THE EAT BEAT: Yes, the country IS going to pizzas.
There are 30,000 places in the nation now where Italy's answer to the hamburger is served.; 71 in the Akron area.
was Mario Caponi. He is confident he and his father, Rocco, opened in 1953 the first carryout pizza shop here.
|"Pizzas are more popular than hamburgers with "People 21 to 35"; so says the possibly biased North American Pizza Association (NAPA).
The Association is holding a sizzling seminar in Chicago this week (an earlier one. was held in Cleveland)about -- for one thing -- uptight pizza dough.
Among the pizzaful people who talked and listened in Cleveland
His father is retired but Mario operates Rocco's at 1053 Portage Trail in Cuyahoga Falls.
Their original place was located in the elder Caponi's shoe repair shop, 479 W. Thornton at. This circumstance allowed hecklers to make cracks about the "leather-like' quality of the product.
Mario was soon laughing all the way to the architect's office; the Caponis needed a bigger place.
AT THE SEMINARS there was conversation, as always, about the Paul Bunyan of pizza makers, Ned Hewitt of Milwaukee.
"He put out the largest circular pizza in
the history of mankind - 11 feet in circumference.
The environment is not good for another Hewitt. Our bakers by seemingly unwritten agreement limit the diameter to 12 inches although, in other ways, they are individualists - like hair stylists.
Often a pizza from one place appears to be only a distant cousin to the product of another.
Of the 71 shops mentioned, only one in the area is a franchised operation. "There are too many good shops here," explains Mario. "The chains just don't come into this part of the, country."
THE TOPIC of dough relaxers was introduced at the seminar by Thomas Ciccarelli, the NAPA executive director.
'You can work with pizzas faster if the dough is relaxed."
Up to now pizza flippers in these parts have permitted the dough to rest 20 minutes or so before gripping it in combat.
But there are new ingredients which do for pizza dough what tranquilizers do for people; it can be dragged off to the oven quickly without a struggle.
THE PIZZA INDUSTRY here and elsewhere does not date, back to a time when a Luigi or an 'Angelo opened a shop next door to the Leaning Tower.
In olden times in Italy, says Mario (a native of that place), scraps of dough left over from bread making were flattened, spread with goodies and shoved into a bake Oven.
The end result was called "pizza," everywhere, even if the thick Sicilian variety had little resemblance to the thin Neapolitan product.
"Akron" pizza is a compromise. It's either half as thick as that baked in Sicily or twice as thick as the Naples brands however you want to say it.
AT THE SEMINAR for our people, It was decided not to be cheesy about promoting pizzas. There is to be an advertising campaign with slogans like:
MARIO AND OTHERS maintain that pizza really is the food of the young and nearly young.
- "Ban the Bun."
- "Help Stamp Out Hamburger."
- "Man Does Not Live by Bread Alone."
- "Power to the Pizza."
It is not uncommon for a carryout to deliver, say, 50 pizzas to the girls In a Goodyear department.
The-business expects to grow with its-customers, so to speak; and that is not a reference to a possible Increase in the size and strength of girdles.
In fact, the only thing that brings unhappiness to our pizza people Is the habit some customers have of asking for a "pizza pie."'
Pie is something invented by either Mom or Johnny Appleseed - or maybe ice cream makers. But not the Italianos. No!