Pizza, politics and perspective

Three p’s – pizza, politics and perspective – separate Chicago from New York. Following the announcement that the new One World Trade Center was declared taller than "Sears, er, Willis Tower," The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart was forced to defend his rant against Chicago-style, deep-dish pan pizza.

Chicago UNO Pizza

The dispute over the WTC permanent spire lead Mayor Rahm Emanuel to complain that, “If it looks like an antenna, acts like an antenna, then guess what? It is an antenna.”

“Deep dish pizza is not only not better than New York Pizza, it’s not pizza,” Stewart had proclaimed. “It’s a (expletive) casserole.”

“This is not pizza,” Stewart said. “This is tomato soup in a bread bowl.”

Most recently, however, Stewart seems to back down a bit over the “Strife of Pie.”

“If I was ranting,” Stewart responded, “it was nothing compared to what people on Twitter were ranting back.”

Mayor Emanuel sent Stewart deep-dish pizza for lunch with “no hard feelings,” but Stewart responded that his show’s dog rejected it.

Clearly, Chicago’s sensitivity was rooted in the original jab at losing the title of tallest building in North America. The Second City title is a bit of a middle child syndrome. Jon always liked you best? Maybe the jabs fell too close to the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination or the Thanksgiving holiday, but Chicago looked a little touchy.

I grew up in the western suburbs during the tumultuous 1960’s. Pizza was usually thin, greasy and more like New York’s version. I also remember 1970’s high school excitement about the arrival of Pizza Hut.

In college at Illinois, Garcia’s Pizza in the Pan offered “GutBuster” by the slice, and it was more of a thick version of New York pizza.

Truthfully, I do not remember eating authentic Chicago-style pizza until a graduate school journalism trip to meet Mike Royko at the Sun-Times, Mayor Jane Byrne at City Hall and dinner at Pizzeria Due.

Chicago-style pizza is different, delicious and filling. It’s nothing worth fighting over – even for a good laugh.

Marc Malnati, fourth generation at Lou Malnati’s, used creative video and pizza delivery to eventually make it on the show.

The gag continued until Stewart finally said deep-dish is “very, very tasty” and called a truce with a handshake.

The perspective of four decades should show us that the political divide is more about rivalry than real differences. Chicago, which now has its own Trump Tower, has given in a bit in the name of economic development.

Besides, Chicagoans, pizza in Chicago and New York are both much better than the dry slice I forced down in Boston.

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