When you think pizza, you rarely think McDonald’s. But for locals in Spencer, West Virginia, the McPizza was “the best.” And for customers hundred of miles away, the novelty made the golden arches fast food restaurant there a road trip-worthy destination.
But no more.
The McPizza entered this world in the late 1980s, in an attempt to offer customers a dinner option. However, its lengthy preparation time caused it to nearly vanish in the 1990s, with the exception of two locations — Pomeroy, Ohio and Spencer, West Virginia.
“I liked theirs better than I did Pizza Hut or the other places,” said Florence Bishop, who regularly purchased a personal deluxe with extra sausage. “The crust didn’t have as much oil in it and it wasn’t greasy.”
Bishop enjoyed her last McPizza on Aug. 29.
“The manager told me ‘When we run out of the crust, that’s going to be the last of the pizzas,’” Bishop said. “It shocked me.”
The Spencer location sold its last McPizza on Aug. 30, and posted a letter in the store the next day announcing the pizza would no longer be served.
“This decision was made by McDonalds Corporate office, not your local staff,” it read, leaving customers with little explanation and a lot of disappointment.
“Our menu is always changing, and we will no longer be serving pizza at our locations,” a statement from the company read. “However, we continue to offer a wide variety of items for our customers to try and enjoy.”
Emily Myers Duke, a spokesperson for McDonalds Tristate, which includes both Pomeroy and Spencer, said it was a simple matter. Corporate had chosen to discontinue the product.
“A lot of people have been sad that we can’t continue it anymore, but happy that we were able to keep it at these locations for so long,” Duke said. “Our crews and our managers have really loved serving it to people because it’s a unique product that no one else has.”
The uniqueness of the product inspired viral Internet videos and stories, and motivated many to make the road trip. Signs at the McDonald’s in Pomeroy and Spencer recorded how far customers would travel, many from hundreds and thousands of miles away.
The final two McPizzas went to two Canadian men who were completely unaware of the novelty’s near-end upon their arrival.
Tristan Christoffersen and Chris Hogan of Vancouver, British Columbia, were visiting Ohio to ride roller coasters and had a craving for an item which to one of them was a nostalgic delicacy.
“I remember going to McDonald’s with my Mom on Friday nights after my basketball games as a treat and having it when I was about 7 or 8,” Christoffersen said.
After all those years, he said, the pizza tasted just the same, allowing him to live out his childhood, bite by bite.
“The actual taste was good; much better than a frozen pizza,” Christoffersen said. “It had like a cornmeal crust, which was thick and crunchy. The topping was good quality and the cheese and sauce especially was what brought back all those nostalgic memories.”
At first, the two were informed the pizzas were “gone forever.” Then, “the franchise owner said something like, ‘There’s two left, and I think these gentlemen deserve it!’” Christoffersen said.
It was a sentimental moment for the duo, and one they will never forget.
“It was so wild seeing the news reporters when we walked in,” Christoffersen said. “We immediately figured out they were doing a story about the McPizza, but had no idea it was the last day.”
Reporters and news cameras gathered around to record each mouthful the two took — the demise of a long-cherished guilty pleasure.
These may have been the only McPizzas left in the tristate area, but they are not the last in the world.
Only one other McDonald’s location in the U.S. claims to selling the special menu item, but there’s no guarantee it will taste just like the original.
The country’s largest McDonald’s, located in Orlando, Florida, serves a variety of options in addition to its traditional hamburgers and fries, including a brunch menu, pasta and — yes — custom pizza made in a brick oven. It started selling the cheesy specialty in 2016.
Of course, the trip will cost locals a much further drive, but it might be good news for more well-known pizza places in the Spencer and Pomeroy areas. For McPizza fans? Not so much.
“It’s really upsetting,” said Marcie Chaney of Spencer. “Guess we’ll have to go to Pizza Hut or somewhere where they have pizza.”
Upon discovering their favorite food would never be served again, her kids chose chicken nuggets for dinner. Except for her son, Lucas, who refused to eat anything else at the establishment while he was there.
One day, the McPizza will only be a distant childhood memory for him.