While trying to determine the ways the archives were corrupted during the December, 2019 failed forum software migration, I came across posts I made about trying to find the Topp’s frozen pepperoni pizza the US military commissaries were selling in Europe around 1972-1973. I always remember the manufacturer being Topp’s Frozen Foods, possibly located in something like Marshall, MN. I could never find the pizza in the Greater New York area. Eventually, Tony’s pizza became available in the New York area. It did list Schwan’s of Marshall, MN as the manufacturer. I tried it, but it was not a match for Topp’s.
I once went to the central branch of the (now) Queens Public Library and went through their industry directories, looking for Topps Frozen Foods. I could find nothing about them. With the advent of the Internet, I kept searching. I was now able to do a trademark search. Again, nothing showed up.
I got real lucky over Christmas 2018. I was searching on Google or Yahoo images (I forget which) for something relating to pizza, when I can across some advertising images for Tony’s pizza, circa early 70’s. Bingo. The Tony’s name popped out at me. It was not the current typeface, but more like calligraphy. If you glanced at it real fast, you could mistake it for Topp’s. I immediately recognized it and realized my mistake. I don’t know why my mind switched Topp’s with Tony’s, except maybe because the Topps company was still a big player in the New York Area, making baseball cards and the bubble gum that decorated the walkways (as black blobs) in the New York subway stations.
On March 3, 2019 at 4:22 AM I came across a photo of an old four-color Tony’s Supreme pizza cardboard box on Flickr. That was my other recollection. Most of the front of the box was filled with a picture of a Supreme pizza. It was close enough. In the upper left-hand corner was the Tony’s logo. That was it. Schwan’s of Marshall, MN had bought the Tony’s pizza operation in Salina, KS about 1970. I thought that was the end of the line and end of the story.
One week the summer of 2019, Stop & Stop supermarkets on Long Island had a killer deal on Red Baron pizza. Red Baron is now also owned by Schwan’s, or rather the spinoff of Schwan’s that now owns the plant in Salina, KS where both Tony’s and Red Baron are made. Most supermarkets normally just stock the pepperoni in the Classic Crust and Brick Oven varieties. This store just had the Thin & Crispy variety available. So, I took it along to my sister’s house, where I was going to make some repairs. After finishing up, she baked me my cheapo snack. Imagine my surprise, when what I bit into instantly brought me back to 1973. The taste and texture were pretty close. I turned the pizza over, and there were still the concentric circles in the crust though not as pronounced as before.
Doing a post-mortem, one of the ads I found was dated 1972 and a newspaper ad. It gave names of supermarket chains that sold Tony’s pizza. Two of the names on the list are A&P (R.I.P.) and ShopRite. If they got the pizza into NY/NJ, it was a short trip to MOTBY (Military Ocean Terminal Bayonne). I never went into A&P or ShopRite back then. Red Baron started up in 1976. I tried Red Baron when it first reached New York, but I don’t think it was Thin & Crispy, and did not taste like what I was looking for. My tastes evolved over the years, of course. The premium brands of Palermo’s frozen pizza are far superior to that Red Baron pizza. But, I had to have that early 70’s Tony’s pizza again for old time’s sake.
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Timed 11:48 PM EDST Saturday, March 14, 2020
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