The Rich Semiotic History of the Pizza Box (Pt. 2)
An objectively correct assessment of various box designs by the Nobell team
Long after a civilization crumbles, it won't be its economic or scientific achievements that future historians will dust off and marvel at.
Instead, it is that long-gone culture's artistic output: a scrap of parchment containing a few lines from an epic, the weathered face of a sculpture, or perhaps a pristine fresco somehow spared the ravages of time.
It's that irrepressible human need to make something from nothing that reaches through centuries to inspire future generations.
If we are measuring artistic value purely by the number of eyeballs it attracts, then the pizza box surely ranks among some of the most remarkable creative canvases that humanity has ever created.
In an effort to lionize this overlooked art form, we have compiled a collection of pizza boxes, both mid and transcendent, and assigned each of them an objectively accurate assessment on a SLICE Scale out of 8 (more pizza slices = more good).
Anyway, here are some pizza boxes and what we think of them:
The Classic’s Classic
An excellent example of the established pizza-box vernacular: the red-green palette, the variety of stock fonts, and the saucy Italian chef clip art.
This is the Platonic Ideal of a pizza box, what most people picture when they hear those two words. Undeniably attractive and timeless.
A harsher critic might say it takes no risks and offers no perspective. "What does it stand for?" They might ask.
To which we would answer: It stands for Sal's Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria, and this box is near-flawless.
The Function Over Form
To be sure, pizza box science has made great strides from its humble beginnings. Pies today arrive many degrees hotter and many crisps crispier than their predecessors.
Futuristic materials, innovative configurations, and new techniques to retain heat and vent steam. These are all laudable achievements. But what do we lose when we prize progress over artistry?
The pizza arrives hot; the viewer is left cold.
The “We Hired a Design Bureau”
Clean and elegant. A typeface that comes from a foundry, sleek elements, and no extra frills. This box represents a new school of pizza box design: boldly minimalist yet still comforting, like a chaise lounge designed by Naoto Fukasawa.
Gorgeous overall, but it is missing a certain folksy je ne sais quoi that one expects from a pizzeria.
The Gimmick Box
This box, from the Canadian chain Pizza Pizza, folds into a mini basketball game. But, like most high-concept marketing endeavors, the results are mixed.
While we commend the attempt to inject some levity into the entrenched pizza box format, the focus on a trivial catapult-based mini-game detracts from the sanctity of the pizza experience.
The Literal Fine Art Box
Old and new, high and low. This box embodies a dichotomy: a classic visual style plucked from the canvas and transplanted onto an entirely new medium. A cardboard curation that comes together to celebrate the pizza boxes of both the past and future.
Like blending a freshly grated mild white cheddar with manchego and pecorino romano, we salute you for this delicious remix.
The Single Slice Clamshell
Here we have a vessel that raises some fundamental questions. What makes a "box?" Is there a minimum slice requirement? How many sides should it have? Does it need a lid?
For now, let's call this one an honorable mention. Cool graphics, though.