Photo: hanohiki (iStock)

January 2020 was one of those emotionally draining months that felt like it lasted an entire year, and in Minnesota, the weather reflected our national morale: gray, gloomy, and depressing. When the news is bad and there’s no sunshine to be found, you need to grasp whatever ray of hope you can find. For Minnesotans, the hero they so desperately needed arrived on New Year’s Day: a pizza box that got lodged in the sign of Uptown Minneapolis’ Sola Salons.

As first reported by the alt-weekly City Pages, Jill Bernard, a Minneapolis improv comic and HUGE Theater cofounder, noticed the box from Toppers Pizza on January 1. At first, the box seemed unremarkable—after all, what city isn’t covered in trash the day after its citizens get collectively wasted? When she saw it again on January 2, she noticed something a bit poetic about it: The slogan of Toppers, a Midwest chain with a location down the block from the salon, is “NEVER SETTLE,” which is plastered in big, bold letters on their pizza boxes. The box was a metaphor for life, the cheerleader Minnesotans needed as they headed into a new year. Never settle. Never surrender. You got this, Minneapolis.

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Bernard took to Instagram to spread the message of the city’s new patron saint under the hashtag #pizzaboxwatch.

Snow was in the forecast for mid-month, causing a bit of concern for the pizza box’s future. But, never settling, that plucky little cardboard bastard managed to hang on and weather the storm:

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The pizza box continued to hold on, no matter what challenge it faced, and managed to make it out of January alive. It made it all the way to Tuesday, February 4, when at last the owner of the salon learned of the pizza box after being contacted by City Pages for a quote on #pizzaboxwatch (he declined to give one) and took it down. While it seems odd that a salon owner would not notice a giant pizza box lodged into their sign, Bernard told the paper that few people use the salon’s main entrance, preferring to use the side door that faces the parking lot.

Tuesday afternoon, the story of #pizzaboxwatch got an ending: After declining to comment on the City Pages story, the Sola Salons owner took down the box and hand-delivered it to the folks at HUGE Theater, to be preserved for posterity. Here’s hoping it continues to inspire them all.

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Allison Robicelli is The Takeout staff writer, a former professional chef, the author of three books, and a swan meat influencer. Questions about recipes or need cooking advice? Tweet @Robicellis.

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