Why we all love Detroit-style pizza now

detroit style pizza being sauced
Photo: The Washington Post / Contributor (Getty Images)

Years before the pandemic, Detroit-style pizza was on the up and up. The pizzeria I worked at (and where I still moonlight), Paulie Gee’s Logan Square, used to serve it as a special on quiet nights, until we realized: People wanted them all the time. So we made them an everyday thing, and they exploded in popularity. This wasn’t just at Paulie Gee’s: it’s been a nationwide trend while we’ve been sheltering ourselves responsibly. HuffPost examines just why Detroit-style pizza’s been so popular during the pandemic.

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Detroit-style pizza is unique in multiple ways: It’s baked in a rectangular steel tray; it has a fluffy, nearly focaccia-like crust; its edges are lined with cheese that caramelizes during the baking process; it’s sauced on top; and the cheese used is typically brick cheese, which is buttery when melted. If you feel like you’ve been hearing quite a bit about Detroit-style pizza lately, it’s because Pizza Hut’s recent foray into it has stirred up quite a bunch of controversy.

But why’s it been such a hot seller? For one thing, from my personal experience, it travels and reheats very well. Because the cheese is baked directly on top of the dough with the sauce on top of the cheese, the crust doesn’t get very soggy in transit. HuffPost talked to food consulting firm, Technomic, which had an interesting insight.

“Because the crust is such an important part of this pizza style, this makes me think this is why this has become so popular,” said Technomic senior research manager Lizzy Freier, who tracks menu trends. Menu mentions of “Detroit” in the pizza category are up 63% in the past five years, she said.

Technomic says that 40% of consumers consider the crust the most important component of pizza. If you’re a bread person, then Detroit-style’s inherent fluffiness and sheer height is definitely for you. HuffPost also suggests that Detroit-style pies are easily Instagrammable (and I have to agree).

I don’t think this is a fad, either. You’ve got the Deep! Deep! Dish at Little Caesar’s (based in Detroit, naturally), and national chain Jet’s Pizza, whose turbo crust I cannot resist, along with the Detroit-style pop-up and boutique restaurants and food trucks that continue to open. I think that Detroit-style pizza is continuing to come up, and it’s definitely here to stay. Go get a square.

DISCUSSION

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pizzapartymadness

It wasn’t meant to be Detroit style pizza, but does anyone remember Pizza Hut’s Bigfoot pizza from the 90s?