This insult comes straight to you from the same blackguards who foisted “restaurant-quality” Tuscani pastas and the P’Zone onto the world.
Where does my bile spill first? Let’s start with the claim: “A pizza so big it never ends.” Really? Eagle-eyed observers will note the final image of the product, which shows (sneakily) that it’s actually two pizzas in one box. No crime there, but why the deception of calling it one big pizza? The name “Panormous” is only meaningful if we’re getting a giant pizza. You don’t tell someone, “I’m giving you a crumb-normous cookie,” then present a tray of Toll House minis.
But big is big, right? One pizza or two, what’s the difference? Well, there’s a big difference if you were hoping for some “inside” pieces, you know, the ones with no crust. The two-pie layout ensures that every slice will have at least one edge of bready crust. If you like crust, it’s a boon. If you don’t like crust, or at least enjoy variety, it’s a boondoggle.
And there’s the quick splash that informs us that the pizza is “over 40% bigger” than their large pan pizza. I’ll forego the math, but it’s quite clear that 40% bigger means that, individually, each of the Panormous twins is smaller than Pizza Hut’s large pan. So is this really their “BIGGEST pan pizza ever,” as the box proclaims? Or is it just two smallish pizzas combining to form one ungainly gestalt? It would be like claiming that Devastator is the largest Decepticon. The Panormous doesn’t even combine as elegantly and seamlessly as the Constructicons did.
And while we’re on the topic of pan pizzas, I’ll be fair and say that I’ve enjoyed Pizza Hut’s version of pan pizza in the past. But those were their round pizzas. The Panormous is two rectangular pizzas cut into square slices – the term “square pizza” will do. Historically, the square shape has been most closely associated with pan pizza. For another example, the “Papa’s Perfect Pan,” which actually is a square, from that other pizza peddler for the undiscriminating masses, Papa John’s.
To me, the squareness of the Panormous is the biggest insult of all, at least 40% bigger than their other insults. Do they take me for an utter fool? Maybe they thought I had never had square pizza before, and so they could bamboozle me with a novelty both exotic and rare for most people. Message to unscrupulous hucksters: I am not fooled by your baloney.
The only square pizza worth the pan came from the long-defunct San Diego chain, Square Pan Pizza. This local chain had shops in several malls around the county, and as a child, my mother would take me to the College Grove shopping center, where I was often treated to a few slices of Square Pan, while she shopped at Mervyns, another now-defunct institution. Now, I’m not saying that sentiment and time gone by haven’t provided a little extra seasoning to the Square Pan flavor. But it truly isn’t the taste that I miss most, or even remember most.
To me, Square Pan marked a more generous time, or at least a less cynical time. This was not an era where a pizza chain would offer a “555” deal, and deliver three undersized, desiccated, cheese-impoverished flatbreads. This was not an era when that chain’s competitor would copy the cheapskate formula, dumbing down their quite acceptable regular pizza to create the “Pizza Mia” – a bread wheel so meager of cheese, toppings, and heart that I vowed never to go back to those soulless charlatans.
Time was, a hardscrabble family would be awash with coupons for two large pizzas with two toppings each (at least two toppings, and sometimes, one of them would be a specialty pizza) for under $15, including tax. Yes, it would be the chains, Pizza Hut primarily, but others, notably that old Roman, Little Caesar’s, would dish out more than edible fare for a palatable price. Nowadays, those same chains (here, Little Caesar’s remains a welcome exception with their $5 Hot ‘N’ Ready large pepperoni or cheese pizzas) shove toasted plywood down your throat and tell you it’s a bargain.
Okay, so con men will try to fleece people by any means necessary, and have done so since man learned to scratch himself. But since when did we start being okay with this kind of treatment? I’ve been asked why I keep haranguing against the Panormous. Why not just ignore it? Because it makes me mad. As a wicked but insightful villain once said, “We live in mediocre times.” But mediocrity should not be celebrated!
Can’t we demand more of our pizza purveyors? Yes we can! Can’t we show them that we won’t be hornswoggled into choking down their overpriced leavings? Yes we can! Can’t we tell the world that enough’s enough and we need to bring back Square Pan Pizza? Yes we can!
If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible. . . I remind you, even the New Kids on the Block came back.