When this reporter first came across the music of the Time Life Pizza Collection (or just Pizza Collection for short) at the behest of my editor, the assumption was that the hundreds of pizza-centric songs found on their SoundCloud page were parodies of their own creation. I was mistaken.
“Pizza songs have been around since the 1930s -- Glenn Miller’s ‘In the Mood (For Pizza)’ was the first one, which a lot of people don’t know is a pizza song because it has no lyrics,” says Sam Wachs, one of the curators/band members behind the Pizza Collection.
He and his partner, Will Drinker, have spent years collecting every pizza song they can find, mining the depths of pop-music history for odes to 'za. The Philadelphia-based partners began posting their findings -- which "span all genres, decades, and toppings" -- online in 2014.
“Some actually say that the first Pizza song was Walt Disney’s ‘It’s A Small Pizza After All,” which was the basis for the first ride at Disneyland,” Drinker says. He notes that the ride and song eventually morphed into "It’s a Small World" since, “It was so dangerous, because there was so much pizza, and they were focused on the pizza and not on safety.”
In reality, the Pizza Collection consists of Wachs and Drinker performing pizza-themed covers of hit songs. Their work includes the Beatles’ classic “Pizza Eggs” (TPC's joking cover of “Yesterday") and Michael Jackson’s stirring plea for equal treatment of all pizza sauces, “Red or White." The reimagined tracks are presented online as spoofs of Time Life's enduring infomercials that hawk compilation CD box sets.
The Pizza Collection will play two rare shows in the Twin Cities this weekend. On Friday, the pair will close out the evening at Pizza Camp, their first-ever appearance at the annual function in Maple Plain for Minnesota’s most die-hard pizza lovers. “We feel a true affinity with the attendees of Pizza Camp,” Wachs says. Surely the campers, if anyone, will appreciate the historical importance of the TPC’s tireless work.
On Saturday, they will appear at the Uptown VFW’s Pizza Dance Party, which, like Pizza Camp, is part of the Minneapolis Pizza Club’s Pizza Week. During their live shows, TPC only plays roughly 30-second snippets of the songs. In classic Time Life fashion, that's part of enticing potential consumers, but it's also just practical.
“Three minutes of the same pizza song is a little too much,” Drinker says. “The only thing we finish is pizza."
If you can’t make it to either of the shows but would like to support Wachs and Drinker’s important work, fear not. The Time Life Pizza Collection is available for purchase in its entirety ... sort of.
“Just get an old burlap sack and throw few hundred bucks inside and write our name on the front," Wachs instructs. "Toss it in the river and it’ll get to us sometime as soon as we get your payment, we’ll send the entire collection to you. Free shipping.”
Featuring: Pizza, beer, snacks, canoeing, hiking, and the musical stylings of the Pizza Collection.
When: 4:30 p.m. Fri., Sept. 16, to noon Sat., Sept. 17
Where: Baker Near-Wilderness Settlement, 4001 County Rd. 24, Maple Plain, Minnesota.
Tickets: $99; more info here.