Saint Paul Pioneer Press
25 September 1996

Pizza lingo tends to be bit crusty

By David Hawley

When it comes to pizza shops, mushrooms are "screamers," a slice of pepperoni is a "flyer," sausage is called "Alpo" and anyone - including men - can get PMS.

In this case, however, PMS stands for pepperoni, mushrooms and sausage.

If you've ever visited a pizza shop on a busy day, you've probably witnessed the controlled chaos as pizzas are readied for the oven, sliced, thrown into boxes and rushed out the door. It's the essence of fast food, and the language that punctuates this frenzied activity includes technical terms, code words and slang - sometimes very vulgar slang.

Gwen Foss, who spent nearly a decade as a "Dominoid" for Domino's Pizza, was so intrigued by the slang of the business that she compiled a glossary of pizza jargon. Layered with terms like "bondage pie" (for the S&M in sausage and mushrooms) and "remake man" (denoting a clumsy employee who ruins pizzas), the lengthy glossary was published in the recent edition of Maledicta, an offbeat language journal.

"I was a runner for Domino's for three years," says Foss, who is now editorial director for a small book-publishing company, JSA Publications, in suburban Detroit.

"A runner is a euphemism for a driver," Foss explains. "After doing that, I was a manager-in-training for five years, which is the term they use for assistant manager."

Every business has its slang expressions, but pizza places are different because of the speed factor, Ms. Foss says.

"Many of the words they use are commands that are shouted to one another, and the same expressions get moved from store to store because Domino's shares employees," she says.

Ms. Foss, who is now editorial director for a small book-publishing company, JSA Publications in suburban Detroit, says she started jotting down the expressions "because I'm a language buff." But when the list got long enough to become a "glossary," she started looking around for a place to have it published. Maledicta, which is billed as "the international journal of verbal aggression," turned out to be the best place for it, she says.

A note of caution, however: "A lot of the glossary is really filthy, so it's not suitable for other journals," Ms. Foss says. "But Maledicta is full of filthy stuff."

Maledicta is published every six months by Maledicta Press, P.O. Box 14123, Santa Rosa, Calif. 95402; telephone: (707) 795-8178.

Slice of slang
Here are some excerpts from the Maledicta glossary of pizzeria code words:

  • Alpo - Taken from the dog-food brand and used to describe sausage topping. Other words for sausage include Kibbles n' Bits, Puppy Chow, dog food and Snausages.
  • Blood pie - A pizza with extra sauce. Also called a hemorrhage.
  • Carp - Term for anchovies. Also called guppies, chovies, flippers, penguin food, smellies.
  • Destroy - To top a pizza with everything, given as a command: "Destroy it!"
  • Edgar Allan - A slang expression for a pizza with pepperoni (P) and onions (O) - making it a PO pie, as in Edgar Allan Poe.
  • Flyers and fungus - Expression for a pepperoni and mushroom pizza. Pepperoni slices are called "flyers" because they can be thrown like Frisbees.
  • Green slime - Term for green peppers, coined because they are sometimes inadequately stored. Peppers are also called "mangos" and "seaweed."
  • Hawaiian pie - A pizza with ham and pineapple. Other terms for ham are hammer, pig slices, squealers, piggy parts and sliders.
  • Placer - A customer who places a hair on a pizza and then complains about it in hopes of getting a discount or a free pizza.
  • Republican pizza - A pizza with GOP (green peppers, onions, pepperoni).
  • Screamer - a large juicy chunk of a canned mushroom that emits a high-pitched sound when rubbed on a hot surface.
  • Screamers and squealers - A pizza with mushrooms and bacon.
  • Starver - A customer who orders a pizza, then claims he didn't order it but will buy it at a discount.
  • Stoner - A customer who doesn't know his own address. Taken from "stoned," as being under the influence of drugs.
  • Vulture pie - A badly made pizza, suitable only for vultures or for eating by employees.

Copyright © 1996
Saint Paul Pioneer Press

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