Saturday, December 27, 2008

No Ordinary Cardboard Box

If you've ordered a pizza to go recently, chances are it was presented to you in a simple cardboard box. That is, of course, unless you ordered your pizza from Domino's.

What Domino's gives you may look like a simple cardboard box, but it isn't. And to prove it, let me quote some of the informational messages printed on the Domino's box I got the other day.

The first one must be pretty important, because it's displayed in three places. It reads, "Caution: Steam Exhaust Port." To the untrained eye, it merely looks like a small slit in the back of the box, but without it, the steam from the pizza would presumably build up to unsafe levels, possibly scalding you when you lifted the lid.

The steam exhaust port sounds like a good idea, but I don't really think it's absolutely necessary, particularly because of the advanced technology on each of the side flaps. The message reads, "Thermo-Exhaust Technology - This box has been engineered with thermal exhaust ports for optimal crust consistency."

But the features of the Domino's pizza box don't start and end with exhaust systems. Another message, displayed on each of the side flaps and titled "Corru-Skeletal Technology," states that "This box has been engineered to protect the pizza inside against crushing forces." I'm not sure what sort of crushing forces they're talking about -- usually the only thing you put on top of a pizza box is another pizza box -- but still, I'm glad my pizza was protected against such forces.

However, that message may contradict a warning that appears elsewhere on the box, which consists solely of a picture of a broken glass above the simple message, "Caution: Fragile." To be honest, I'm not sure if they mean that the box is fragile or the pizza is fragile -- but neither one looked like it would shatter to pieces if it fell to the floor.

The warning right beside it is a lot less ambiguous. Underneath a picture of fire, the words "Caution: Hot" are displayed. I'm assuming that this message refers to the pizza and not the box, although I've never had a pizza that was as hot as fire, especially if that pizza came in a box equipped with a steam exhaust port and other examples of thermo-exhaust technology.

On the front tab, there's an instructional message to the pizza consumer. It states, "For heat retaining corrugated cardboard technology to function, close tab." So not only does the cardboard (or maybe I should call it the "corru-skeletal technology") protect the pizza against crushing forces, it also keeps the pizza hot. This is apparently so important a message that Domino's saw fit to reiterate it in a more direct -- if somewhat awkward -- manner: "Close tab between slices to keep pizza hot."

These messages are all pretty ridiculous, of course, but if Domino's realizes it, I don't think they really care, because they know that most people won't ever read the box -- they'll just open it up and grab a slice of pizza. But for better or worse, I have a tendency to read things. If I see words printed somewhere, I'll usually read them. I even decided to read the bottom of the Domino's box, although I'm not sure what exactly compelled me to do that.

But Domino's was one step ahead of me, because on the bottom of the box was the following message: "Why are you reading this? We sure hope the pizza isn't in the box while you're flipping it over."