In following with the theme of student financial issues, I decided to pontificate on the most affordable of all campus pleasures, the great common ground of panhandlers and students alike: The slice of party store pizza.
Enlisting my roommates to assist me, we consecrated the evening by chugging warm keg beer (likely procured at one of the places we would later be dining) and hollered at some freshmen girls. Our advances ignored and rebuffed, we consigned ourselves to soaking up the suds with cheesy consolation, and thus attacked the Axis of Grease before us. The only criteria in our search for the best slice at the nicest price was that it had to come from a place that specifically did not specialize in serving pizza.
First stop: Diag Party Shoppe (340 S. State. Hours: Open until 1 a.m. Mon. – Thurs., 2 a.m. Fri. – Sat., Midnight on Sun.)
Price: $.99 for all slices. Choices include cheese, pepperoni, sausage and vegetable.
Grease factor: Crust seemed to have absorbed most of it. A deceptively heavy slice.
Sauce: Couldn’t really find it.
Availability of condiments: Crushed peppers and parmesan cheese on counter.
Presentation/atmosphere: Pizza served on a white paper plate. Styrofoam boxes available for littering/keeping pizza warm on longer trips.
Service: The guy at the counter was kind enough to cover my tax with the take-a-penny tray.
Final assessment: Bonus points for variety of slices, but it closes earlier than the others. “Fluffiest” pizza of the three.
Second stop: Jimmy’s Sgt. Peppers (1028 E. University. Hours: 3 open until 3 a.m. Sun. – Thurs., 4 a.m. Fri. – Sat.)
Price: $1 for cheese, $1.25 for vegetable or pepperoni.
Grease factor: No runoff upon folding of pizza. A few thick stains on the plate.
Crust: Crispy (read: burnt).
Sauce: Closer to tomato paste. Kind of dry, but the best tasting of the three.
Cheese: Most likely of the three to be close to 100 percent dairy.
Availability of condiments: Hot sauce, garlic, oregano, basil, pepper, hot Cajun spice, parmesan, hot chili sauce, salt and pepper are all available with slices.
Presentation/atmosphere: White paper plate. Between the wood paneling and the intermittent smell of marijuana, going to Jimmy’s is like hanging out in the basement of a guy you don’t know very well.
Service: The guy behind the counter sat on his can until his manager yelled at him to get us some pizza.
Final assessment: Best sauce of the three. It probably would’ve tasted better if it hadn’t been sitting around for so long and had been warm.
Third stop: In ‘n’ Out (615 E. University. Hours: Open until 3 a.m. Mon. – Thurs., 4 a.m. Fri. – Sat., 2:30 a.m. Sun.)
Price: $1 for cheese, $1.25 for pepperoni.
Grease factor: The paper plate the pizza came on was well soaked, but the slice could still be folded without causing runoff from the top.
Availability of condiments: Hot sauce, garlic, oregano, basil, pepper, hot Cajun spice, Parmesan, hot chili sauce, salt and pepper are all available with slices.
Presentation/atmosphere: Pizza served on a white paper plate. The counter is near enough to the pornographic magazine rack that the covers of said magazines can be perused while one is waiting to be served.
Service: Second plate was offered when my roommate ordered both cheese and pepperoni slices. Intoxication of late night employees is sometimes a problem (you haven’t seen disappointment until you’ve seen a pizza, fresh out of the oven, dropped on the floor in front of a half-dozen very hungry/stoned guys).
However, service from employees younger than 12 (occurs at various times of the day, including the 2 a.m. slot) is not a problem, as they are less likely to be intoxicated and drop the pizza. Also, you want a child’s honesty at the register when you are drunk and forking over cash.
Final assessment: I would have eaten the pizza off the floor if they had given it to me free.
Conclusion: There is no clear winner in the party store pizza challenge. The choice of which establishment to visit should be based on proximity.