We’re not exactly sure why Leslie Knope’s beau is so obsessed with calzones, but he sure doesn’t shy away from expressing his love, despite what his friends and colleagues may think. Celebrate #NationalCalzoneDay with your very own savory pastry, and take a look back through Ben Wyatt’s best calzone moments on Parks and Recreation.
While the Parks and Rec crew was brainstorming party food ideas for the Police Force shindig they were throwing, Ben, of course, suggests his all-time favorite — calzones. Lesley hated Ben’s suggestion and replied, “Calzones are like pizzas, but they’re harder to eat. They’re dumb, and so was that idea.”
This marks the first (of many) mentions of calzones in the series.
Ben, openly scared of cops, nervously doubles down on his love of calzones in front of Pawnee Police Chief Trumple, who responds with, “What the hell is wrong with this guy?”
Later in that same episode, Lesley continues to poke fun at Ben for his calzone obsession while suggesting places to grab a bite to eat after work.
Things take a quick turn after Ben jokingly replies that Lesley’s beating a dead horse with her calzone jokes, and she replies “Calzones are pointless. They’re just pizza that’s harder to eat. No one likes them. Good day, sir.” and storms out of her office. Luckily, she turns around with a smile and insists she was just kidding around.
After resigning from his position in order to continue his new relationship with Lesley, Ben is unemployed and finally has time to work on his hobbies: claymation and calzones. While Chris Traeger stops by for a visit, Ben’s in the kitchen learning how to make “‘cali-zoin-za,’ or as you Americans like to say, calzones.” And explains to Chris how pizza is old news and how calzones are the future.
When Chris tells Ben that he thinks calzones are “fatty and unnecessary,” Ben fills him in on his brilliant new idea for Italian fast, casual dining. Using low-fat ingredients for his dish, Ben suggests that he will name his new establishment the “The Low-Cal Calzone Zone.” Chris replies that it’s “the greatest idea I’ve ever heard in my life” and then quickly confesses to the camera “That idea is terrible.”
While planning for his wedding with Lesley, Ben is in charge of food for the event. He put together a “panel of experts” — Ron (meat expert), Chris (veggie expert), and Tom (foodie/food Instagramer) — to help taste test three of the best caterers in Pawnee. They end up split on which caterer is best, but Ben pulls rank and decides on the first caterer because he loved the appetizer, which was of course, a mini-calzone. But Ben wouldn’t call it that; he says, “It was more like a savory pastry. Delicate little dough pocket filled with tomato sauce, cheese, and seasoned meat. Just a stunning culinary innovation.” Chris and Ron respond to the camera confessional saying, “It was a calzone; it was literally just a small calzone.”
The next day at the office, Ron, Chris, and Ben get hit hard with food poisoning. When they find Tom unaffected, they wonder why he isn’t sick. Ben believes it’s because Tom only took photos and talked about the “wow factor” of his food, but Tom says that was untrue and that the only thing he didn’t eat was the “stupid mini-calzones.” Once Ben realizes that he has been betrayed by his beloved calzone, he swears that he’ll never eat one again.
Ben and Lesley make waves when they decline to participate in the “Pie-Mary,” a (misogynistic) southern Indiana traditional where congressional candidates’ wives compete in a pie-baking contest. In order to relieve some of the backlash from the press for their decision, Ben decides to enter the contest himself and realizes he can “change the idea of what a pie is” — and of course creates a dessert calzone.
Giddy with all the delicious possibilities that he can create with his dessert calzone, Ben dances into the kitchen, bounces an apple off the inside of his elbow, and begins his rendition of this Kenny Loggins classic.