by Tanner Kinney

Consider the following: you’re out and about, enjoying yourself and having a great time. Perhaps you’re walking through the park or an aquarium or, I dunno, New Jersey. Suddenly, you notice a fellow civilian collapse on the ground, crying out in pain. You run over to them to record the event for your Snapchat story, as does a crowd of people. You realize that, by the loud growling noises, that he’s simply hungry. You smile, because you came prepared. “Do not be alarmed,” you cry out to the people holding their phone cameras up, “I have a solution.” You press the button on your Pizza Hut Pie-Tops, and after some quick taps on you iPhone X, you order your favorite type of pizza for this person. The crowd cheers as the Pizza Hut driver arrives, and you open the pizza box for the hungry man on the ground. At first, he’s overjoyed, but he looks in the box tosses it to the side in disgust. His final words: “Pineapple does not belong on pizza.”

Now, that’s obviously a fantasy. Most people don’t have the money to afford an iPhone X. But everything else is now entirely possible, thanks to Pizza Hut’s new technological advancement in pizza ordering technology: the Pie-Tops. With these shoes, you can now order pizza with just your shoes and your phone, rather than using only your phone. It seems like one of those advancements that doesn’t add anything, but tries to simplify things. As much as I love technology and technological advancements, I want to know why we are spending time and resources implementing Amazon Dash buttons (which already seem unnecessary) into shoes. But here they are. At the very least, they seem to work, which is better than you can say for some of the dumber ideas.

Image result for pizza hut pie tops

Image from CNET

It isn’t just Pie-Tops though. Pizza Hut may have implemented that for their chain, but many of the major pizza chains have tried their hand at pizza technology. Some of them are pretty cool, some of them are kind of strange, and some of them are downright embarrassing. Let’s take a look at them, shall we?

Dominos: From vocal-Noids to vocaloids, and specialty pizza cars

Domino’s, at least to me, hasn’t been a part of my life. Maybe it’s just because I didn’t grow up with a Domino’s near me, but I always considered them a solid fourth place in the realm of pizza chains. Fourth place isn’t bad though. That hasn’t stopped Domino’s from trying to take their place at the top, even if it’s by forcing technology into their product. Domino’s, of course, has their online ordering and mobile apps like every pizza chain and their dog has. They took it a step further by reinventing how the pizza is delivered: with special delivery cars.

These Domino DXP cars have been handcrafted to provide the ultimate pizza delivery experience. Never again will some jack-wagon in a Prius deliver you cold pizzas 20 minutes late. Now the pizzas will stay in an oven-esque unit until they arrive at your door. The car is also aerodynamic, and drinks only get rattled while driving. The only seat included is one for the driver, while every other seat was used for sauces, drinks, and other pizza things. Wow! Incredible! They also look incredibly tiny and dumb. They look like if you tried to make a life-sized Hot Wheels car, but didn’t make it actually human sized. Maybe manlet sized, so I guess they’re designed for George Lucas. I haven’t gotten a pizza delivered to me by a Domino’s pizza car yet, but I’m sure they work as well as any other car. Even then Dominos forced someone to return the car that he rebuilt himself. If that seems strange, don’t worry, it only gets stranger.

Before the pizza car, we have one of the most ingenious cross-overs to never make it to the United States. In Japan, Domino’s teamed up with one of the most iconic parts of their music industry to create the partnership to last a lifetime. This is Domino’s app, featuring Hatsune Miku. And the video advertising it is… just art.

Hat-su-nee-mee-ku, as Domino’s Pizza Japan President Scott Oellkers says, was partnered with Domino’s as part of some kind of promotion. Fans could order a Domino’s pizza and, using the Domino’s app, could now… well… “have some fun with Miku!” They could take pictures, enjoy pizza with Miku, and even get a live performance on the top of their pizza box. To this day, I’m still not sure if this was successful, and I haven’t been able to find evidence it was even real. All we have is this advertisement, with all of its awkward zooms onto Scott Oellkers embarrassed looking face. That, or it’s the face of pure fan joy as he finally gets his dream: Hatsune Miku and pizza together at last. Part of me also wishes I could’ve tried it. Then again, I also have some self-respect; I wouldn’t order pizza from Domino’s.

Papa John is the Jeff Bezos of pizza

 Papa John hasn’t done anything as embarrassing as Scott Oellkers did, unless you count his appearance as a Ghostbuster, but he and his company have decided that tech is the future of their company. In fact, they don’t even consider themselves a “brick-and-mortar” pizza store. They consider themselves a “tech company,” according to an article by Business Insider. They see themselves closer to Amazon than a restaurant, and since most of their sales have been digital, maybe they’re right. They also have a Papa John’s Apple TV app which, while not as dumb as the Pie-Tops, still seems pretty dumb. Ordering pizza through the TV? That just seems mental to me, but I’m also the guy who still drives to pick up his pizzas from Pizza Hut personally.

Is Papa John’s really a tech company though? I think it’s funny they call themselves the pizza store equivalent of Amazon, especially when Domino’s and Pizza Hut have been making more ambitious steps forward, no matter how silly those steps are. Papa John’s also tastes like cardboard with sauce on it, but that’s a story for another day. I still eat that garbage anyways, it’s hard to make a bad pizza. Just ask our next pizza-tech empire.

Go through the magical Pizza Portal with Little Caesar himself

 Little Caesars is convenient. You walk in, say a couple words to a person at the counter, and walk out with hot-and-ready garbage. It’s delicious garbage, with only a small chance of food poisoning. However, aren’t there times you wish you could avoid those couple of words with the worker at the counter? Of course! There’s immense shame in ordering three bags of Crazy Bread, then devouring them while squatted outside the restaurant, hissing at passerby’s. The workers are clearly judging me! I don’t want that judgment. Thankfully, Little Caesars agrees with me.

Image from MLive

Step into the Pizza Portal: essentially an automatic pizza generator. You get the app, put in your order, then scan the QR code into the machine. Suddenly, pizza happens! It’s like magic, except not the cool kind of Harry Potter magic but the disappointing kind of magic Uncle Gary does at your sixth birthday party. Not that I’d know, of course, I never celebrated birthdays. It’s not much different than the machine ordering systems that places like McDonalds and Wendy’s are adopting, except it’s called a “Pizza Portal,” which is just incredible. That makes it sound like some kind of sci-fi pizza system. I’d love to see what lies beyond the pizza portal, but I have a feeling I know what it is: molding ingredients and crying employees. Maybe we can cry together.

Personally, I think pizza companies need to take bigger risks with their tech-pizza integration. I want the toppings on a pizza to be a secret QR code to lead to special coupons or augmented reality games. I want to be able to use a VR headset to challenge Papa John himself to a game of Battle Chess for a free pizza. I want to be able to project MYSELF as a vocaloid on my pizza box, not just Hatsune Miku. I want pizza delivery HELICOPTERS to bring to pizza to me anywhere, even though I live in the middle of nowhere. I want to go through a pizza portal into a REAL pizza dimension! But that’s just me. Technology can only do so much. I don’t think there will ever be any technological advancements that can do insane things, like make pineapple belong on pizza. It never will. Don’t @ me.


Sources: YouTube, USA Today, Amazon, Detroit Free Press, Business Insider, MLive, New York Times

Images: CNET, MLive

Tanner is a Film and Media Studies major and a Digital Media minor. His Neo Yokio review won a second-place CSPA Golden Circle award for the 2017 semester. He enjoys playing JRPG’s of any variety, regardless of how obscure and strange it is. Tanner is also the host of Byte at the Movies, the premiere movie discussion live-stream.

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