Presented with a two-choice offer between a lifetime's worth of free pizza from their favorite wood-fired dough spot or seeing their children again, some people would have to take a few minutes to think about it. And yet, some say that there are foods even more beloved than pizza. Do they make valid points, or are they pepperwrongy?
Such a broad category, I know. You could put a Porsche between two slices of bread and call it a sandwich. That said, pizza is a fairly broad food in its own right, so fair is fair. From the Cuban to the Reuben, the BLT to the Steak and Cheese, the roster of time-tested sandwiches will more than hold its own against the All-Star team of pizzas.
Pizza's culinary cousin, pasta, works with the same basic premise as 'za. Carbs, cheese, sauce, herbs, eat up. The same pleasure receptors that compel you to eat an entire Margherita pizza in one sitting convince you that the family-sized portion of fettuccine alfredo is you-sized. Whether it's spaghetti and meatballs, penne a la vodka, shrimp scampi, or Kraft Mac & Cheese, the rost-uh of pasta runs deep.
I never knew potatoes were so darned popular. Perhaps it's just an image issue. Rather than thinking of a pocked, lumpy, unskinned Russet, why not think of crispy golden fries, bowl-fulls of your mama's buttery mash, or picadillo? Many potato heads do think of spuds in their delicious final forms because potatoes were a multi-time nominee to challenge pizza for the Undisputed Heavyweight (pun intended) Food Title.
4. Fried Chicken
It's hard to look at the daily lines of vehicles wrapped around Chick-fil-A and Popeyes like a metallic anaconda and think, "Americans could take or leave their fried chicken. They'd be sensibly calm and collected if every Chick-fil-A simultaneously combusted without warning." In many regions South of the Mason-Dixon line, you can find abundant fried chicken, but only a few pizza joints that surpass Pizza Hut-level quality. In these areas (and plenty of others where Chick-fil-A stays popping like the grease in the fryer), a fried chicken sandwich trumps a slice of pizza at least three days out of the week.
Pizza is beloved because it's delicious when broken down to its most foundational parts and because there are endless varieties of pizza, making it a canvas that the diner can make their own. Tacos aren't so different. Like thin crust and deep dish, you can choose your taco crunchy or tortilla-y. Like you can pick your pizza toppings, you can choose what goes in your taco (beef, fish, chicken, or veggies). And you can add your uniquely freaky quirks to your tacos (hot sauce? queso fresco? jalapenos?) just as you can put pineapple or ranch dressing on your pizza.
Look, we started stretching the moment we started trying to find foods better, or at least more widely loved, than pizza. The tastiest rice won't flood your brain with serotonin or tantalize your taste buds in the way that even a mediocre deep-dish pizza will. But, if you gauge a food's popularity by the amount eaten yearly, rice deserves more than a grain of respect. On average, humans eat almost half a pound of rice per person daily, with rice farmers producing 500 million tons annually. Rice will fill you up on the cheap and plays a critical role in countless saliva-inducing dishes like sushi, curry, and shrimp fried rice. As comedian Mitch Hedberg observed, "Rice is great if you're really hungry and want to eat two thousand of something." Try eating 2,000 pizzas, why don't you?
It's no coincidence that "cheese" can be slang for "money." Cheese is money, sometimes even when it's moldy. You know a food belongs in the Hall of Fame of Beloved Edibles when mold is an ingredient, yet the food still tastes divine. Brie and Camembert would not be the same without the white mold spores in the cow's milk these cheeses evolve from. And the world of food would be downright Muenster-ous without cheese. Plus, there is no pizza without cheese.
The matchup between a juicy, liberally-spiced, wagyu beef burger and the most perfectly cooked stone-fired pepperoni pizza is Jordan vs. LeBron. It's Tupac vs. Biggie. It's the Stones vs. The Beatles, Ferrari vs. Lamborghini. Either way, you can't go wrong. While burgers have the edge of being easily made at home, pizza is pizza. There's no clear-cut winner here.
9. Ice Cream
Ice cream is hardly a one-for-one comparison to pizza. Still, the peanut gallery screamed for ice cream as one of the foods more beloved than pizza. Whether you like yours in a waffle cone with fresh fruit, in a root beer float, or in some other fashion, odds are you like ice cream. Because everyone likes ice cream. Though you can't eat it for breakfast, leaving ice cream off this list would be a head-splitting brain freeze.
There are no hyper-specific dishes on this list. As delicious as shrimp vindaloo, eggs benedict, and chicken carbonara are, they are too specific (and, frankly, unworthy) to go nose-to-nose with pizza. Ramen sticks with the theme of foundational dishes that can serve as the starting point for something greater. Those who swear by ramen would not wok back their sworn testimony that a bowl of seasoned and supplemented noodles is just as good as a box of fresh slices. Pork belly and ramen? *insert slobbering emoji*
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