Creativity in Pizza Box Design

Authentic Neapolitan Pizza pizzaiolas in Alpharetta, GA, USA

Authentic Neapolitan Pizza pizzaiolas in Alpharetta, GA, USA

Besides the health risks in pizza boxes, I detailed in a previous article, the market of pizzas also is a really dull one. All home-delivered pizzas are transported and presented in just the same design, i.E. a no-appetite-stimulating box made from corrugated paperboard. The frozen pizza market is no better. The boxes might look more luxurious in graphics and printing, but they are all the same as of coming from the same store. How can a consumer make a choice for an excellent, special and high-quality pizza, when in the same cool vitrine, there are a bunch of similar looking packages with a much cheaper, and much vulgar pizza quality.

Apparently the pizza manufacturer doesn’t know his customer. Am I too hard on the manufacturer? No, not quite!
A recent study by the Center for Generational Kinetics in Austin/Tx, commissioned by Smart Flour Foods, revealed that the pizza lover in America looks opposite from popular perception. A jaw-dropping 63% of pizza lovers in the U.S. are women! 41% of those women are Millennials and 68% of all pizza lovers exercise two or more times per week. So, not only are the majority of pizza lovers women, many are young and health conscious as well. To this group, natural ingredients options are very important, with 60% looking to avoid products that contain synthetic hormones, high fructose corn syrup, trans-fat, and artificial preservatives.

150836-Smart Flour Pizza W540 100dpi

It isn’t difficult to understand that this same group of conscious “pizza-lovers” is anxious to see their so-preferred “natural” pizza packaged in a matching pizza-box, representing creativity and convenience as well as meeting sustainability and health standards.

The commissioner (Smart Flour Foods) of this study titled “Pizza Lovers in America 2015: Unexpected Findings From a Generational Look At Pizza Trends”, claims “to offer pizza that delivers great taste, texture and nutrition through the power of ancient grains and natural ingredients”.
Well, let’s see Smart Flour Foods gets in the near future its pizza packaging (not the worst in the market, by the way) in line with its high-quality claims for the pizzas themselves.

Here are some examples.

The design, showed here below, is, in various media outlets, baptised as the “the pizza box of the future”. It is the result of a student-project by Yinan Wang of the Maryland Institute College of Arts.

Toss Pizza Box
This nicely engineered Toss pizza box is an interesting design, as it covers (wittingly or not-wittingly) five crucial elements of contemporary consumer research.

150389-pizza-toss-02-W540 100dpi

Firstly Sharing: Was and still is the Baby Boomer generation as egoistical and egocentric as possible, the following generations Gen-Y (Millennials) and Gen-Z in contrast are big in sharing. This social behaviour is evident when you look around at the social media.
Secondly Calorie Intake: I know, mainly in Europe, calorie intake is trending to lower down and sharing is getting more important. Miniatures are the right answer for that trend. You see it happen everywhere. According to Coca-Cola, smaller pack sizes are fuelling growth and winning the approval of customers.
Thirdly On-the-Go: It’s no secret that Gen-Y and Gen-Z are running around, always on-the-go. It’s also no secret that they want their snack or mini-meal during their daily duties. That means, sharing a pizza with some colleagues during lunch hour, results in greasy fingers dripping with trans-fat while heading for the conference room.
Fourth Free Choice: Sharing is nice, but try to get a consensus in a group a colleagues or friends about what pizza should be brought to the table.
And last, but not least
Fifth Conservation: Nobody is eating a full sized pizza alone. Either it’s shared with others or it has to be properly stored for a next occasion. Looking the next day at some dirty greasy pizza box is a discomfiture. Wasting food is a tremendous problem in this world, and thrown-away pizza left-overs are a large part of this problem.

So, after this exceptional positive list of crucial elements in the design result, what does the Toss pizza box actually look like?

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The idea of Yinan Wang for this new concept was the delivering of each pizza (frozen or home-delivered) by slice with the customer having the choice to make a selection of her preferred slices in terms of flavour and the quantity of each of the flavours. The pizza box it was thought to be made up from there.

The cleverly engineered packaging comes with a detachable holder at the end of each of the wedge boxes, allowing consumers on-the-go to eat conveniently without having to grease their hands.
Each wedge box is printed with the nutritional value at the back, and lists down the ingredients that were used to make the pizza.

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The design guarantees that the pizza left-overs can be stored without needing the space in the refrigerator for a whole pizza box. Complaints about the idea that the individual packaged pizza wedges are a little over the top by using so much packaging material for just one pizza with everything in the world slimming down, are not relevant, when we are looking at the potential of reducing food waste.

Not included in Wang’s design, but while we are at it, let’s not forget to incorporate some “susceptor” in the bottom of the boxes, to make sure the microwave is baking it crispy.

The susceptor material consists of a polyester film onto which an optically thin layer of metallization has been deposited. The deposition thickness is critical and applied so that it effectively reacts with the microwave energy to generate heat - Photo courtesy

The susceptor material consists of a polyester film onto which an optically thin layer of metallization has been deposited. The deposition thickness is critical and applied so that it effectively reacts with the microwave energy to generate heat – Photo courtesy

Already in 2009 I wrote an article about the introduction by Sadia in Brazil of pizza wedges. The box of the individual packaged pizza wedges has a special base for microwave preparation, keeping the dough crusty and the toppings succulent. The consumer just lifts the cover film from its thermoformed base and places the pizza wedge sitting in the thermoformed bottom in the microwave. The from BOPP film thermoformed bottom holds a laminate, called “susceptor” that puts extra heat where it’s needed, reducing the time preparation while browning and crisping the product.
In the Toss pizza box we can suffice with incorporating the susceptor in the paperboard material.

For the next example we go to Japan, where exclusive creativity in packaging design reigns supreme in every corner of the consumer products market.

Shigaraki Rice Flour Pizza
This is a package design for rice flour pizza made from Omi rice, which comes from Shiga, the region in Japan which is famous for rice growing. The pizza is hand-made in an oval shape to make it perfectly fitting in a toaster.

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The box of the Pizza Shigaraki is created by Osaka/Japan born, product designer Masahiro Minami. The assistant professor at the University of Shiga Prefecture Department of Living Design, created this box for UP cafe Shigaraki.

On the outer side of the box there is a window frame made in the shape of a rice seed. After folding the die-cut and hook it up, it will get the form of a rice seed.

For the construction of the packaging the designer used dark green paper inside and pure white paper outside. The printing in high chromogenic silver is on the dark green side.

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The printing on the inner green side is made in one simple colour to reduce costs, but with the effect that by turning the packaging from side to side the beautiful green is seen in the outer white colour. The missing part which matches the upper right part of the rice can be caught when the packaging is turned.
The dog logo of the restaurant is hidden inside.

I just want to end this article about pizza boxes with a fun design.

Look-O-Look Candy Pizza
Look-O-Look, the confectionery brand of Perfetti Van Melle, shifted its operations to a new market segment. It created a candy pizza in a real pizza-box, so that consumers really think they buy an original pizza and when the box is opened they find a pizza made of candy.
It’s a great idea for children’s birthdays and parties.

150458-Perfetti Van Melle Look-O-Look candy pizza W540 100dpi

In this concept, the packaging is very important. It must be attractive, as people needed to see the gimmick. Unfortunately the marketing team of Perfetti Van Melle didn’t have much choice, as it was very important that the Look-O-Look pizza box looked exactly like that of a real Italian pizza.
The box is also used qua dimensions and materials a faithful copy of the traditional pizza box.

150458-Look-O-Look-Candy-pizza-to-provide-international-sales-topping-W540 100dpi

Perfetti Van Melle also launched a mini version of its candy pizza and a ‘Jungle Pizza’, which was made in collaboration with a German reality show.

Enough about pizza boxes

3 responses to “Creativity in Pizza Box Design

  1. Dear Anton

    This is Roberto from Brazil, a regular reader from your articles, which for me are number one world wide….

    I’m writing to see if you could support me with one issue.

    We are looking for microrite cartoon trays to pack ready meals and the only company i could find that produce this trays is GPI .

    Would you be so kind to let me know if any other player would be in condition to produce such tray ?


    Roberto Hinrichsen

    Executive Director

    Trading Marks do Brasil | Rua Jandiatuba 630, Sala 243

    São Paulo | Sp | Brasil | 05716-150 | Tel: +55 (0) 11 2339-8090

    Mob +55 (0) 11 9 8182 0203 | Skype: trading_marks

    • Roberto, thanks for your comment. Your problem is that Microrite and the susceptor technology as a whole is a brandname and a patented development of Graham. There are some alternatives, knock-offs etc. For Brasil you can try the following:
      MeadWestvaco Packaging Resources Group (, Stamford, Conn/USA.
      In this days after merger renamed WestRock and for Brasil you can try
      Furthermore SmurfitKappa recently bought interest in 2 Brazilian packaging companies. Try its headquarters in Ireland (They don’t have a Brazilian website yet).
      There are some alternatives to the susceptor technology, mainly in Europe. You have to tell me more details what you want, before I can direct you to a proper replacement. Use my email address for further info (see About page)

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