Last Call: When God steals your pizza, 7-Eleven is there in your hour of need

At left: the pizza that salvaged an unfortunate Wednesday evening
At left: the pizza that salvaged an unfortunate Wednesday evening
Photo: SOPA Images (Getty Images)
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Last night, I experienced convenience store pizza for the very first time. I had not planned on this happening, not just last night but ever, because even as a Brooklyn-born pizza snob who has learned that there is beauty to be found in all pizzas, it hadn’t occurred to me to pick one up from a place with a self-serve chili cheese machine. I never thought I’d find myself in a situation that could only be resolved by eating 7-Eleven pizza, but if I’ve learned one thing this year, it’s that anything is possible.

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My saga begins yesterday morning, which was relatively unremarkable: I sat on the couch to work while simultaneously homeschooling my barely teenage sons, which is just as much fun as you’re imagining. I promised if they did a few extra chores and made it through the day without annoying me too much, I’d buy them pizza. And it mostly worked! It wasn’t a perfect day (I don’t expect to ever have one of those), but it was good enough. They deserved pizza, and I deserved a night where I didn’t have to cook. Everyone was going to be a winner.

At 6 p.m., I ordered a pizza from a local joint that delivers through DoorDash. An hour later we got a text message saying our pizza had been delivered, and yet, I saw no pizza at my door. The boys ran around the block, hoping to find a baffled driver or our missing pizzas, but no luck—our pizzas had disappeared into the ether, and my kids began complaining as if this were my fault. We contacted DoorDash, which informed us it was sending new pizzas, and an hour later, the same thing happened. By this point the kids were losing their minds, telling me I owed them a pizza debt that needed to be repaid by the end of the night... or else. If you’ve ever been trapped in a house with two tween boys during a pandemic, you understand that I had no choice but to find them pizza. It was 8 p.m., and I was running out of time.

I ordered Domino’s and handed the laptop to the kids so they could stare at the Domino’s Pizza Tracker and confirm that I was in no way tampering with their hard-earned pizza night. A few minutes later, my phone rang: it was Domino’s, calling to say it can’t deliver the pizzas. A company whose sole job is to deliver pizzas was not delivering on the night of the biggest pizza-mergency I’d had since the Meatball Incident of 2017. (We don’t talk about the Meatball Incident of 2017.)

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It was 8:30 p.m. There was no pizza. I was about to be declared delinquent on a pizza debt, and my children were hungry, furious, and descending into feral rage. It was pouring outside, and almost everything in my neighborhood was closed. Everything except 7-Eleven.

I trudged through the storm, stepping in multiple puddles along the way, and ordered two $7 pizzas while twisting in the agony that comes from wearing wet socks. Ten minutes later I had pizzas in hand, arriving home like the hero my children needed. Before taking my first bite, I reminded myself: just as I do with Domino’s, I must approach this not as the platonic ideal of pizza, but as “pizza-inspired food,” so as to temper expectations and avoid disappointment. 7-Eleven pizza must be appreciated for the pizza-adjacent product that it is.

The pizza was... not great. The crust was soft and spongy, like microwaved bread. The sauce was uncomfortably sweet, and there was far more cheese on the pie that even I, a woman who would die for cheese if it asked me to, found excessive. But though it wasn’t great, it wasn’t bad, either. It sort of reminded me of microwaved Bagel Bites, another product that no one in their right mind would classify as actual pizza, but which are still enjoyable in their own way. And, most importantly, 7-Eleven pizza was there for me and my family when we needed it the most. My debt was paid. I shall live to bribe my children once again.

Any pizza tastes good when you’ve been trying to eat one for three hours and the gods keep taunting you. It did not taste like despair; it tasted like grease, sugar, and victory. Have any of you ever suffered a serious pizza-mergency and lived to tell the tale? We’d love to hear all about it.

Allison Robicelli is The Takeout staff writer, a former professional chef, author of three books, and The People's Hot Pocket Princess. Questions about recipes/need cooking advice? Tweet @Robicellis.

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DISCUSSION

Point the first: DoorDash is horrible, its delivery accuracy and on-time percentage, if converted to batting averages, insufficient to crack the 25-man roster in Major League Baseball.

Point the second: 7-Eleven’s pizzas, considering their price point, are at least on the same level as their nearest competitor, the Little Caesars Pizza Portal. If you’re paying seven bucks for a pizza, you know what you’re in for, you set your expectations accordingly low, and it’s often a pleasant surprise given that.

Point the third: Because the pizzas are technically sold raw and heating them up is an “optional” service that 7-Eleven offers (technically), this qualifies them for EBT/SNAP benefits, and during my time living on the streets of Seattle, this made them an oft-shared item at homeless shelters, where a guy would bring a whole pizza in and let a couple of folks bunked nearby have a slice or two. Which, in turn, invites its own interesting debate about whether this sort of thing should just be made official and hot food should be made SNAP-eligible.