At the risk of this sounding like sour grapes, I think it should be known that I, not the Subway Sandwich Corp., invented the Flatizza, nearly a decade ago, late one night in a sandwich shop on the University of Illinois campus. This was during the original low-carb craze — when everybody and their mother were trying to wrap their lunch in tortillas or flatbread. ("Fried chicken and bacon, now magically healthy in a low-carb wrap.")
The sandwich shop I worked at was positioned next door to a Subway, although we did not see them as competition anymore than Mario Batali sees competition with Chef Boyardee.
This is not to knock Subway at all — I don't always pay $5 for a foot of food, but when I do, I prefer the Italian BMT — but let's just say that the sub shop I worked at had avocado as a condiment a good four or five "Fast and the Furious" sequels before Subway, and we never had to "toast" our meatball marinara in a microwave — our meatballs came hot and fresh from the make line directly to your often intoxicated mouth.
Anyway, I can't say whether or not alcohol was involved in my invention of the Flatizza prototype, because I honestly don't remember (which leads me to believe that it probably was); but one night, in the wee hours of the morning, during closing time, I made an awe-inspiring breakthrough that, by all accounts, should have rocked the hoagie industry to its core.
I came to the realization that on a daily basis, the sub shop was throwing away a stack of low-carb wraps (because, all marketing and TV doctors aside, when people make the poor decision to eat a sandwich the size and shape of their shoe, they aren't looking to compromise on the vehicle in which it is delivered), not to mention all of the excess marinara that was left behind after we scooped our steaming hot meatballs out of its loving, and unappreciated, embrace.
In addition to these two surplus ingredients, the sandwich shop had an industrial oven that was only being used to bake loaves of bread in the morning (or during extreme lunch-rush situations) and a counter full of what could be traditionally considered pizza toppings — mushrooms, green peppers, onions, jalapenos, cheese, etc.
Now, it didn't take a genius to connect the dots — although, to my knowledge, no one before me had. Facilitating this connection may have been a byproduct of the inferiority complex I suffered as a professional deliverer of sandwiches. There is a caste system in the delivery world — one tied not only to prestige, but to total tips earned — and in Campustown, submarine sandwiches ranked near the bottom of the ladder, while pizza sat enthroned on the top rung.
As a hoagie courier, I saw this as a way to rocket to the top of the ladder, and maybe, just maybe, to break through the glass ceiling into the great unknown. To think, I may become the first sandwich/pizza hybrid delivery driver. I would live forever.
So, flushed with the excitement of discovery, I took one of the wraps, dumped some meatball marinara on top, employed a little bit of imagination and achieved what was previously thought to be impossible — I baked a homemade pizza using only ingredients found in a sandwich shop.
Was it any good? Eh, like a four out of ten. But the novelty factor was topping out the scale, and subsequent pizza-making experiments brought the flavor score up to a solid and respectable seven. (There is only so much lipstick you can put on a low-carb wrap, if you know what I mean.)
Enticed by the novelty — or, perhaps, regretting their decision to forgo pizza as an after-hours option — customers began to ask about the sandwich pizza, which I had at that point begun to lovingly refer to, and trademark, as the Sandwizza! (Both the exclamation point, and pronouncing it like a Super Mario Brother, are part of the trademark.)
I ran my invention by sub shop management and suggested that the campus store serve as a test market. Citing a general uneasiness with using the bread oven for Sandwizza! production and an overall lack of vision about my invention and its prospects on bringing in new business, they passed on the Sandwizza!
Time, and my eventual move up the caste system to the prestigious status of Legitimate Pizza Delivery Person, swallowed up my Sandwizza! invention like Atlantis — burying its progress deep below the oceans of a forgotten past.
That is, until now. A decade later. When Subway announced the Flatizza, and thus their desire to go to war with my intellectual property lawyer. They will not get away with such blatant theft of my greatest invention (second only to "Booze Chips" — patent pending).
Ryan Jackson had to pull this column out of a hat, because his original submission didn't clear The News-Gazette's Standards and Practices, and he can be reached at email@example.com.