Steve Shannon’s Open Letter to Casey’s: Why is Your Pizza So Ridiculously Good
It is really hard to put into words how good this pizza actually is. No disrespect to the organization whatsoever, but you're not what was expected.
I grew up in Madison, Wisconsin, not a city well known for its pizza. But, it is a state well known for its cheese. A mediocre cheese can wreck any pizza right from the start. There were two pizza joints I grew up on, Pizza Pit and Rocky Rococos. And, they each provided a unique pizza. Pizza Pit was a thinner crust with a vary savory cheese and seasoning, and Rocky's was a saucier deep dish-style pizza (and the largest pieces of Italian sausage that I'd ever seen).
Since moving to Rockford in 1995, I've had the good fortune to know how truly blessed pizza lovers are in the Stateline area. There are so many amazing pizza joints in the 815. I've lived in many places in between Madison and Rockford, and only one thing about pizza was the same no matter where I was living... gas station pizza was never very good. Eating pizza from the place where you filled your gas tank was always as a last resort. That all changed the first time I ate a slice of pizza from Casey's General Store.
I still remember exactly when I had that first slice of Casey's pepperoni pizza. It was on Rockton Road in Rockton, Illinois, May 24, 2016. I was on my way to a concert in Milwaukee and had stopped to get some gas. My friend said we should grab some pizza, so while I pumped the gas, he went a got us an entire pizza. I took that first bite, before pulling away from the pump and LOST MY MIND! How could a gas station pizza possibly taste like this?
Seriously!?! I'm sure I'm not the only one that wonders, Casey's why is your pizza so amazing? What are you doing in that kitchen. No disrespect to any crackheads, but I'm addicted to this pizza, like it might have some crack in it. There's something about that dough you're making in that kitchen, that just lights up all my pleasure centers. Light, airy, and tastes like it's homemade. That cheese was touched my something divine and the sauce is as near perfect as I've ever had. What's your secret, Casey's?
It was mid-June, just a few weeks after that first taste, when I returned to that same Casey's one morning for a cup of coffee and some more gas. When I walked inside to get that coffee I smelled something else really good, but it was different than the pizza I was used to smelling. That was the day I tried Casey's breakfast pizza. And again, WHY DOES A GAS STATION HAVE PIZZA THIS RIDICULOUSLY GOOD!? Seriously, does anyone know why?
Even Food & Wine agrees with me, writing in June of 2018, 'This Gas Station Pizza Is the Unlikely Hero of Your Next Midwest Road Trip.'
"Pizza in convenience stores is hardly unique, but for the most part, it will tend to be the stuff of last resort. There's something, however, about the pizza at Casey's that gets people talking. Some Midwesterners will tell you that Casey's makes the greatest pizza around; others can't believe that people are so excited by pizza from a gas station. Either way, so closely linked is Casey's to its pizza, you'll see many stores classified as Pizza Restaurants in certain popular map searches."
What is it about this pizza that makes it so good, any idea? Please share.
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Steve Shannon is host of The Steve Shannon Show on 97ZOK. On the air weekday mornings from 6 to 10 a.m. and a special 'Rewind' show, featuring favorite moments from previous shows, on Saturday mornings from 5 to 7 a.m.. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram, and like his page on Facebook.