Combining choreography and cooking, Pizza Acrobatics is a sport. During the end of March, Las Vegas will host the World Pizza Games. Then, after that, we can go to Parma, Italy for the Pizza World Championships.
A first place gets you the coveted “engraved” pizza peel:
Like most sports, pizza acrobatics is also a business. The 5-time World Champ, Tony Gemignano, reputedly tossed the pizza dough 15 feet in the air (could they have had such high ceilings?) as diners waited for their food in his family’s pizza place. Similarly, at this Florida restaurant, the owner and his employees display acrobatic skills as they make their pizza.
At a compeitition, you can bring your own dough or take what they give you. Competitors minimimize ripping by eliminating the yeast while adding extra salt, protein, and gluten. During a performance, the judges rate creativity, agility, and showmanship. You lose points for dropping the dough.
In this video, pizza acrobats throw the dough over their heads, behind their backs, and through their legs:
Our Bottom Line: Competitive Market Structures
At this point we can see where the competitions and competition converge at our local pizza restaurant.
Competing in a monopolistically competitive market, each restaurant produces a similar commodity. Because a pizza place is neither complex nor very expensive, market entry and exit are somewhat easy. The question then is how to differentiate your pizza–the monopolistic part– and get some price making power. For Tony Gemignano and others like him, a performance is a differentiator (althougb some say the toss also adds to the dough’s moisture).
Along the following continuum, the supply and demand of monopolistically competitive markets constrain the power of pizza restaurants. To see the businesses that have more power, we have to move to the right to the oligopoly slot where we find larger enterprises like Apple and Kellogg’s:
So, where are we? I wonder if we can return to where we began and conclude that pizza acrobatic competitions are also monopolistically competitive.
My sources and more: Rather astoundingly, once you’ve heard about pizza acrobatics, you can find a slew of articles. First, thanks to my Axios Closer email newsletter for the introduction. From there, The Washington Post, ESPN (of course), and Fox News had more detail and examples. And finally, we could compare pizza acrobats to the extreme eaters we’ve looked at.