Bloomberg looks at the pizza lobby:
For decades, pizza makers have relied on the food’s natural advantage: Everybody loves it. Some 41 million Americans — more than the population of California — eat a slice of pizza on any given day. If pizza were a country, its sales would put it in the top 100 of global gross domestic product. “Pizza is, without a doubt, the food of the gods,” says a 2014 video produced by the American Chemical Society that explains the chemistry behind pizza’s appeal. “All pizzas deliver divine, rich, cheesy, mouthwatering experiences that hustle your brain’s pleasure centers into overdrive.”Geez, Republicans sure are easily bought. But, considering today's guest at Congress, those Republicans sure do love them some pushy assholes especially if the target happens to be those uppity folks in the White House (emphasis for Republicans on White).
Until recently the U.S. government was inclined to agree. Pizza is such an efficient cheese-delivery vehicle that a farmer-funded promotional agency, authorized and overseen by the federal government, pushed fast-food chains to load up pizzas with more cheese. That effort led to Pizza Hut’s 2002 “Summer of Cheese” campaign and partially funded Domino’s 2009 introduction of its “American Legends” pizzas — pies topped with 40 percent more cheese. “These specialty pizzas are as American as apple pie,” Domino’s crowed, as part of its marketing campaign.
More recently, though, pizza has become a target, lumped into a nutritional axis of evil along with French fries and soda. New federal nutrition standards for school lunches, part of a 2010 law, squarely targeted pizza’s dominance in cafeterias. Menu-labeling rules, which take effect later this year, have seemed particularly onerous to pizzeria owners. And in the popular imagination, no less than First Lady Michelle Obama and Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio, though they claim to love the stuff, have emerged as enemies of pizza in their push for healthier school lunches. “I hear people say, ‘We would like to improve the school lunch program, but the kids, all they want to do is eat pizzas and burgers,’” Colicchio said in testimony to Congress in 2010. “We are adults here. It is up to us to do better.”
One by one, other purveyors of fast food have been convinced, nudged along by new laws or public shaming. McDonald’s, for example, voluntarily took soda out of Happy Meals and added calorie counts to its menus long before the government required it. Wendy’s also removed soda from its children’s menu, and Darden Restaurants reduced calories and sodium in kids’ meals at its restaurants, including Olive Garden and Red Lobster, and made vegetables and milk the default side options.
Pizza advocates have taken a different, more combative tack. They’ve separated themselves from other food groups in Washington to become their own lobbying force. They’re not throwing money around — pizza’s biggest spenders devoted less than $500,000 to lobbying last year and just $1.5 million in political contributions in the last two election cycles. But they have notched some successes, proving that under the right circumstances, firm resolve and a thin crust can still be persuasive in Congress.