Transforming pizza from a humble staple dish into a vehicle for outrageous toppings and mind-boggling crust styles is undoubtedly an art form.
Big chains like Pizza Hut, Little Caesars, and KFC have all gotten in on the action, right alongside their mom-and-pop pizzeria counterparts. Whether it's a fast-food concoction that incorporates a base of fried chicken, one that involves an infusion of unusual substances, or an expensive culinary stunt topped with gold foil, here's are 12 of the most controversial, unexpected, and bizarre pizzas to grace the earth (and our taste buds).
The go big or go home slice
The Super Slice hails from Yonkers, New York pizzeria Pizza Barn, and it's a major, major undertaking. (See: children for scale.) At about two feet long, it's one of the world's biggest slices, and flavors range from basic cheese to a full-on cheeseburger-and-fries-bedecked "mondo-slice." There's also a mac-and-cheese slice, because clearly the motto for this place is "go big or go home." Slices start at $10 a pop. Because they feed multiple people, though, that sounds like a deal.
The $500 tequila-lobster pizza
This one's decadent. Featuring lobster, Osetra caviar, black truffle shavings, avocado, mango, and edible platinum flakes, the $500 pizza (available upon request at New York City restaurant Bodega Negra) gets its hefty price tag and claim to fame thanks especially to the inclusion of three shots of top-shelf Patrón tequilas to the mix. Those tequilas sell at the upstairs nightclub for upwards of $100 per shot. And yes, consuming this pizza will give you a buzz.
The pizza box made out of pizza
Vinnie's Pizzeria in Brooklyn, NY, had the novel idea of turning the cardboard box into... more pizza. "No waste, as it is all 100% pizza and 100% delicious," the pizzeria wrote of their Pizza Box Pizza invention when it debuted in 2016. "No more pizza boxes cluttering up your fridge or trash." Instead, you get both the pie you ordered and a ton of bonus pizza, like a pizza inception.
According to the site: "All precautions are taken to make sure that the PBP is delivered in a completely sanitary manner." (Their other unusual menu item is a slice topped with mini-slices, called the Pizza on Pizza pie, of course.)
The $2,000 gold-leaf pizza
For very big spenders, the pizza order of choice can be found in New York's Financial District. At $2,000, a restaurant called Industry Kitchen serves a version that's topped with English Stilton cheese, French foie gras and truffles, the all-important Ossetra caviar, and 24-karat gold leaf all across the top for a very glittery and opulent presentation, brought to life by chef Braulio Bunay. The not-so-humble pie drew criticism for its ingredients.
The Cadbury Creme Egg pizza
For dessert lovers, the over-the-top Cadbury Creme Egg pizza might be just the ticket. You can find it at Crazy Pedro's, a pizza parlor (and dive bar) in Manchester, England. They call it the "I Am The ResurrEGGtion," and it's a 10-inch pie "covered with chocolate sauce, sprinkled with marshmallows, brownie, meringue and topped with a soft creme egg," as the restaurant's Instagram explained when they launched the menu item around Easter in 2016.
The pizza with the likeness of the Pope
Pizza art may not be quite as popular as, say, cupcake art—but that didn't deter some creative pizza-makers at New York City's Bleecker Street Pizza from illustrating a pizza with none other than the likeness of his holiness Pope Francis during his papal visit to New York in 2015.
The ingredients themselves are mostly normal: the blessed pie had a mozzarella and tomato base, and was adorned with anchovies, peppers, and cucumber. The papal figure's skin tone, however, was illustrated with a somewhat odd mix of ricotta cheese and raspberries, and controversial pineapple was used to get the yellow color of his hat. The chef did tell local news it took about five hours to make one—and that they wouldn't be making more, despite offers of $1,000, as TIME previously reported.
"We're not artists," store manager Tony Salihaj told TIME. "We're just pizza people."
The hot-dog-crusted pizza
In a whole new take on "meat lovers'" flavor, Pizza Hut unveiled in 2015 a form of pizza crust that's actually just a ring of pigs-in-a-blanket. Mini hot dogs on a pizza? If you can dream it, Pizza Hut will probably make it in their crusts; garlic knots, breadsticks, and cheese sticks have also featured over the years. Although the pigs-in-a-blanket version is no longer currently available—a spokesperson for Pizza Hut confirmed that it was a limited-time-only menu item—it still looms large in memory.
The bacon-wrapped pizza
Not to be outdone, Little Caesars stepped up with their bacon-wrapped-crust deep dish pizza. It's exactly what it sounds like: a deep dish pizza (or, in Little Caesars parlance, a "Bacon Wrapped Crust DEEP!DEEP! Dish pizza) shrouded in a crispy layer of pork. This was, of course, during the peak bacon fad of 2015.
The pot pizza
A Vancouver, B.C. restaurant serves up cannabis-infused delicacies that will presumably satisfy cravings even as it gets customers, well, high. Mega iLL dishes out pies with a potential topping of weed oil drizzle, if you're up for it. Sticking to the safe side, customers at the Canadian eatery have to prove they're 18 and show a medical marijuana card for the added kick to their meal, of course. The pizzeria serves up regular, non-medicated pies as well—although that perhaps defeats the purpose of a visit to this forward-thinking locale, which seems ready to capitalize on the edible greenery trend.
The pineapple overload pizza
It was the pizza tweet heard 'round the world: one internet rabble-rouser kicked off a polarizing debate on the merits of pineapple pizza, which has even bled into the political realm, with the image of this questionable delicacy overloaded with cubes of pineapple. While pineapple on pizza is pretty normal for most menus, this volume of the tropical topping raised eyebrows even further. And the passions that it incited are proof that even regular flavors can have a powerful social impact.
The fried-chicken-crust pizza
They call it the "Chizza," and it's KFC's contribution to this particular genre of weird pizza mashups. This innovation was pioneered in India, the Philippines, Japan, and other parts of Asia before making its way to European KFC counters, as spotted on Twitter. According to a spokesperson for KFC, there are currently no plans to introduce it in the U.S., though, so Americans seeking a fried-chicken-and-tomato-sauce fix might just have to stick to that old standby: chicken parm.
The taco pizza
At New Jersey's Tony Baloney's, the taco pizza — apparently inspired by the request of a group of customers — is served every Tuesday for the hefty fee of $80 a pie, or $10 a slice. But it's a stacked slice: the pizza base of crust, carne asada chipotle sauce, and Oaxacan queso is topped with a number of varieties of tacos, with generous dollops of guacamole and sour cream in the middle.