I’m in the car for about 3 hours a day, given that I work 50 miles from home. While the commute is maddening at times, it’s also somewhat welcome time to myself. Sometimes I listen to music, sometimes I listen to talk radio, but sometimes I don’t do anything. Not doing anything (except for driving, but often that entails nothing more than keeping my foot on the brake and waiting for the cars in front to inch up) is something not many people do, I think.
It gives me time to ponder life’s important questions. For example, today I somehow started thinking about those little plastic “tables” that used to come in pizza boxes to keep the cheese from sticking to the lid. I remember they were ubiquitous on pizza when I was a kid. Nowadays, I can’t remember the last time I saw a pizza with one. I’m intrigued about the reasoning.
One theory is that it’s simply cost-cutting. The one-cent plastic pieces add up to a couple dollars a day for a pizza place, which finds itself saving $1,000 by serving lots of pizza with cheese stuck to the lid. This seems improbable to me, though, largely because it seems like lots of cheese stuck to lids would do a lot of harm to a pizza place. The other thing against this strategy is that I don’t recall ever opening a pizza box and finding the cheese stuck to the lid.
Another theory is that pizza deliverymen have just become more careful, and instructed to not crush boxes en route. This, too, seems improbable, though. It seems unlikely that there could have been industry-wide improvements in pizza delivery methods. (And with respect to those who delivered pizzas in the past, I don’t think many people get into pizza delivery as a promising career, nor do I think many people have any great appreciation for being the best deliveryman out there.)
So the most probable theory I can come up with is that boxes have improved. In the eighties and early nineties, perhaps pizza boxes were low-quality, and would easily crush if another pizza was stocked on top of them. Along with e-commerce, ubiquitous cell phone coverage with data capabilities, and AJAX came improvements in pizza box manufacturing. Corrugated cardboard, for example, probably better resists crushing, causing fewer pizzas with cheese stuck to the lid. This is supported by the fact that I can’t recall the last time I had this happen to me. However, this theory, too, has a few problems. First, I don’t think cardboard is a rapidly-developing industry. I’m pretty sure that 1970s pizza boxes were about as sophisticated as 2009 pizza boxes. Second, I sometimes get pizzas in poorly-made, almost paper-y boxes. They, too, seem to not have problems with crushing.
In conclusion, I can find no reason for the demise of the pizza box table, but I can conclude that I really need a hobby. Right after I get to the bottom of this pizza box scandal.