Ooni, the Scottish outdoor pizza oven company, is crowd-funding another campaign on Kickstarter—and this time it’s like an EasyBake oven on steroids.
The new oven is called the Ooni Karu. It’s a wood and charcoal-fire pizza oven that heats up to 932 degrees Fahrenheit—and oh, it’s portable. Which means you can produce fully cooked, personal Neapolitan-style pizzas in 60 seconds, all from the comforts of your car trunk, if you so choose. A month out, and they’ve raised nearly $700,000 from over 2,100 donors. (On average, $322 per donor, to be precise.) The enthusiasm for the Kickstarter tells us something about the State Of Pizza in 2019: folks want their wood-fired pizzas, and we want them right. now.
The concept of a portable, wood-fired pizza oven isn’t unique to the Ooni Karu. Ooni’s other portable mini-ovens boast über-short cook times, too, as do other companies. The Gozney Roccbox oven cooks up pizzas in 90 seconds, as does the Breville oven. Some less expensive ovens boast 4-7 minute cook times. Blaze, the instant pizza chain backed by LeBron James and touted as “the Chipotle of pizza,” says its pizzas cook in just three minutes. With Ooni’s one-minute pizza promise, we’re shaving the wait time down and down and down, growing ever closer to our collective primal need for instant pizza.
But it leaves one to wonder: In shaving the wait time down, are we chipping away at a crucial element of what makes pizza so damn delicious?
Waiting is the point of pizza. Calling in your order to the delivery place (or app) when you’re already hungry for it, being told the wait’s gonna be a half-hour longer than you expected, getting a confused call from a stoned delivery guy who went to the wrong address, getting another confused call from said vaping teen. Or, if you’re making it at home, there’s the food prep, the annoyingly long preheating process, realizing you actually never hit the preheat button so it hasn’t started yet, and the way staring down the oven makes 15 minutes seem like three hours, then the absolutely excruciating time spent waiting for the pie to cool down. There are inconveniences, yes, but think about the satisfaction of that first bite after you’ve been griping about how hungry you are. Those inconveniences make the pizza taste so much better. (To be clear, perhaps the point here is more about cooking pizza at very high temperatures, and that the cooking time is a result of that. But it doesn’t negate my point about anticipation and food.)
It’s one reason why a barbecue restaurant like Franklin BBQ has been mythologized. Is it delicious? According to The Takeout’s Kevin Pang, absolutely. But the anticipation—sometimes in excess of seven hours—psychologically grows the deliciousness factor. A car bumper smoked and slathered with barbecue sauce would taste good after seven hours.
Sure, no one likes waiting for their food. Indeed, that’s how companies like Ooni have such success with crowdfunding. But the longing, the aching, the dreaming of that first bite, it’s all a part of the pizza experience. (Yeah, I know I can make a gross sex joke right now, but you know what? No.) Sure, pizza rules no matter what—it’s bread and cheese, of course it’s gonna taste good—but it’s a simple, common dish. Impatience is what turns a bite of bread and cheese and meat into a life-altering culinary event. Impatience is as necessary a pizza ingredient as dough. And if we keep chipping away at the wait time for pizza, we just might be removing an integral component to America’s favorite dinner/late-night snack/lunch/breakfast.