Try it. Who knows, you may even like it.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

We know about gas, but what about pizza?

By Dick Hirsch

I am trying to drive less, but it isn’t easy, is it? You’ve probably tried it yourself and discovered that bad habits are hard to break and shortcuts from here to there are difficult to find.

But I am not here today to issue a further warning about the steadily rising price of gasoline. That is old news. People haven’t yet grown accustomed to the prices, but I keep hearing my fellow drivers predicting that prices will continue escalating and suggesting that we should all become accustomed to seeing those astonishing numbers on the gas pumps.

But while driving is certainly a vital aspect of the American personality, there is another trait that many consumers rank as even more important than filling the tank and motoring. What could that be, you ask? That would be filling the stomach with pizza.

Eating is essential and there may be those few remaining traditionalists who would scold me for focusing on pizza, rather than developing some more general commentary on the rising food prices. Certainly milk, eggs, bread, vegetables and the whole list of groceries have seen prices rising. But I choose to make a statement on pizza because, besides being tasty and satisfying, it is a fun food, a sociable food, a nourishing food, a food that has appeal to different age and income groups.

Perhaps most importantly, it is a dish that is rarely produced in the home kitchen. It comes from a pizza parlor, and pizza parlors have been a major industry in our community for years. As the population has dwindled, the number of pizza parlors has grown exponentially. Pizza has always been a comfortable dish, inexpensive to serve to a family. One large pie goes a long way.

I have always enjoyed the act of ordering and buying a pizza. I love inhaling the pizza parlor fragrance while waiting for my pie to be ready. Much as I would have enjoyed personally visiting a number of pizza purveyors, my schedule won’t permit that kind of investigation. Instead, I contacted a number of bakers and added some anecdotal evidence gathered from other pizza consumers.

“It’s the price of flour that is killing us,” was the general response. While prices of other other ingredients are also rising, the jump in flour prices is being blamed for increases in the price of pizza ranging up to 30 percent.

One of the most painful experiences was reported by a very reliable source who was rejected in his negotiations involving the purchase at a pizza parlor in his neighborhood. He presented a coupon which entitled the bearer to a reduced price for a large pie with cheese and either pepperoni or mushrooms. The proprietor said the coupon was invalid and unacceptable because of the price increases and proceeded to give a passionate explanation of the uncertainties of the pizza business. A discussion ensued and the customer, with a family at home awaiting his arrival with dinner, eventually relented.

The very same man reported the experience of a colleague who showed up at another pasta and pizza restaurant, proffering an extremely unusual and valuable coupon, the rare kind with no expiration date. It offered an order of chicken wings with the purchase of a certain large pizza at a given price. He, too, was rebuffed, because the pizza price quoted on the coupon was woefully out of date.

Whether it is for pizza or another item, in this difficult economy, one of the most sought after coupons is known as the BOGO. A BOGO would never work these days in a pizza parlor. BOGO is short for “Buy One Get One,” and it means what it says. If you buy a product that sells for $10 during a BOGO promotion, you get two for the price of one, which brings the price to $5 for each. That is an offer that was seldom, if ever, made years ago, but it has become a useful merchandising strategy, adding volume and introducing products to new customers.

While I adore the BOGO concept, the sad fact is that I rarely can find anything I really need or even want that is being presented with BOGO pricing. BOGO is very alluring. It can sometimes be tempting to participate in the action and utilize BOGO even if you don’t really want what they are selling. After all, a bargain is a bargain. Or is it?


At 2:11 PM, Blogger MLBajorek said...

Oddly, pizza is hardly ever prepared in the home as you note. Why, I don't know. The kids think it's great fun, the toppings are always right, and you can't beat the delivery charge...


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