New York-style candy corn pizza: The journey continues to continue
hey clowns, wanna try some?
Happy Tuesday, clowns!
Hope you had an awesome Halloween weekend!
Davida and I dressed up as Jay and Silent Bob and we went to our friends’ place to hang out on the porch, drink weird wine, and hand out candy. The costumes were Davida’s idea, and we got most of the stuff either at thrift stores or by shopping online. I’d say we looked pretty good, wouldn’t you?
As you can tell, I did a good job growing that beard, and it wasn’t dabbed on by Davida an hour earlier or anything.
Now, on Halloween morning, I’d visited the outpost of Paulie Gee’s Wicker Park, where they make big New York-style pizzas, which are absolutely delicious. New York-style slices are a rarity in Chicago, so having a genuine slice shop here is a pretty big deal. I learned how to stretch, top, and fire off NY-style pies during my time at the Logan Square location, and I’d always wanted to do something at the Wicker Park location.
It seemed like a bunch of people on Twitter were fucking around with or talking about candy corn last week. This included my friend Jonathan Surratt, who made this horrifying-looking Candy Corn Dog (which I’m very impressed with) for his blog, Bounded by Buns, which reminded me of this viral photo that goes around every year around now.
Now, if you’ve been a long-time reader of my newsletter, you may remember that about two years ago, I actually recreated this infernally stupid candy corn pizza with two different styles, Neapolitan and Detroit.
But, I’ve been armed with a new style since then, and I said to myself, “Dannis Ree, as the greatest food writer and pizzamaker in all of history, you owe it to yourself and the fine, perpetually pizza-territorial city of New York, to ruin their pizza by putting loads of candy corn on it.”
I called my former coworker Tony DeZutter, who’s now a managing partner at Paulie Gee’s Wicker Park, to see if I could come in and fuck around. Of course he said yes, because I am the greatest former coworker in all of history, on top of all the other dumb accolades I constantly make up about myself.
I also invited my friend Leor Galil, who’s a music writer at the Chicago Reader, to join me. Leor seems to have a particular affinity for candy corn, and he was excited about the idea of trying a candy corn pizza. I’d never met Leor in person, but I figured that threatening him with potentially disgusting pizza was a good way to start a friendship.
Here’s Leor stretching his very first Paulie Gee’s pizza dough.
As you can see, he’s now a professional pizzamaker and a music writer. He will sweep up the James Beard Grammys next year or something.
I wanted to recreate the initial viral photo of the DiGiorno pizza topped with candy corn, so we set up a plain cheese pizza as a base, with just sauce and mozzarella.
We ended up putting a whole bag of candy corn on our first pie.
I do not think you quite understand how much candy corn can fit on a 20” pizza. If I had to estimate, one could probably could handle approximately 873,485 candy corn kernels. You could probably cover a 20” pizza with about 47 golf balls too. That sounds pretty good. Next time.
Tony launched this pie into the oven with glee.
Just seeing this in person was hilarious. This is some professional shit right here. Fancy oven, nice dough, and candy corn. I briefly considered throwing my cell phone into the expensive pizza oven just to feel something again.
During the bake, you’ve got to spin pizza so it cooks evenly.
No oven cooks perfectly, so to get a uniformly baked pie you just have to rotate it a little. This is what the pizza looked like after maybe four or five minutes of cooking. You’ll notice that the candy corn kernels were starting to dissolve into the surface of the pizza, but the crust wasn’t done cooking yet, so we put it back in for another minute.
Well, the final result for our first attempt wasn’t very pretty.
You could barely tell the candy corn was even on there at this point, since it had dissolved into the sauce and cheese. Tony tried hitting the pizza with a flamethrower (torch) to get some color on it, but it didn’t do jack shit. We’ll have to save pizza brûlée for another day.
Tony, Leor, and I, all tried a slice and I couldn’t eat more than a few bites. This thing was nightmarishly sweet, like someone had doused the whole pizza in a quart of high-fructose corn syrup. In my professional opinion, it probably could have used 100% less candy corn.
Now, for our second attempt, we decided to pull it out mid-bake and sprinkle candy corn on top before it was completely finished, so the candy corn didn’t melt completely.
That’s Chef Leor with the candy corn assist.
The final result on this one was much better.
You could see each kernel of candy corn, and inexplicably, the color on the candy appeared to have gotten much brighter. I’m not sure if it was because the candy corn was just shiny from the oven or what, but it was pretty intense.
While this slice was no less sweet, it somehow worked a lot better than the first attempt.
I surmise that it’s because the candy corn hadn’t completely disintegrated. So instead of getting a uniform sugar glaze that had melded into the sauce and cheese, I got bites of candy corn that sort of alternated with the salty and naturally sweet elements of the pizza. As I was eating it, one of the pieces of candy corn stuck to the side of one of my molars, cooled off, and completely solidified into a rock. Then I shoved the remainder of the pizza up my ass. Folded, of course.
But the question remained: Could we make a candy corn pizza that actually tasted good?
Our editor in chief at The Takeout, Marnie Shure, mentioned the other day that the only way she’d eat candy corn is if it was mixed with peanuts, which sounded interesting. A lightbulb went off in my bulbous head. I had a plan.
We topped a dough with nothing but mozzarella (no sauce) and baked it off.
Once the pizza was nearly finished cooking, we sprinkled on a reasonable amount of candy corn and a handful of peanuts, then let it finish cooking. After we pulled the pie out of the oven, we finished it off with fresh green onions, and finished the slice with some sriracha, which was Tony’s suggestion.
The result was actually, maddeningly delicious.
Each bite had all that sugar from the candy corn, a little crunchy snap from the peanuts, the sharp accent of green onion, and some bright spiciness from the sriracha. On paper, it’s a stupid-sounding combo, but in practice, it was pretty great. Then I shoved the rest of the pizza up my ass. Folded, of course.
I watched Tony take his first bite from across the shop, and saw him start laughing and shaking his head. Leor crushed his slice happily, and that’s when we all held hands and made a pact. We’d make this slice available to the public. Because why not, life is meaningless. Might as well start feeding all of you my garbage food in public, you know?
So guess what? If you’re in Chicago, you can try one of these slices on Thursday at Paulie Gee’s Wicker Park, at 1566 N. Damen Ave, starting at noon. There won’t be too many slices available, mostly because nobody has ever demanded a candy corn pizza in their life, and I do not want to make the restaurant lose money by being a culinary dumbass.
Unfortunately I won’t be there in person slinging slices this time (I’ll be workin’ my day job at The Takeout), but go support the pizzeria by trying a candy corn slice and order a few extra normal ones to go with it. Make sure you say hi to Tony while you’re at it. If you bug him enough maybe he’ll be convinced to let come back and do something even stupider later.
Everybody, please thank Leor for joining me on this wonderful journey into Ass-Pizza Land. Please spread the word about this dumb candy corn pie by sharing this edition of the newsletter. The more you share this newsletter, the more likely it is I’ll serve the public something even worse later.
Second of all, please consider a paid subscription to the newsletter. You’ll gain access to all the previous paid content at foodisstupid.substack.com, and if anything nuts happens on Thursday after the pizza goes on sale, I’ll be sure to let you paid subscribers know with a follow-up.
Lastly, don’t forget, I love you all. It’s getting chilly out, so bundle up, and I’ll pop into your inboxes soon.