At long last, Stranger Things is back. While I personally have completely forgotten what those crazy kids were up to when the show last aired, there’s a palpable fandom that’s taken over TikTok videos and my mom’s texts alike. There’s just something about the nostalgia of one of Netflix’s biggest hits that makes people want to get involved. In some cases, Stranger Things’ nostalgia is used for good, like introducing a new generation to the magic of Kate Bush. And in some cases, it can be used for a blatant data grab, as is the case with the Domino’s Mind Ordering App.
Yes, Domino’s does already have a delivery app, called Domino’s Pizza USA, one that prominently features the beloved pizza tracker that was truly ahead of its time when it launched in 2008. On that app, you can save your favorite pizza toppings, earn rewards, do a lot of the things that most fast food apps do.
The Mind Ordering App (available to use through May 2023) is decked out in the style of Stranger Things, the logo itself resembling the show’s neon red title card and the design within the app replicating a 1980s computer. As an app user, you’re taken into the dredges of the Hawkins National Laboratory, where you’re meant to be one of the test subjects. The app primarily acts as a sort of video game, showing you how to use your face movements through your phone’s camera to perform “telekinetic” acts, like picking up and throwing a Magic 8 Ball or, fulfilling the app’s supposed main purpose: staring at a levitating Domino’s pizza box (styled with the chain’s 1980s look and logo, of course) until your pizza order goes through, using only “your mind.”
Even if you don’t want to actually place a pizza order, you can go into “try for fun” mode, which offers a 360-degree look into the lab. Just turn your phone 360 with your face in full view, virtual-reality-style, and use head movements to pick up and put down various objects, proving your “telekinetic” fortitude.
The short answer is “yes.” But not in any sort of supernatural way, and certainly not before making you jump through way too many hoops.
“Subjects who were able to successfully Mind Order a real pizza shared three commonalities,” the app’s download page reads. “We suggest you do the same.” Those three things are:
- A Pizza Profile, which you need to set up either through the Domino’s website or another app
- A saved Easy Pizza Order in that Pizza Profile (essentially an entire go-to Domino’s order)
- The Domino’s Mind Ordering App
In order to get to the pizza-ordering part of the Mind Ordering App, you must first log in with your Pizza Profile, then allow access to your camera within the app. The app isn’t even subtle about what it can gain from that access, saying it’s scanning for facial recognition under the guise of the Hawkins National Lab testing your telekinetic abilities for the in-app “game.”
By the time you get to the pizza ordering, Domino’s has all your information twice, and enough video of your face to CGI you into the next season of Stranger Things.
And about that pizza ordering—there’s nothing telekinetic about it (duh). Remember that Easy Pizza Order you made earlier? If you select “Place a Real Order” instead of “Try for Fun,” that’s what you’re getting. You just had to do 10 more things and stare at a fake pizza box first. Sure, you might get a Limited Edition ’80s Retro Pizza Box (which isn’t that retro because it comes complete with a Stranger Things logo and QR code), but other than that, all you really did was give Domino’s access to your camera and waste a bunch of time.
Always be cautious of fast food companies that create entirely new novelty apps. All they’re really trying to do is get even more of your data in a creative way; in the case of the Mind Ordering App, that means making you go through a long process on two separate apps to place a pizza order that would take two minutes over a phone call.
These fast food/pop culture cross-promotions are inevitable, but there’s a better way to do them. In fact, Domino’s probably could have hit it out of the park with this collab if they had just focused on the ’80s-style pizza boxes or other deals surrounding the nostalgia of Stranger Things. But as it stands, this new app isn’t it, and if you really want to revel in the 1980s of it all, just put “Running Up That Hill” on repeat and call it a day.