Growing up in suburban New Jersey, Scott Wiener recalls, “Pizza was the thing that made everyone in the house happy.”
Now, as a grown-up New Yorker, Wiener has made it his life’s mission to spread that joy to others, through his popular Scott’s Pizza Tours, and also to keep that happiness going for himself.
“I have about 700 slices a year. Probably upwards of 8,000 in the past 11 years.… I’ve definitely visited thousands of pizzerias in my life so far,” he tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “And I’m just getting started.”
Wiener makes his own pizza and collects plenty of related items — books, paraphernalia from pizzerias, pizza cutters and peels, and an incredible array of pizza boxes from around the world. That’s made him, as of 2015, the Guinness World Record holder for pizza-box collections — made up of 595 boxes at that time, and now up to 1,471.
“I have a fascination with pizza. It’s a fascination with the community, a passion for the food itself and for making it,” Wiener says. “Pizza is always a nostalgic food. The pizza you grow up with is always going to form the definition of what you love.”
Eventually, his love of the food grew into a career.
“I just started taking my friends on little excursions to famous pizzerias, and… my friends would tell me, ‘This is a real thing. You could do this for people you don’t know.’” Next thing Wiener knew, he was renting a school bus and piling a bunch of people on it, driving them around to all best pizzerias in NYC.
“I knew that I really loved pizza. I knew that I wanted to make a living doing something with pizza. A tour seemed like the right medium to express what I wanted to express about pizza to the world,” he recalls. “A live-action pizza show, basically, is what the idea was.”
He’s since been the subject of a full-length 2017 documentary, Scott’s Pizza Tours, taking a look at his bus and walking tours of the same name. They’re offered in Manhattan and Brooklyn and occasionally in other cities, on a pop-up basis, such as an upcoming one in Austin, Tex.
Wiener is also a columnist for Pizza Today Magazine and a contributor to PMQ’s Pizza Magazine and PizzaMarketplace.com. He’s become a go-to guy in various publications and TV shows and he has judged pizza competitions across the globe.
“Pizza was always a social activity,” he says. “To this day, that’s what I love about it. It’s simultaneously communal and independent, because you can be with a bunch of people eating pizza, but you’re eating it your own way.”
As for why the rest of the world is so smitten, “I think the reason pizza is so popular is that it’s adaptive. It can conform to any cuisine, to any cultural groove,” Wiener posits. “And that’s what makes it so special and what makes it this universal language.”
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