Is Pepperoni an Endangered Pizza Topping?

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Seafood. Eggs. Hot dogs. Reindeer. Four words that have no business being grouped together—unless you’re picking out toppings for your next pizza purchase. When it comes to creating a pizza tailored to the specific taste of a consumer, creativity has exploded.

Seafood? Try a shrimp pizza. Eggs? Nothing like a breakfast pizza to get the day started. These days, pizza topping options sometimes number over 30 on pizzeria menu boards. Begging the question: Does pepperoni pizza still exist? Or, is this beloved pizza topping disappearing?

For as long back as I can remember, a pepperoni pizza has been my staple pizza of choice. I’d throw in supreme pizza now and again, maybe a Hawaiian style if I was feeling crazy, but pepperoni pizza—whether by the slice or by the whole, was and still is my favorite pizza. Hands down.

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A slice of pepperoni from Guido’s Original New York Style Pizza in Boise, Idaho. Thanks to the size, two slices usually suffices. Each slice has the perfect amount of grease.

A good, old-fashioned pepperoni pizza is great for any occasion. Celebrating a graduation and don’t want to cater? Order some pepperoni pizza! Looking to fuel up before or after that grueling triathlon? Grab a few slices of pepperoni! When it comes to comfort food—pepperoni pizza does the trick.

According to a 2014 Zagat survey, traditional pizza toppings like pepperoni, sausage, and mushrooms are still favorites among consumers. Still, more and more people are taking risks and experimenting with new toppings on their pizza. In Finland and Alaska, you can get a pizza topped with smoked reindeer meat.

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Reindeer pizza from Kotipizza in Finland.

In 2015, Pizza Hut took it upon itself to include pepperoni and hot dogs for a Hot Dog Stuffed Crust Pizza. I guess they figured pepperoni and hot dogs were a similar enough meat?

There are numerous pizzerias like New York’s Pizza Beach, specializing in seasonal specialty pizzas like their recent fall creation, The Sweet Goat Pizza—roasted sweet potatoes, goat cheese, cranberry sauce, pumpkin seeds, arugula and sage oil.

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The Sweet Goat from Pizza Beach

Even food websites like Serious Eats took advantage of the one thing synonymous with fall: pumpkins. Creating a recipe for pumpkin pizza that will forever change the way we look at pizza.

No doubt, chefs are dreaming up unique pizza topping ideas in restaurant kitchens—desperately searching to find ways to knock pepperoni off of its throne. But, I like to think there’s a lot more creativity going on with everyday pizza lovers. Take the poor college student. Having no scholarship or financial aid to speak of, his options for breakfast may be limited. Instead of blowing the last of his money at a fast food chain, he comes up with a simple solution. He’ll fry an egg and slap that baby on last night’s leftover slice of pizza. A breakfast pizza is born.

But, where does all this experimentation leave pepperoni? Right now, the fantastic, simple topping still holds the throne. But, every day, pepperoni is in a fight against new, intricate topping combinations. Sure, experimentation can be a good thing. Many delicious foods have been created by mistake or from someone being creative when food supplies were low and funds were dwindling. But, am I really going to run out and ask for hot dogs on my next pizza? Smoked reindeer meat? Shrimp? No.

Call me a traditionalist, but I will gladly choose a pepperoni pizza any day of the week. I will fight the good fight to keep pepperoni America’s favorite pizza topping. And, even if pepperoni one day falls, it can take solace in this: at least it’s not plain old cheese. That’s the one topping that truly stands alone.

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About Author

Jason Haskins is a playwright and novelist living in Boise, Idaho. His first novel, "The Dragon Princess", was published in the summer of 2014. Jason is also the author of three full-length plays. His one-act play "One Night Stand" was recently published for Heartland Plays. When he's not writing, Jason enjoys watching movies and following his favorite sports team, the Boston Celtics."

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