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Bite into National Pizza Day with super kooky pie innovations

For National Pizza Day, we've rounded up the most bizarre pizza gadgets and permutations around, from 3D-printed pizzas to shoes that order dinner.

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Amanda Kooser

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1 of 19 Pizza Hut

Pizza parka

National Pizza Day, which is not a federally recognized holiday in the US (but probably should be), rolls around on Feb. 9 each year. 

At heart, pizzas are pretty basic creations made from dough, sauce and toppings. But the humble pie has also been a springboard for oddball innovations and publicity stunts involving strange new designs, delivery methods and boxes.

Pizza Hut is proud of its heat-containing pizza delivery bags designed to keep your pie warm from the restaurant to your home. In a wonderfully weird publicity stunt from late 2017, the chain created a wearable jacket made from the same material

The Pizza Hut Parka uses three different kinds of insulating material, has a built-in napkin and specialized pockets for holding Parmesan cheese and pepper-flake packets.

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2 of 19 Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut Pie Top shoes

These aren't normal sneakers. Pizza Hut created the unusual Bluetooth-enabled shoes to let people order a pizza by pushing a built-in button on the tongue. They're like Marty McFly's Back to the Future high-tops, except you get a pizza and they don't lace themselves. And, yes, they're called "Pie Tops."

The Pie Tops came out in early 2017, and only 64 pairs were made. 

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3 of 19 KFC

What's a Chizza?

Never one to shy away from bizarre food creations, international chicken chain KFC both intrigued and grossed out the world with the introduction of the Chizza in late 2016.

A Chizza used a roundish chunk of fried chicken in place of a traditional crust. The toppings consisted of tomato sauce, cheese, pineapple, "chicken ham" and then a weird cheese sauce. 

"Each bite of the Chizza showed me regret does indeed have a taste," CNET's Rahil Bhagat said. The Chizza was available in Singapore for a limited time.

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4 of 19 NASA

Pizzas in space

The astronauts on board the International Space Station enjoy a good pizza party just as much as people on Earth. NASA sent up all the supplies for DIY space pizzas in late 2017.

The ISS residents took full advantage of the prepackaged crusts, squeeze bottle of pizza sauce, spreadable cheese wedges, olives and pepperoni. NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik dubbed the crew the "Intergalactic Pizza Devouring Squad."

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5 of 19 Katie Collins/CNET

Picnic's pizza-making robot

Robots can do lots of things, so we might as well let them make pizzas, too. Pizza-bot company Picnic demonstrated its automated pizza assembly system at CES 2020. It works on a conveyer system with a little help from humans putting the dough in place. The robot can be set up to dispense different toppings as needed. 

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6 of 19 Vinnie's Pizzeria

Pizza box made from pizza

Pizza boxes haven't seen many innovations over the years. Most are just clamshells made from cardboard. Vinnie's Pizzeria in Brooklyn decided that wasn't good enough and created this Inception-level pizza box... from actual pizza in 2016.

You can eat the pizza. You can eat the box. It's simply brilliant.

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7 of 19 Domino's Japan

Pizza delivery by "reindeer"

In late 2016, Domino's Japan proposed an absurd idea: pizza delivery by reindeer. It even went so far as to experiment with delivery concepts using actual reindeer and reindeer trainers. 

But ultimately, Domino's went with a group of scooters dressed up to look like reindeer instead. They're not nearly as temperamental. 

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8 of 19 Domino's Japan

Reindeer pizza delivery concept art

We know Domino's Japan never actually went through with its idea to deliver pizza using real reindeer, but we can still enjoy this amusing concept art that shows what the publicity stunt might have looked like. It's certainly cuter than a car. 

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9 of 19 Ry Crist/CNET

Waffle pizza? Waffle pizza

You don't even need an oven to whip up a pizza at home. CNET senior editor Ry Crist used a waffle maker round-up as an excuse to experiment with making unusual meals, including this waffle-pizza creation. Click here to get all the details on how to try it yourself.

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10 of 19 Digiorno

DiGiorno Meatless Supreme

With all the recent moves to bring plant-based meat substitutes into the mainstream (I'm looking at you, KFC), it might not seem like a big deal for frozen pizza brand DiGiorno to offer a meatless sausage supreme pie. But DiGiriorno came out with the vegetarian offering in 2019, showing that plant-based proteins had truly reached a wider audience.

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11 of 19 Ford

Self-driving pizza delivery

Since Domino's dream of reindeer pizza delivery didn't pan out, the company had to look for a higher-tech way of transporting pies. So the restaurant chain teamed up with Ford for a test run of delivery by way of self-driving cars.

Domino's and Ford experimented with the concept in a very limited delivery area in Michigan in mid-2017. Pizza recipients had to walk outside and enter a special code to access their meals. 

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12 of 19 Domino's

Car with a pizza warmer

Most pizza-delivery vehicles are just somebody's car. This 2015 Chevrolet Spark is a custom-fitted pizza delivery car created for Domino's. The Spark has its own pizza-warming oven. It also has custom storage built into the interior to hold everything from soda bottles to dipping sauces. Dubbed the DXP, this sporty little creature can hold up to 80 pizzas. 

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13 of 19 Domino's

Nuro/Domino's pizza delivery

It's been fascinating to trace the evolution of Domino's pizza delivery ideas. In 2021, the pizza joint got together with Nuro, a company that operates autonomous cars, for deliveries in Houston, Texas. The limited experiment only covered a small area, but it's a step forward in the push to deliver pizzas without any humans behind the wheel.

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14 of 19 Seth Rosenblatt/CNET

Ninja turtles pizza launcher

No cartoon characters are more connected with pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Pizza Hut teamed up with the fictional mutants to build a full-size pizza-throwing vehicle to show off at the San Diego Comic-Con International in 2014. 

The pizza thrower is based off a pickup truck and features a rotating turret, though it turns out that pizzas don't make for very good projectiles. 

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15 of 19 Pizza Hut UK

DJ with a pizza box

Pizza Hut UK thought pizza boxes were't getting enough love, so in 2016, it created a limited-edition box that doubled as a working digital turntable. The chain called it the "world's first playable DJ pizza box." Conductive ink helped make the box responsive to touch. It also came equipped with Bluetooth and an internal battery.

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16 of 19 Mike Curtain/Domino's

Pizza robot

Companies are finding creative ways to remove humans from the pizza-delivery chain. This prototype autonomous Domino's Robotic Unit from 2016 features a heated chamber for pizza and a cooled chamber for drinks. It gives a glimpse at what a more robotized future might look like.

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17 of 19 Domino's

Pizza by drone

Let's get past this whole idea that pizzas need to be delivered by way of ground transportation. This Domino's Robotic Unit, or DRU, delivered a pair of pizzas to a customer in New Zealand in 2016, showing that pizza pies can indeed fly to their destinations. 

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18 of 19 Natural Machines

Pizza in 3D

Natural Machines is a different kind of 3D-printing company that specializes in food. This photo collage shows the different stages of a 3D-printed pizza process as demonstrated by Natural Machines in 2013. While the spiral dough doesn't look much like a regular pizza, the end result certainly seems appetizing. Are you hungry yet?

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19 of 19 Lexy Savvides/CNET

Pizza vending machine

You can get candy bars, soda and chips from a vending machine, but it's a bit more ambitious when you get to something as complex as a fresh pizza. This Pizza Gio machine debuted in Australia in 2014. It bakes pizzas on demand.

The pizzas inside are partially pre-cooked so it doesn't take too long to finish the process and deliver them to hungry people.

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