ESCANABA - Several years ago, "A Simple Man's Psychology" author Marvin Szukalowski drove home from Ontario through a blizzard. On the way back, he stopped in Iron River, Mich. for a pasty. And that, he said, is when inspiration struck.
"While eating my pasty, the only thing I could see through the window was a Hot-N-Ready Little Caesars sign," Szukalowski said.
Now, he's ready to share the result of that brainstorm with the wider world: a product called the "Pizzasty," which he unveiled at the U.P. State Fair this year.
Jordan Beck | Daily Press
Marvin Szukalowski prepares a pizzastyin his food wagon at the U,P, State Fair this week. He hopes to market the pizza-pasty combination to grocery stores.
Szukalowski said that the Pizzasty (pronounced "pizazz-sty") isn't just a pasty filled with tomato sauce. Instead, it's a pizza crust covered in gravy, cheese, carrots, beef, onions, hash-browned potatoes, and a secret blend of spices. After it's baked, it's sold by the "wedge" - the equivalent of two slices of pizza.
There's almost nothing else like it, but Szukalowski has said that people's reactions from the fair have been overwhelmingly positive.
"To tell you the truth, one kid had three full wedges yesterday," Szukalowski said. "And he's had two today."
Kaylyn Bernard, Szukalowski's assistant and step-daughter, said she was unsure what to think about the Pizzasty when she first heard about it.
"I was surprised, and I wasn't sure how it would go," Bernard said. "But I'm glad he invented it, because I love it."
Bernard said that one reason why the Pizzasty found so much success was the fact that it's entirely different from most "fair food" - and not just in terms of flavor.
"I think it's the smell," Bernard said. "It smells so good that it gives people the urge to want to taste it."
While the product is still in its infancy, Szukalowski said he's already heard a few nicknames for it. A group of Southern fairgoers referred to the product as a "portable pot roast," while Szukalowski has taken to calling it a "taste tornado."
So far, Pizzastys have been only been available for purchase at the U.P. State Fair and the U.P. Steam and Gas Show, but Szukalowski said he hopes to change that very soon. He's officially trademarked the concept, and is working with a food production facility in order to make the hybrid available on a larger scale. If all goes according to plan, Pizzastys will be available in the frozen foods section of local grocery stores as soon as this fall.
Szukalowski said that, at some point, he also hopes to look for a food broker (a liaison between himself and the food industry) and team up with a major food company to roll out the Pizzasty nationwide. While the Pizzasty's roots are firmly in the U.P., he's confident that the product will have universal appeal. "We've combined the two best foods in the world: pasties and pizza," Szukalowski said.