Since I am about to blow the whistle on a dangerous food product, I will give the protagonist of this true story a Smart Ass Cripple alias. I’ll call him Joe DiMaggio.
Joe DiMaggio is blind and the father of two boys, ages 6 and 8. One day recently, Joe DiMaggio was preparing to make dinner for them. So he set the oven on 450 degrees and took a frozen pizza from Home Run Inn out of the freezer. He placed the pizza on the rack inside the hot oven. But about 15 minutes later, the smoke detector was blaring and black smoke billowed from the oven.
Joe DiMaggio says, "There was literally a grease fire in the bottom of the oven."
That happened because Joe DiMaggio put the pizza on the rack upside down and the cheese dripped down onto the coils on the bottom of the oven and ignited.
Joe DiMaggio thinks Home Run Inn is "the best” frozen pizza. But this was the third time he'd placed one in the oven upside down and a fire ensued. And every time it was a plain cheese pizza.
It’s hard for a blind person to tell which side is which on a Home Run Inn plain cheese pizza because the cheese is smooth. On other frozen pizzas, Joe DiMaggio says, the cheese is in shreds so that provides a reliable, Braille-like clue as to which side the toppings are on.
The same is true, Joe DiMaggio says, of Home Run Inn pizzas with additional bumpy toppings like pepperoni or veggies. "I've never put a sausage one in upside down,” he says.
The other problem is that Home Run Inn frozen pizzas don’t come with the customary cardboard disc that provides an additional indicator of which side is the bottom.
And Joe DiMaggio isn’t the only blind person having this problem. He also has a brother who is blind, whom I will call Dom DiMaggio. And Dom has also put Home Run Inn cheese pizzas in the oven upside down.
So I called the Home Run Inn headquarters and I ended up with a pleasant customer service agent named Michelle. I told her about the plight of Joe and Dom. She acknowledged that the cheese on Home Run Inn pizzas is smooth because the pizzas are baked before they are frozen. She also said that no cardboard discs are included because the cardboard absorbs moisture from the pizza and makes the crust brittle.
Thus, Michelle said, even sighted people have reported putting cheese pizzas in the oven upside down because it’s also hard to tell top from bottom visually. Michelle said she tells people there are tiny ventilation holes on the bottom of the pizza that look like the crust was stabbed several times with a fork. If you see them, you know that’s the bottom. Michelle said she hopes Joe Dom and other blind people can find the holes by feeling for them. “I'm sure their sense of touch is much more acute than yours and mine," she said.
"I've thought about giving it a quick lick," he says.