Pizza in Cans

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Aug 15th, 2006
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Pizza in Cans. No, I’m not talking about the dream that the frustrated and misunderstood genius Chef Boyardee took with him to his grave.

But maybe that is what I should be talking about. Because not enough people know the story of Chef Boyardee, a dreamer, a genious with a brain so large that he became a chef after a visit to a chapeau shop, only to find that there were no hats big enough to fit his grossly enlarged cranium.

Chef Boyardee was a contemporary of Albert Einstein, and a fellow Physics professor at Princeton in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s. While Einstein grappled with abstract theoretical concepts that were the “in thing” in the Physics social circle at the time, Boyardee’s feet were firmly planted on terra firma, and Boyardee studied how advanced particle theories could be applied to the culinary arts. Yeah, Einstein got all of the girls … and Boyardee grew fat as their was no one around to help him taste test the results of his mind blowing culinary experiments.

Some say that Eddie Murphy’s portrayal of Professor Sherman Klump in the Nutty Professor is in fact a post-mortem mockery of Boyardee and his work. Einstein was portrayed in a far more sensitive manner by Walter Matthau in 1994’s I.Q. And this has renewed the bitter rivalry between the Einstein and Boyardee families. (As you may recall, the families had previously made peace with each other in 1977, when game show host Richard Dawson invited the two families to compete against each other in a special prime time edition of Family Feud. In that episode we learned that intelligence is not hereditary, as the families competed to a 0-0 tie.)

But back to Chef Boyardee and his dream. No, his dreams. With the 1940’s came World War II, the big one, the war to end all wars. But today’s text books oversimplify that war, and fail to recognize some of the major geopolitical trends and events that made this war truly global in proportion.

Yes, we all know about the Nazis. Yes, we all know about the Holocaust. And I’m not going to argue that it was not Hitler that led the Germans down an inevitable path toward war, and that he had to be stopped. And yes, this is a completely satirical story that I’ve spent a half hour on, not my whole life, so if you’re easily offended, get over it.

Anyway, Germany, even in Hitler’s day, was not the most fierce combatant on the battlefield. Today we have learned that the easiest way to keep the Germans in line is to send over washed up American pop stars and pop culture icons, and the Germans will be mesmerized. We didn’t know that then, as David Hasslehoff (a.k.a., “The Hoff”) would not be born until 1952. But still, even in the 1940’s, we’re not talking about that tough of an army.

But when Italy and Japan joined sides with Germany in World War II, that was what made WWII truly a global war, with nothing less than the future of human civilization at stake.

For Hitler, it was all about ethnic purity. But for the Italians and Japanese, it was about culinary purity.

Chef Boyardee had succeeded beyond his wildest dreams with his doctoral thesis, “On the Electrodynamics of Pasta”. In his thesis, he theorized how the existence of pasta implied the existence of an equal amount of antipasta. Albert Schweitzer perverted these theories and used them as the basis for developing the atomic bomb. But Boyardee saw a more peaceful application of his theories, and he channeled these electrodynamic forces to create round pieces of spaghetti that could be preserved in cans. He called them Spaghetti-O’s.

The Italians were understandably concerned about such a perversion of their national dish. Unbenownst to the Italian populace, Mussolini had struggled for years to create a similar food empire. He would boil pot after pot of spaghetti, hour after hour, day after day, and tie the ends of the spaghetti noodles in knots, trying to create a round spaghetti noodle. But instead of using knots, Boyardee had discovered the secret powers of antipasta, and how it could be used to accomplish unnatural feats with regular pasta.

Furious and jealous, Mussolini joined forces with the Germans.

Boyardee went to the front lines, bringing with him his cans of Spaghetti-O’s, which nourished and fed the Allied troops, and gave them the strength to prevail in this most unholy war.

(Oddly enough, the Japanese were also brought into war over noodles … Ramen noodles … on sale this week at Safeway for 9 cents a package … but that is another story for another time.)

Sadly, Chef Boyardee died in World War II. And with him, he took his greatest dream to his grave … Pizza in a can. In between battles, Boyardee would run experiment after experiment in his make shift mess tent. Hours before his death, he successfully accomplished his life long dream, but his secret forumlas were destroyed in the bomb blast that took his life.

Some say he was a simple man, with a simple dream … but 60 years later, no one has yet cracked the physics required to produce Pizza in a can.

While Einstein’s theories proved to be … well, they’re just theories, aren’t they? They didn’t really do anything.

Now what was I talking about?

Ah yes … Pizza in Cans.

Oops. That is the Americanized spelling based upon our mispronunciation of the city name … sorry about that. It should read Pizza in Cannes. (The “s” is silent you stupide americain!)

The story of Pizza in Cannes is inspiring, but probably less so than the story of Chef Boyardee.

This story is about two soldiers, attempting to drink the town of Cannes dry of all quality Belgian beer during the 3GSM congress in 2005.

After a noteworthy 9 hour session in 2004 at Le Claridge … our team returned in 2005 for a multi-night mission. The first day’s session began around lunch time, and reportedly involved consumption of 12 or more Westmalle Tripels each.

Considering that to be a fine first day’s effort, our soldiers decided to return to camp to prepare for the next day’s battle.

The only problem was that they couldn’t remember exactly where the camp was. After passing a pizza restaurant for the 4th time, they realized that there were either a lot of pizza joints in Cannes, or they were marching around in circles.

Alas, all of the marching had made them hungry, so they ordered a pizza for take away, and set off to find their camp.

The soldiers found their camp, and while devouring the pizza, rang up hundreds of pounds (and dollars) of charges on their mobile phone bills, calling drinking mates who were not able to attend this particular outing.

And they dutifully returned to Le Claridge every night during 3GSM … where the happy bar manager welcomed them, and kept ordering reinforcements the rest of the week, after running out of Westmalle Tripel that second night.

A sign at Le Claridge proclaimed it “Cave aux Bières”, and to this day, it is my favorite cave, and the only place that I will go spelunking in Cannes.