What happened to the pizza dough ball?

It’s a Montreal thing–and a darn clever one at that. It’s simple, practical, sustainable, cheap, and edible. It is a ball of pizza dough, placed at the center of the pizza before cooking, that protects the pizza from the cardboard cover. And yet, it hasn’t caught on. Instead, people gush over something that is wasteful, unsustainable, and proprietary: a plastic tripod that is made in China and shipped to pizza shops all over the United States.

Pizza with plastic tripod

There is a better (and tastier) solution

Yes, I know. Take-away pizza is hardly the smart choice to reduce one’s carbon footprint. Those boxes they come in (not to mention the fuel to bring your cheesy pie home) are sinful. But, at least the box is compostable–that plastic tripod has no redeeming feature.

The expense of those tripods alone puzzles me. Its almost like we want to be wasteful.

Yet there is a simple, sustainable option: the pizza dough ball.

And so, while waiting for my pizza at Fresh Brothers, I found my calling. I am going to nag, pester, annoy, and shame pizza shops–starting right here. So, I asked the store manager about the store’s sustainability practices. I asked if he had heard of the pizza dough ball. I searched my phone to find an image of a pizza dough ball. I asked how much those plastic bits cost, and about storage and transportation.

The manager humoured me, took my email address and promised a response. I am still waiting. I think, I could use some help.

Unless you really believe that the bottom of the pizza box really that much more sanitary than the lid that we’d need to insert a plastic tripod in the center of our pies, would you help me convince pizza joint owners all over the world to change their practice?

Especially since that cooked ball of dough is rather tasty with a little bit of salt and parmesan.

(To see what the dough ball looks like, visit http://benlefthome.blogspot.com/2011/01/pizza-update.html)

Looking for other wasteful creations for your pizza? Look right here: http://www.yankodesign.com/2012/02/15/neat-pizza-fingers/

and here: http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/07/the-3-big-advances-in-the-technology-of-the-pizza-box/242116/

And if you don’t believe that people gush about those tripod things, just read an excerpt from this book: http://books.google.com/books?id=m6QsJPZcWUUC&lpg=PA7&dq=pizza%20box%20tripod&pg=PA5#v=onepage&q&f=false

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10 thoughts on “What happened to the pizza dough ball?

  1. You are so right. Having four kids we do the mandatory take-out pizza (my oven sucks) once per week, fresh romaine / Caesar salad as the main course. The two pizza boxes get used in my garden (as additional weed barrier under natural tree mulch), but I’ve never seen such a plastic tripod. I, like you, would rail on such a waste of plastic.

    Pizza dough ball? It’d never make it into the oven! It would be eaten raw promptly following the fight over it at the table.

  2. Love edible solutions to any problem – especially when they involve bread dough! I had never seen this before, is the pizza dough ball seen all over Canada? It is baked separately and then placed on the pizza for shipping, or is it placed there before going into the oven?

    • I’m not sure how far dough balls have spread, though I only ever remember seeing them in Montreal. I’m not sure if they’re baked on the pizza (though I think so), but they are baked at the same time, because the arrive warm.

      As a Montrealer, I may be biased, but they sure taste better than the plastic to me.

  3. I remember seeing the pizza dough ball but I didn’t realize it was really only in Montreal. I lived in Montreal…moved there when I 19 from Vancouver. As I think back, I don’t recall seeing pizza dough balls for a long time….possibly since I was 20 (when I left Montreal–just there for a year ‘n half) and that was a couple of decades ago!

    One of your sentences is: “The expense of those tripods alone puzzles me. Its almost like we want to be wasteful.” I completely agree…..It ‘is’ like we as a culture ‘want’ to be wasteful. People seem surprised and taken aback sometimes when I point things out them (hopefully gently :-). But, like you, I would figure a business owner (pizza or other) would want to save money and gee, also (easily) stopping doing something harmful such as using a single use pizza tripod.

    Humans are very perplexing. I get that the pizza tripod maker company would want to keep selling them but can’t the buyers embrace a better idea such as the pizza dough ball?

    Hmmm……We just had pizza on Friday….it didn’t have either. I think only some places use it, if anything. I’ll be keeping my eyes open on this one. Thanks for posting and for reminding me of fun earlier times!

  4. Hi! Very cool and interesting post :)
    So is that what those weird tripods are for??
    I am half Italian and I have never seen those tripods there, only here in the UK from chain takeaways such as Domino’s. That’s terrible! The douch ball makes SO much more sense I wonder why they ever went to the trouble of thinking about a tripod thing!!
    Here in the UK dough balls are served as a starter in several restaurants, with garlic butter and parsley to dip them in!!
    Thanks for the post :)

    • How the plastic tripods evolved is a mystery to me … its a product that we could easily live without. Someone in the plastic industry is a very good marketer, I think. Wish he or she would sell our app. :)

  5. I use to work at a little pizza shop in Whitby, Ontario and that was what they used. We use to bake them at the beginning of the night and popped them on to the pizzas after we cut them. Also, when it was slow, we would grab a dough ball, rip it partly open, drop a blob of sauce in it and a little cheese, pop it into the oven for a minute. Yummy snack food!

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  7. Absolutely!!! My friend and I were just discussing this very topic this morning. We believe a “Bring back the dough ball” campaign is in order! I’m from Winnipeg, and the Pizza places there used to do it too. Jeff C.

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