February 22, 2012
This is your Famous Original New York Minute.
The Flash Mob is reading The Hunger Games in the book club and while I’m not reading it I am kind of hungry. What do I want? Pizza. Who doesn’t love pizza? Seriously, if you don’t love pizza then go to your kitchen and munch on a Quiche for the next few minutes because I am going to be talking about the most American of foods.
Sure, I know that pizza comes from Italy but like bagels and Gordon Ramsey, America has embraced pizza and made it its own. And not just anywhere in America, but New York. Think about it- New York City, Little Italy, ’nuff said.
How many pizzerias are there in New York City? I’ve been a little too busy to go out and count them, but some internet research yields numbers anywhere from 1,000 to over 3,000. Whichever number you go with, I think it is too low. Where I live in Bensonhurst, the pizza capital of Brooklyn, there are over a dozen within a 15-minute walk. And I am not counting chain shops like Domino’s or Papa Johns. I’m talking about neighborhood places where you can go in and order a slice and a soda.
One pizza place that is not near my home is Ray’s Pizza, and if you live in New York you know how odd that is. Ray’s pizza is not a chain, it is simply the most imitated name in the city. Stroll around Manhattan and you will see store after store after store with some variation of Ray’s Pizza.
Famous Ray’s Pizza
Original Ray’s Pizza
Famous Original Ray’s Pizza
World Famous Original Ray’s Pizza
Ray’s Pizza of Broadway
Not Ray’s Pizza
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. For the most part, none of these places have any connection with each other.
While there are close to 50 Ray’s pizza places in New York, you won’t find the first. The real original Ray’s Pizza, which opened in 1959, went out of business just before Halloween of last year.
But the original Ray, whose name was not Ray at all, but Ralph, can rest easy knowing that he spawned a true New York legend.
Now before all you Chicago pizza people start yelling, I’ve been to Chicago and eaten your pizza. It’s good. New York’s is better. Get over it.
This has been your New York Minute. I’m off to the Flash Mob on Facebook where I am sure The Great Pizza Debate is about to erupt. After all, that’s the place where we still go gaga over Canadian vs. American candy.
I’m just looking to stir up a little trouble this week.
An audio version of this legend recently appeared (or is about to!) in the amazing FlashPulp website. Check them out for awesomeness and goodies!