Friday, August 7, 2015

Wildwood Pizza Tour 9 hits the Boardwalk tonight

As hard as it is to believe, it's been nearly a decade since our friends at the Wildwood Pizza Tour began their annual one-night quest to find the best slice on the Boardwalk.

The tradition continues tonight around 7 p.m., when Chris, Brian, Mike, Frank and Tim begin sampling pies from over 20 establishments, starting this year from the south end of the promenade.

(Follow the tour LIVE on Twitter at

"It's really crazy that a simple idea we had on the beach in 2005 has evolved into nearly a decade of annual pizza eating marathons," said Chris Martin, founder of the WPT.

"It's also crazy to think about just how much pizza we've eaten over the years!"

In true grassroots fashion, Martin and the gang took their idea and have ran with it. What began as a fun night amongst a group of friends has become a yearly event with an ever-growing following.

With increased awareness and interest in the results, the WPT started a website a few years back and have established a strong presence via social media - Facebook, Twitter & YouTube.

"Each year has gotten better, from adding new metrics ("such as determining the "best value slice") to capturing the night on video, to posting updates of the event in real time on Twitter," said Martin.

"We always have fun and are always trying to kick it up a notch."

Recently, we had the opportunity to discuss some of the intricacies of the event with the participants...

Wildwood 365: The time is upon us once again. One of the things we love about the Wildwood Pizza Tour is how much fun you guys clearly have each year.

Chris: The tour is like being with four of your best friends on a four-hour marathon. It really is challenge of endurance, even after all these years of experience. Nonetheless, it's always fun and often hilarious along the way. Even as our lives and situations have evolved, everyone finds a way to gather for that first Friday in August for the tour.

365: Over 20 pizzerias in four hours. How exactly do you, um, "train" for this?

Chris: Good cardio is essential to build up both endurance and hunger for the tour. I suggest some jogging and small meals leading up to it.

Frank: Paddle ball on the beach and a high carb diet all week leading up to the tour.

365: Is there a recovery period afterward? Can you look at a slice of pizza the next day?

Chris: The morning after the tour, the walk to present the winning pizzeria with their best slice plaque is the best means for a quick post-pizza-tour recovery. By the time we make it to the pizzeria, we might be ready for a slice of the winning pizza. But for the most part, we are usually on a day or two of pizza detox. After that, normal pizza cravings resume.

365: What have you learned from your experiences with the tour over the past eight years?

Chris: Overall, doing the tour has given a real appreciation of the unique pizza landscape in Wildwood. For instance, where else can you find so many pizzerias in a 2 mile line? For many people, wildwood pizza is a tradition with very strong pizza shop loyalties. It's really fascinating how strongly we identify with our favorite pizzeria and how we form those loyalties. In some cases, you might go to a pizzeria because it's the closest one to your hotel. In other cases, it's a family tradition dating back to the 1950's.

Tim: The Pizza Tour totally changes how you look at the sauce, cheese and crust of a slice. Even off the tour, you start thinking about the various flavors of a slice and even how that slice might rate if it were on the tour.

Brian: With the increased awareness of the Pizza Tour, there has been a greater amount of responsibility for the tour to be as unbiased as possible in rating every slice.

365: What has been the reception to the tour, from both followers and local businesses?

Chris: Overall, reception to the tour has been very good and it's all in good fun. We like being able to promote - and eat - the delicious pizza that Wildwood has to offer. It's amazing how strong the loyalties and preferences are for a particular pizzeria. Many people are excited to see the results of the tour and where their favorite pizzeria ranks. Mack's and Sam's pizza are popular for a reason, but through the tour, we've discovered that there are other pizzerias that make a good slice in Wildwood. It's really cool to us when people will try a new pizzeria because it ranked well on the tour. Further, we're very active and talk about Wildwood with our friends and followers on social media all year round.

365: The interactive aspect is really cool. We really enjoy following along live on Twitter each year.

Chris: We started posting to Twitter during the tour a couple years ago and it was a great success. We thought it would be a great way to share the experience of the tour and a good use of technology.

365: How do you manage all of the multi-tasking?

Chris: Over the years, we've accrued an incredibly helpful crew of friends and family who join us during tour night to help with collecting the reviewer's ratings, filming the night and posting to social media. Two of these tour friends, Jim and Megan, take over the social media channels for the night and do a great job converting the live experience of the tour into a social media experience with pictures, videos, quotes and more - all in real time.

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