Ever since we broke away from British imperial rule and declared ourselves a new nation, the people of the United Kingdom have been utterly fascinated by their erstwhile colonies. Just as we have stereotypes to encapsulate British life — Britons love tea, refuse to pronounce the letter “H” and are often employed as anachronistic chimney sweeps — they too have summed up American life in simple, glib terms. According to stereotypical British stereotypes, citizens of the United States are alternately morbidly obese and subsist entirely on a diet of fast food, or terrifyingly hyper-masculine and subsist on a diet of gun smoke and slain cattle rustlers.
We don’t know about you guys, but it’s been months since we last shot a bandit, so it’s safe to assume that the British view of we Americans is a bit skewed. Thankfully, a documentary commissioned by the UK version of PBS aims to explain the reality of American life to those still living under Queen Elizabeth’s eternal rule — and that series’ look at pizza delivery in New York City is utterly fascinating.
The producer of this documentary strapped a GPS tracking system to a Domino’s pizza delivery man during a typical night on the town. It’s mesmerizing to watch the circuitous routes the delivery man takes as he drops off pizzas to the citizens of America’s most famous metropolis. Doubly so given that he’s doing all this travelling by bicycle. The end result of this visualization resembles something like a child’s scribbles or a particularly faulty spider’s web.
However, the documentary doesn’t get really good until they backtrack through the life of the pizza. By expanding the scope of the visualization, the clip below (which was discovered by the good people at BoingBoing) offers a clear picture of what goes into making that terrible, fast food pizza that Domino’s happily ferries to its customer’s doorsteps. From a Domino’s supply hub in Connecticut to the farms that grow the products that actually make up the pizza, the entire life cycle of the food is examined and it’s far more immense than one would imagine.
Then again, delivery pizza is the sort of thing that we all take for granted in 2012. Odds are solid that you’ve never once wondered about the origin of your deep dish pepperoni stuffed crust pie. As long as it’s hot and cheap, you’re happy right? Yet when the entire logistical chain of putting a pizza together is laid out in a simple, straightforward manner (as in this visualization), it makes one realize how miraculous this thing’s creation and delivery actually is. Given the amount of shipping necessary to put together a pizza, it’s impressive how little effort the average person has to go through to have one brought by his or her house, and it’s certainly not the kind of thing that would have been possible even 50 years ago.
Alternately, it’s an eerie look at how efficient the Domino’s supply chain has become. If you’ve ever wondered how the company is able to sell so many of their objectively terrible food items to millions of people every year, here’s your answer: Dominoes has the entire process down to an art of modern engineering, transportation and organization.
Also because of that thing about Americans being fat. The Brits aren’t entirely wrong about that one.