buy through them; plus, I saw Schwan's delivery trucks in my old neighborhood all the time!). Now, 50 bucks is a lot, but then they give you a lot, and who wouldn't want a case of classic school pizza? Probably wouldn't fit in my little freezer though... Well, I was all set to order. Later on, anyway, when I could spare the 50 bucks. Let me say though, I'm glad I didn't. But, I'm getting ahead of myself again.

The rectangular school pizza put out by Tony's, by the way, is called commodity pizza. To put it simply, it is some cheaply made stuff with low fat cheese and the like. Now, knowing I wouldn't be ordering a case of Tony's till, maybe sometime in the summer, I took another glance at my local grocery store last week to see if maybe they did have some Ellio's and I'd missed it. Nope, but they did have this...


Now, I may have confused the name EconoMax with the description "commodity pizza" that I had read online before, but this being the cheapest pizza I could find, and considering it had the little square pepperoni pieces (like the school pizza I remember), and I believe it said low fat cheese or something like that, I thought, "Hey, this might taste pretty similar to school pizza, so I gave it a try.


No dice. EconoMax pizza did NOT taste like school pizza. And it wasn't even as good as the slightly more expensive (but still well under 2 bucks) Totino's Party Pizzas, which I honestly, secretly love. Okay, this was a dumb try, but it led to THIS discovery!


That's right, all of a sudden I noticed Tony's at my local H.E.B. supermarket! This was supposed to be the company that actually made the school pizzas! And, okay, again, this was a round pizza, but so what? Also, this read crispy crust. I don't remember school pizza having a crispy crust, but it's all in the cooking.



Ooh, photobombed by my new Sailor Moon figure! Yeah, that's the one that's wildly popular right now. They're not cheap, but I really wanna get the other scouts as they are gradually releasing them currently, but I digress. There's the cooked pizza. Not the prettiest thing in the world, and it was super cheap, so, hey, maybe this IS school pizza! Unfortunately, no. It just tasted like another cheap, frozen pizza. In fact, not as good as the other cheap frozen pizzas I'd tried so far (I'll stick with Totino's!).

This was discouraging, because this was the right company, so the basic taste should have been... basically  the same! What now? Do I really wanna take a chance and spend 50 bucks on a case from Tony's later on down the road?

Luckily, I didn't have to! Another freakish act of nature! I was at work today, and what do I see for the first time ever in one of the snack machines?!!! A single serving of Tony's RECTANGULAR pizza! Now this HAD to be the same one being served to kids in schools across the country!


I immediately purchased one from the machine to take home and test out!


It was an exciting moment! It looked like all the pics online, though I could have sworn it was boat shaped when I was a kid...


Actually, this looked nothing like what I personally remembered. Let me taste it... 

Nope. This ain't it.

Apparently, this IS the school pizza kids across the country grew up with. though it probably has more cheese on it when you buy it by the case, where it is sold in large, prescored sheets that you can cut into several rectangles of this size. And there it is, now available in an individually wrapped form. Man, I thought I was going to be able to have it for lunch whenever I wanted again, right there in the workplace! But, no such luck. Tony's rectangular commodity pizzas may be the school lunch pizza many, many kids across the country remember (and now you know you can get it individually, maybe right where you work!), but it is NOT the school lunch pizza I remember. And, honestly, I'm not sure why any kid would dream about revisiting this pizza. It wasn't very good. It was just another frozen pizza, and not very tasty at all. I guess nostalgia is a powerful thing. Or maybe the ingredients ARE a little different in the ones they sell to schools... I don't know, but I do know now that this is NOT the pizza I was looking for, and I'm glad I figured that out before shelling out 50 bucks for a case of them!

So, what about MY school pizza? What about MY cherished, edible memories? I want them back, dammit!

And, what's the deal? Were they boat shaped or not? Well, someone pointed out to me today how the TV show "The Wonder Years" made mention of "Boat Pizza" on the school lunch menu. Was my school district just old fashioned, selling 1960's style commodity pizza? Did they even have that in the 60's? "The Wonder Years" aired when I was about the same age as the lead kid, in the late 80's in junior high, so maybe they were just trying to make a connection with the viewers of the same age. Then again, apparently everyone else in the country was eating Tony's rectangle pizza, so I don't know. I'm very confused, but at least this confirmed for me that there WAS boat-shaped pizza, and that's what I'd been eating. Basically, French Bread Pizza was the commodity pizza we were being served in the Rio Grande Valley, the city of McAllen in deep south Texas. It tasted nothing like Tony's and didn't really look like it. I have to assume it wasn't from them. It looked something like this:



Yeah, that's the stuff, WITH the pepperoni, which I had to add to that top photo using Photoshop, ha. The bread was soft and warm, the sauce was plentiful and delicious, and the toasted mass of cheese and square pepperoni on top could be removed and eaten on its own if you wanted. Sooo yummy! Yeah, man, THIS is the pizza I grew up with and got hooked on! This is the pizza I am still trying to find again today! Does anyone remember this? It was amazing, especially with milk, some buttered corn, and a peanut butter cookie! How I wanna sit down for an evening of some cartoons and that food on a hard, plastic tray!

So, I now leave it up to you, good readers. Any of you remember this kind of school pizza? Anyone know where I can get some? I suppose I'll be trying Yahoo Answers next, though I'm sure I've posted about this before long ago. Surely someone who works in the school system must know. And it's not as simple as going to the grocery store and buying French bread pizza. It all tastes different (and the pepperoni has to be the little square kind). I think Tony's even makes French Bread Pizza like this, but I'm pretty sure it's not going to be the right one. So, the search goes on, and I'm looking for anyone out there who might know a thing or two about this to throw me a bone. Do they even still have pizza like this at school anymore? Leave a comment if you have anything useful to contribute, and thanks for reading.

And come back soon. I'm thinking we might be having Disney week next week, where I bore you all with my vacation slides a little more everyday! Till then! TTFN, TGIF, and all that good stuff! Boat-shaped school pizza, WHERE ARE YOU?!!!! AAAARRRGGGHHH!!!!!

1 comment:

  1. Gordon Food Service carries a lot of school foods.... might wanna try seeing if these are them below. We had those pizzas in school 15-20 years ago... they called them "pizza boats." Here's the GFC info: "French Bread Boat 3 chs" by Best Express Foods. Item number: 608450 package size: 60 pizzas each 5.3 oz. Maybe you could look up Best Express Foods, e-mail them that picture of the pizza boat and ask them if they make them or not before contacting GFS.

    ReplyDelete