Typically, when outsiders attempt to define Minnesota's flyover multitudes, it doesn't go well. We nearly threatened secession during the Great Grape Salad Battle of 2014.
But sometimes the national media does offer on-point analysis of our dietary peculiarities. Consider the so-called "Minnesota-style" pizza, a head-scratching concept that's spurred debate beyond state lines.
First, some background: On Tuesday, the Pioneer Press highlighted Red's Savoy new marketing tagline -- "Sota-style since 1965."
Uh-huh. OK, what does that mean? Here's the PiPress:
"The characteristics of Minnesota-style pizza, according to the Savoy team, are a thin crust, square cut, loads of toppings and cheese, and a spicy 'passive-aggressive' sauce."
Ah-ha! So it's Red's Savoy bending over backwards to regionalize pizza, à la Chicago's deep dish and New York's foldable thin crust. Problem is, you can't just invent authenticity like that, especially when you're ostensibly describing Heggies, the ubiquitous, party-cut bar pizza that actually carries Minnesota-specific cachet. Conveniently, "Sota-style" also describes Savoy's pie to a T.
Explain yourself, Savoy president Reed Daniels.
"We started out asking this question: We have really great food in the Twin Cities, but what is Minnesota food? We have the juicy lucy, sure, but we also have our kind of pizza," Daniels told the PiPress. "Transplants -- people who move to Florida, Arizona, their plane touches down here, the first thing they do is go get a Savoy pizza. We’re a staple."
The Star Tribune, Minneapolis-St. Paul Magazine, the Duluth News Tribune, and now, it seems, City Pages, all jumped into the cheesy debate. Move over, Pizzagate!
Nationally, popular food website The Takeout smelled bullshit. While noting that Red's Savoy is respected locally, writer Kevin Pang probed into its dubious "Sota-style" claims, blasting off messages to food writer pals in Minnesota.
The most emphatic answer came courtesy of Twin Cities foodie celeb Andrew Zimmern. "Fuck no," he responded when asked if there's such thing as Minnesota-style pizza.
"That’s just their marketing, it’s not actually a thing," accurately added another of Pang's Minnesota-rooted peers. "Nobody in Minnesota would consider there to actually be such a thing, or use that phrase."
Our resident expert, CP food editor Em Cassel, had this to say:
"Feels like nothing more than a super obvious -- and very successful -- marketing move by Red's Savoy, to me. That being said, at least what we have is pizza and not a friggin' casserole. Looking at you, Chicago."
Well there you have it.
This hubbub won't halt the branding efforts underway at 15 Red's Savoy locations. Its pizza boxes are now splashed with copy that reads "hot dish" and "pull tabs," and the meat lover's pie is now billed as "The Meat Raffle."
In related news, Uncle Franky’s is trying to make "The MPLS Dog" a thing.