Why That Tiny Piece Of Plastic On Your Pizza Is A True Lifesaver

It serves a valuable purpose.
jimewing2121 via Getty Images

Have you ever opened your pizza delivery and seen a tiny plastic tripod perched at the pizza’s center? It turns out it’s not actually a kitchen table for ants.

This device is called a pizza saver, and it’s been protecting your precious pizza for over 30 years.

Delivery pizza has been coming in cheap cardboard boxes since the dawn of time. These boxes are great for many reasons ― they’re inexpensive and easily recyclable ― but the thin cardboard lid does tend to sag. And if the center of the lid is depressed enough to make contact with the pizza within, all hell breaks loose. The cheese is ripped off the pizza and sticks to the top of the box.

According to Gizmodo, a Long Island woman named Carmela Vitale recognized this problem back in the 1980s, and set about inventing a fix. Vitale came up with designs for the pizza saver, or as she called it, a “package saver,” in 1983. Vitale submitted a patent request for the design that year, and her patent was approved in 1985.

While not every pizza delivery company uses them and they currently sell for less than one cent apiece, Eater estimates that a single manufacturer of pizza savers could be raking in as much as $8 million per year because of the high volume of pizza sales. Unfortunately, it appears that Vitale never manufactured pizza savers herself, Eater reports: She let her patent lapse in 1993, and she passed away in 2005.

The next time you crack open your pizza box, thank Vitale and her pizza saver for keeping your cheesy slice of heaven intact.

US Patent And Trademark Office