McDonald's Pizza Might Be Coming To Orlando's I-Drive Location, So Here's A Brief History Of The Fabled Fast Food Item
Weird fast food items come and go, but to borrow a few words from Stephen King, sometimes they come back. Case in point: McDonald's pizza might be returning — but not for a while, and in this case, only to one particular location. It's part of the planned menu for a new franchise location being built on International Drive in Orlando, Fla., but believe you me: It's not going to be like any McDonald's pizza you've seen before.
In an article covering the groundbreaking celebration for the “I-Drive McDonald's,” as it's being called, the Orlando Business Journal detailed a few of the features the new restaurant will have. And you guys? It sounds unexpectedly chi-chi. For one thing, it will have those wacky “Create Your Taste” burger kiosks; and even more surprisingly, it will have the fanciest version of McDonald's pizza you can possibly imagine. The pizza and pasta kitchen will be “open design,” as well as centered around a wood-fire oven — so we're not talking sad little microwaved pizzas here. We're wood-fired, “we mean business” deliciousness (or something).
We don't have a ton of details beyond that right now, but it's intriguing, is it not? So, in honor of this somewhat surprising news, let's take a brief look at the history of McDonald's pizza:
The story begins in the 1980s, and, well... the '80s were a weird time. (I say this as someone who was born during them, so I fully accept the fact that I, as a product of them, am also weird). Not only were they full of big hair and blue eyeshadow, but even weirder, they're when a few unexpected additions made their way to the McDonald's dinner menu. An effort to expand the chain's repertoire beyond burgers, these additions were thematically Italian; McSpaghetti was one of them, and pizza was another.
In June of 1986, the New York Times reported that McDonald's was testing something called “McPizza.” McPizza wasn't so much a pizza as it was a calzone; consisting of a crust stuffed with a few kinds of cheese, ground beef, and pepperoni, it resembled a Hot Pocket more than anything else. Presumably was the idea for people to be able to grab them from the drive-through and be able to eat them on the go.
Then, in 1989, an actual pizza emerged. There appear to have been a few versions of it: Initially, according to the unofficial McDonald's Wikia, it was meant to be a “family-sized pizza that was brought out to the table by an employee and placed on a raised rack in the center of the table”; later on, it was scaled down to a personal-sized pizza, mostly for practical reasons (a full pizza box didn't fit through the drive-through window; making them was costly and time-consuming; and so on and so forth). It's worth noting that the McDonald's Wikia doesn't cite any sources, so you we may want to take what's on there with a grain of salt — but it's interesting nonetheless. What we do know for sure is this: In September of 1989, the New York Times reported that a 14-inch pizza started at $5.80, with the deluxe versions selling for more than $9 — “considerably more than most of the other items on McDonald's menu.”
None of the pizza options were a hit, though, and by the early '90s, pizza quietly began exiting the McDonald's menu. According to some sources, it had been discontinued pretty much everywhere by 2000 — although to be honest, I'd be surprised if it actually did last that long. 10 years is a long, slow, agonizing death.
But as of January of 2015, McDonald's pizza was still available at some locations — exactly two of them, to be precise. According to Eater, two franchises owned by Greg Mills—one in Pomery, Ohio, and one in Spencer, West Virginia — still serve McDonald's pizza; the Pomeroy location even serves both the family size and personal pan pizza size. The options' popularity waxes and wanes; employee Judy Norman, who has been working there for 11 years, told Canada.com that there are “days when everyone wants pizza and there are days where every so often you get a pizza.” For example, she said that the location had sold 13 pizzas the day before the article went to print.
Now, apparently, we can add one more franchise to the list of places where you'll (potentially) be able to get McDonald's pizza. Part of my wonders whether this time round, it will be more like a Chipotle or Blaze Pizza kind of thing, with each pie made to order — but only time will tell. The I-Drive McDonald's is scheduled to open in February of 2016, so stay tuned!