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Striking Controversy, Tommy's Cedes Seeds

Square pizza parlor switches to plain crust

Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?

Tommy’s can’t.

Tommy’s House of Pizza, previously billed by the The Unofficial Guide to Life at Harvard as the “home of the sesame seed edge,” has abandoned its distinctive crust in favor of a blander, more traditional plain dough.

The switch, completed nearly two weeks ago, came not as a result of customer dissatisfaction, but long-standing concerns over the time expended kneading the tiny seeds into the dough and cleaning the seeds off the floors and tabletops. According to counter workers at the popular eatery at 49 Mount Auburn St., the marginal improvements in taste attributable to the seeds failed to justify the added work.

“We spent so much time for preparation,” said Tommy’s employee Deep Singh, sprinkling cheese on his latest pie, sans seeds. “It was all about time. And then there was mess on the table, mess on the floor, mess in the oven.”

While from time to time the sesame seeds have disappeared from the crusts in the past, Tommy’s has always returned to its proven formula in the end. This time, Singh said, there will be no return to the previous recipe, thanks in large part to student apathy regarding the pizza’s new flavor and texture.

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“Most of the people—about 85 percent—[say] they don’t care about [the seeded crust],” Singh said. “They don’t notice at all. A couple of people asked about it, but then they said, ‘That’s okay,’ when we told them that we don’t want to keep it any more. They just say, ‘we don’t even care that much.’”

The move drew praise from Tommy’s primary competitor, Pinocchio’s Pizza & Subs at 74 Winthrop St.

“I didn’t know that they had seeds since I don’t look at any other place,” said Noch’s owner Rico DiCenso. “But I really admire them going about the business and taking a chance to see what they can do. You really don’t know until you try.”

Still, DiCenso scoffed at the idea that the redesigned slice would alter the balance of power between local pizzerias, citing his own extensive knowledge of the art of pizza preparation compared to that of Tommy’s.

“I think like other places around here they kind of look to us, to what we do,” DiCenso said. “We know our business, the pizza business inside out. My experience in 45 years is that the maybe eight other businesses that have been out there were just average or below average.”

Students were not so quick to condemn Tommy’s product as subpar, but generally confirmed that the crust change would likely not alter their allegiance.

“I like the seeds,” Eva Wang ’06 said. “But a couple of my friends don’t, so I usually go to Noch’s anyway. But I do like the seeds a lot.”

—Staff writer Timothy J. McGinn can be reached at mcginn@fas.harvard.edu.

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