‘College town pizza,’ Lawrence, Kansas, 1992

To me, “college town pizza” (University of Kansas — Rock Chalk Jayhawk!) will always be Pizza Shuttle, Gumby’s (since closed), Papa Keno’s, and Rudy’s. (Pyramid was for folks in the Greek system.)

Rudy’s was as close to what J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, writing on Slice, describes as “college town pizza,” which he defines as pizza being over-topped and over-cheesed. Except that kids at KU tended to not overtop it — at least not those who I knew. Not because we were enlightened pizza purists looking to avoid a “garbage pie” but because it cost more. We were cheap bastards. Like most college kids. Hell, we’d rather spend our money on beer. (In my case, beer and pinball.)

Pizza Shuttle and Gumby’s were delivery and take-out only. I don’t know anyone who ever went to pick it up. If you owned a car, by the time you were in a state to actually crave Pizza Shuttle or Gumby’s, you had no business behind the wheel.

The pizza from both was essentially the same, with minor differences. Coke and Pepsi. Dr Pepper and Mr. Pibb. Both served one size only, a small 10-inch pizza that was mostly crust. A big, puffy, spongy crust with a fairly wide cornicione (not that you should EVER use the word cornicione in reference to this stuff).

No matter which one I ordered, I usually got mine topped with green peppers and sausage. Two toppings was livin’ large in the dorms. And the dorms were probably 80 percent of these guys’ business.

Gumby’s had the distinct advantage of printing “points” on its boxes. Cut out enough points (10 or 20, I can’t remember) and you’d get a free pizza.

I cut out my points religiously. But, WTF!?! A lot of kids in my dorm didn’t. How did I know this? Because I hit upon a scheme early on in my freshman year. At the end of each wing on each floor was the recycling room. Do you see where this is going?

Whenever I was hungry, I’d do a sweep of Hashinger Hall, keychain Swiss Army knife in hand, and cut out all the unclaimed Gumby Points. I didn’t always scrounge up enough on weeknights, but Fridays and Saturdays were a cardboard goldmine.

The pizzas at the time were about $3, if I recall correctly. Gumby Points subsidized many a 40-ouncer of Colt 45 ($2) and Addams Family. (“Hit Cousin It!”)

You know, I never did figure out why it was called Gumby’s. Must have been a reference to the crust.


A former pizza driver recalls his time working for Gumby’s »
The Ethics of Free Pizza »