Gas, Pizza… and Maybe More Gas

There’s nothing wrong with eating gas station pizza other than it proves your human.

Who has the best gas station pizza in Central New York?

And who has the worst?

We’re counting on you help us determine both.

Let me correct that.  There’s no “we” here. My fascination with gas station pizza is personal, not institutional. By publishing this article, neither the Syracuse New Times nor its sister publications shall be deemed liable for any injuries or deaths resulting from the consumption of gas station pizza.

Here’s what I need: If you have consumed surprisingly good gas station pizza or a notably awful version, shoot me an email, a Tweet or a Facebook message and tell me where it was and what makes it stand out. Do it by Aug. 1.

A few guidelines:

  • The establishment must sell fuel and ready-to-eat pizza. Nominations from convenience stores that lack at least one working, on-site gasoline pump will NOT be accepted. Sorry, but I have better things to do (although nothing comes to mind immediately) than spend the rest of my summer arguing about what is or isn’t a convenience store.
  • No Thruway rest stops or wholesale clubs.
  • No microwave pizza. Even my G-I tract has limits.

Once the nominations are in hand they will be tallied to determine the five biggest vote getters in each category — best pizza and worst pizza. Pizzas at those 10 locations will then be sampled and voted on by an elite 5-member culinary tribunal, appointed by me, and the “winners” will be declared. The five members of the tribunal — four of whom who have yet to be informed that they are on the tribunal — are:

Carmelo seems to be ready for the task at hand.

Carmelo seems to be ready for the task at hand.

  • Nina Davuluri, Miss America
  • Cynthia Morrow, Onondaga County’s former Health Commissioner.
  • Timothy Ford, Chief of Cardiology, Upstate Medical University
  • Carmelo Anthony, tall
  • Me

It’s an accomplished panel. I speak for everyone on it when I say we can’t wait to stuff our pie holes with most extreme gas station pizza in Central New York, from the delectable to the diarrheal.

My only real concern is that we won’t get enough nominations because too many readers will be loath to admit they’ve eaten gas station pizza. Don’t be that way. We’ve all done it at least once, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of — much. You’re in a hurry. You and your vehicle are running on empty. It’s 40 miles to the next Cracker Barrel. You’re ringing out, and you tell yourself, “Actually, it doesn’t look that bad.”

Sometimes it isn’t.

To help reduce any negative stigma associated with gas station pizza and to encourage reader candor in the nominating process, I made a point last week of purchasing a few slices. I even took off my sunglasses during the transaction, which was done at an undisclosed location in a town east of Utica that rhymes more or less with “Burp-a-cure.”

I had a slice of cheese and a slice of broccoli/garlic. My dog Larry also ingested a slice of the latter. While the cheese slice suffered from too much sickly sweet tomato sauce, making it reminiscent of the pizza served in grade school, the broccoli/garlic was surprisingly decent. It had chunks of real garlic and a nice crispy underside.  If you don’t believe it was a quality food product, here is a video of Larry enjoying his slice:

I must disclose that immediately after eating the gas station pizza I came down with a heck of a stomach ache that lasted through the night. But I doubt there was any connection. Larry and I both ate the same thing, and he seemed fine.

See, there’s nothing wrong with eating gas station pizza other than it proves you’re human (unless you’re Larry) and that something isn’t quite right in your life at that moment.  Maybe you just didn’t plan your day well. Or circumstances beyond your control got the best of you. Or maybe you’re just incredibly stoned. Either way it’s no big deal. And if you haven’t had gas station pizza lately, this is your chance to find out what you’ve been missing.

Mangia! Mangia!

That’s Italian for “Fill up on Pump seven!”


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