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Opinion

National Pizza Month, while unnecessary, is a good excuse to chow down

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October 26, 2016

It is finally the time of year for Americans to celebrate the best holiday of all. No, not Halloween, National Pizza Month!

According to pizza.com, this faux-holiday began in 1984 when Gerry Durnell, pizzeria owner and founder of Pizza Today magazine, assigned the month of October as the time to celebrate pizza because that is the month that the first issue of his Pizza Today magazine debuted. Durnell used the holiday of National Pizza Month and his new pizza magazine to promote not only his own pizzeria, but also to help boost the pizza industry in the United States.

Let me be clear: I appreciate pizza as much as the next person, but I think like many of the national holidays the United States has, National Pizza Month is a bit superfluous. I would also add that Pizza Month may also be a bit alarming to me due to the pizza statistics I found on statisticbrain.com, a site that I stumbled upon while researching just how pizza-obsessed people in the United States are.

Statisticbrain.com says that Americans spend $32 billion annually on pizza sales, that we have 70,000 pizzerias in the United States and that 94 percent of Americans eat at least one piece of pizza every month! If those facts do not cause you enough pause, did you know that 350 slices of pizza are eaten every second? EVERY. SECOND.

As wonderful as pizza is, I can reasonably conclude that we are all past the stage that we need to promote pizza anymore. So, sorry Gerry Durnell, but it is clear that America has gotten, and eaten, the pizza message, and that maybe we no longer need a national holiday promoting a food that we are most likely devouring right now anyway.

Ultimately though, I know pizza is an important necessity for a happy life, so please excuse my critiques of a silly holiday so that I may serve up a piping-hot slice of pizza recommendation to you. If you are like most people in the United States, you probably are on your way to get your own pizza fix, so let me suggest that for the sake of National Pizza Month you take a break from your regularly scheduled pizza programming and try out a new place.

Steve’s Pizza Palace is a long-time resident of the River Falls downtown scene, a place my mother went to growing up, and my dad’s go-to “recipe” whenever he feels like “making” dinner. A nondescript exterior with a large, glowing rectangle is all that denotes this pizza palace from the rest of the store fronts on main street. During business hours, that extend well into the night, the wafting smell of hot bread and cheese baking and the sight of pizza dough being stretched right in the front window will get even the wariest through the doors.

The small dining space is often packed with college students, senior citizens and families with small kids who you can often see bounce around on the deep emerald leather booths. Hungry diners crowd around scratched white tabletops when they see their food being delivered by wait staff who deftly squeeze through the small space to lay a giant pizza, just baked, onto your table.

While you scramble to get to the glass shakers of Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes before the rest of the table gets their hands on them, take a look at how the pizza is cut. A signature of Steve’s Pizza Palace is to cut all their pizzas not into slices, but into little squares, which means that there are four perfect crispy, basically-all-crust pieces you will want to grab before your seat-mate has the chance to.

If I really was going to give top-notch pizza advice, and I think this special holiday demands it, I would say to any and all that will listen: Do yourself a favor and order an extra-large Steve’s Special that comes with their homemade sausage. On each square, green peppers and onions on a pizza big enough to confuse as a table cloth.

Steve’s is well worth a visit any time of the year, but with the October drawing to a close, do not waste any time in celebrating National Pizza Month with pizza, pizza and more pizza.

Lauren Simenson is a student at UW-River Falls.