In the time-honored tradition of Arizona newsrooms, Phoenix New Times took advantage of the recent heatwave to experiment with outdoor cooking techniques.
This time up: Can you cook a frozen pizza just by leaving it in the parking lot long enough?
We purchased a Signature Select cheese pizza (on sale now for $3.99 at Safeway!) and placed it on some aluminum foil in an empty parking space a little before 1 p.m., just as the temperature reached 113 degrees.
Twenty-five minutes later, the temperature had risen to 116 degrees and the pizza was fully thawed. The cheese had yet to melt, however — it just looked sort of sweaty.
By 2 p.m., the National Weather Service announced that the temperature at Sky Harbor International Airport had hit 118 degrees. We went back outside to check the pizza and found that the cheese was melting nicely and the crust had started to puff up. Around this time, a bunch of Canadian journalists started excitedly announcing to their followers that a newspaper in Arizona was cooking a pizza in the parking lot.
At 3 p.m., Phoenix reached its highest temperatures of the day, clocking in at 119 degrees, just three degrees short of the all-time record. The cheese was fully melted, but the crust still looked doughy and felt soft to the touch.
Half an hour later, we decided to call it a day. Surprisingly, a few people were willing to try a slice of the parking lot-basked pizza, despite the fact that it had been marinating in car exhaust for several hours by that point.
The overall consensus? Not bad. Here's what our reviewers had to say:
"It's got enough crisp on the edge, but not in the middle. It reminds me of a gas station breadstick."
"It's not as poisonous as I expected. I'm not tasting the pollution."
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"If you eat just the cheese, it's really good."
"It would be good if it was fully cooked. It's not fully cooked. But it's...progressing."
"Still better than like half of the fully cooked frozen pizzas I've had in my life."
While we were standing outside in the blazing hot parking lot, we also decided to dump a 10-pound bag of ice on the sidewalk and see how long it would take to melt. Unfortunately, our phones all overheated and shut down a minute later, so we still don't have an answer to that question.