Went to Target tonight. Had to get on the highway and drive fast and listen to music, and after I got off the radio I jumped in the Element and was on the broad road in three minutes. Right before I hit the highway I passed Toppers Pizza, which is due to open next week. Thought: did I blog about that? Or did I just think I did?

Meant to. When I saw the store go up I figured it was a chain, and I had an instinctive dislike for two reasons: the typeface, and the proclamation that TOPPERSTIX would be served. These are not sufficient reasons to discount a new selection in one’s pizza pantheon. As for the font, it has a 60s California surf / tiki vibe that’s reinforced by the crown, and it seemed like an odd association to make. Add burger and cars, and you have something. TOPPERSTIX said “hot thick bread that tastes like fiberglas tomorrow, and comes with dippin’ sauce,” and I’m not a bread-stick guy. If there’s a definition of empty carbs you regret when the pants are tight, it’s “bread sticks you dip in thick liquid.”

But as I said, I’ll give it a chance. Googled. Homepage has a promotional video aimed at prospective franchise operators. This did not help.

First: the bare spare office of the founder. I love the fact that the franchise pitchman / owner is named Gittrich, which is the perfect name for a franchise pitchman. But watch the proposal. It’s demographically targeted pizza. At :50 he actually stops talking to us to look at a text message joke, which he doesn’t share with us. Message: we have an innate understanding of the lack of social graces found among young people who look at their phones a lot, and also like pizza. And hey, I’m wearing funny pants! Maybe it’ll be a meme! Maybe my funny pants will go viral!


There’s very little about pizza here, but there’s hip stuff the young kids do, like planking. 1:36. Seriously: it’s insights like knowing about planking that connects with the audience, who thinks “if they know about planking, they understand my pizza needs.” I’d forgotten about planking. For the target market planking is something they no longer have to care about knowing about.

There’s a map of currently available locations, which is clever: it manages to make it look as though the chain is nationwide already, even though the opposite is true. Then, chicks playing Twister with a goat while a naked guy reads a book! Also old people necking. All that’s missing is Tron Guy as Nyan cat!

Then, the playlist kicks up an ad:



It’s a change from the ads that show a cheesy pizza with the cutter plowing through the cheese and the slice being lifted up to show how the cheese is gooey and cannot relinquish its connection to adjacent slices, but the message I take away is this: the guy who ordered the pizza is probably dead, and the exploding dye pack seems like blood, which reminds me of pizza sauce, but not in a good way.

But hey, this will sell pizza:




Is that the guy from Shaun of the Dead???!!! No.

I’ll try it, and I’m interested. But I await the ratio of cheese to sauce, and the quality of the latter. Cheese is easy.

Sauce is hard.


Richard Beals died. He was 85. Best known as the voice of Speedy Alka-Seltzer. Worked with Buster Keaton.



He did little-boy voices his entire life; if you listen to old radio, you hear him all over the place, ever ageless. It wasn’t just mimicry: he was 4 foot 7, about 80 pounds. He cited a glandular condition that kept him from experiencing adolescence, and whether that means he remained unstirred by, well, stirrings, I don’t know. His wikipedia bio says that Walter Tetley had the same problem.

Now, Walter Tetley was the voice of Leroy, the kid in “The Great Gildersleeve,” and his story was different: he said his mom wanted to keep riding the gravy train from her son’s show-biz work, so she had him “Fixed.” Yikes. Seems to go with the picture:

Thanks, Ma, for having me castrated.

He was also the voice of Sherman on the Rocky and Bullwinkle show.

Interesting notes: he was almost killed riding a motorcycle when he was 56, and Beals, despite his size, flew private planes.


A batch of Wards 1961 up, right here. See you Monday!







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