Sometimes innovation happens where we least expect it. Think of the pizza box.
At Domino’s, the key is efficiency. They selected the corner-cut box so that employees could quickly fold hundreds of boxes. One pizza box expert, Scott Weiner, says he folded 300 boxes at Dominos during one hour.
For you and me, though, the box is crucial for texture and taste. Because it is inappropriately vented, a traditional pizza box softens the crust. To make it worse, as the pizza crust becomes soggy, it absorbs the taste of the paper.
According to Wired, a Mumbai businessman has solved the problem. The winner of the best pizza box award (from Scott Weiner, the pizza box expert), Vinay Mehta created a box that lets the steam exit through an escape route at the top without affecting the pizza. His innovation was a “fluted middle layer” of cardboard that sends the steam along a different route. We could say that he added a new wrinkle to corrugated box technology.
A bit tough to imagine, the concept is here:
And here are other pizza boxes from Scott Weiner’s 650 box collection:
Long ago Edwin Mansfield (1930-1997), a University of Pennsylvania economist, said that a seemingly small innovation can have a large impact through its private and social return. While he was referring to inputs like a new kind of thread, a new pizza box also will generate a private and a social return. The private return might go to the inventor and initial producers. But then, the ripple of a considerable social benefit unfolds when other people use the invention as a springboard for saving time and generating knowledge.
Sources and Resources: Between Quartz and Wired and Scott Weiner’s Slate article, you can learn all you ever wanted to know and more about pizza boxes. If you want to read about Edwin Mansfield’s work, this article clearly sums up his research.