Oklahoma: Home of the World’s Largest Pizza Party

Jonathan Buscher

At the Donald W. Reynolds Center of the University of Tulsa Campus, a new world record was recently achieved on January 21, 2023, right before a Tulsa-Tulane men’s basketball game at the stadium. This Guinness World Record was officially attained by Andolini’s pizza in conjunction with the World Pizza Champions, which brought in members and pizza experts internationally to attend the event. However, Mike Bausch, the owner of Andolini’s Pizza, noted that the accomplishment was really a testament to the strength of the Tulsa community, stating, “I like everyday people coming together to do something that’s special, that anyone can just walk in here today and leave a Guinness World Record holder and I think there’s something to be said about that,” in an interview with Fox 23 News. 

The record was previously held by Istituto Romano della Pizza in Rome, Italy, in 2019 which had 1,046 people in attendance at the celebration; yet, Andolini’s and the Tulsa fans decimated the record, with over three times the number of people counted at 3,357. Despite this, Andolini’s had to work hard to get to this point as, in the same interview, Bausch connected the victory to Tulsa, saying “We took a record that has failed three times this year, three times this year, in New York, in LA and Chicago it’s failed and we didn’t just beat it we tripled it and that is a testament to this city.”

Organizing such a large event took a large amount of time and planning as well, given the specific requirements of the challenge. Each person to be counted for the pizza party must have had two regular-sized pieces of pizza along with a bottle of water within the 15-minute increment allotted to them according to Michael Empric, the Guinness World Records judge in attendance. If one didn’t finish the pizza and water, they would remain uncounted for the record. In order to account for so much pizza, multiple Andolini’s Pizza locations teamed up to cook over 1,000 pizzas prior to the party, along with packaging and transporting them. This execution was only the conclusion of a full eight months of planning for the Guinness World Record attempt. 

The massive pizza party only had good reviews from the people that attended, as several news stations, including Fox 23 News, also interviewed participants. Some people were excited about the Guinness World Record, and felt special being a part of the event, as Charles Zitzow was. Others still were simply engrossed in the novelty of all the people and the excitement of the day, such as Heather Tirello. A few individuals took this enthusiasm to the extreme, as Ella Stegman mentioned that she “finished my slices in less than 60 seconds and I gulped down my water.”

Another cause of the excitement was that, as is the case for many other Guinness World Records, Andolini’s Pizza didn’t just break the record for the sake of doing so; money was raised and donated to charity. Over $40,000 was donated to the Make-A-Wish foundation and, according to Erin Nantois from the group, these funds will make a big difference. When asked about the significance of the pizza party, Nantois said that it aligned with the organization’s goals, remarking that, “our mission at Make-A-Wish is that together we create life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses and this is what together looks like, Tulsa came out and showed up today.” 

Bausch declared after the record was awarded to the World Pizza Champions that, if some other place ever took the largest pizza party from Tulsa, the community would return in numbers to win it back. From the evidence of this record attempt, it is likely that the University of Tulsa will hold this accomplishment for a while, especially given the leagues of hungry college students just waiting around for such an occasion.