Do you think Dessert Pizza is Pizza? Don’t!

Posted: September 5, 2011 in Miscellaneous
Tags: , ,
I was searching through my computer harddrive today and I came across this gem that I wrote back in second year.  It’s short, but sweet.

Dessert is defined as either “cake, pie, fruit, pudding, ice cream, etc., served as the final course of a meal” or “a serving of fresh fruit after the main course of a meal.” Pizza, on the other hand, is defined as “a flat, open-faced baked pie of Italian origin, consisting of a thin layer of bread dough topped with spiced tomato sauce and cheese.” In this paper I will argue that the two are mutually exclusive: that is to say that what has been commonly referred to as dessert pizza is not actually pizza.

We should start by unpacking our definitions. Taking pizza, we can say that for something to be pizza, it must a) be flat, b) be baked, c) have a bread-based crust, d) have tomato sauce, and e) have cheese. A dessert must be served as the final course of the meal. We could also add on to our conditions for pizza that it be served as part of the main course, as that seems the most logical order in which to eat a pizza. However, that condition is not essential to the argument at hand.

A dessert pizza, the catalyst for this discussion, does not meet the criteria that we have laid out for a thing to be pizza. Sure, it is flat, baked, and usually has a bread-based crust, but it lacks the cheese and tomato sauce required to be actual pizza. One particular dessert pizza recipe calls for cookie dough, whipped cream, bananas, strawberries, pineapples, and grapes. The only thing in those ingredients that we would find on an actual pizza is pineapple. If we were to call a dessert pizza actual pizza, ignoring the need to satisfy all of the conditions, we would then be forced to call anything that is flat and on bread pizza as well. Therefore, we could call toast with peanut butter pizza by the same logic. However, we know that toast with peanut butter is not pizza and to say so is absurd, just like it is absurd to call dessert pizza actual pizza when it does not fulfill all the criteria required for it to be pizza.

Of contention in this matter is that both pizza and dessert are defined as being some sort of pie and that in and of itself is fine. Pie, in this case, refers to the general shape and method of preparing the dishes in question: it is flat, baked, and usually round. It makes no claims as to content, but the rest of our definitions do. Our definition of pizza states that it must contain tomato sauce and cheese. Our first definition of dessert implies some sort of sweet content while our second definition specifies that it contain fresh fruit. The definition of dessert is less rigid, but still does not entitle us to conclude that pizza and dessert are consistent.

While dessert pizza is undoubtedly a great idea, it is simply not possible for something to be both pizza and dessert. This argument has been undertaken, personal tastes aside, in the interest of properly defining our foods to ensure that when one orders from a foreign menu, one knows just exactly what they are ordering. No one wants to order a dessert pizza and, expecting a delightful take on a time-tested classic combination of bread, cheese, and tomato sauce, be treated to an assault of frightening fruit placed on a bed of whipped cream. It just isn’t right.


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