Possibly the best thing about pizza, though, is that kids are just as enthusiastic over cheap pizza as they are for expensive pizza. In fact, they often prefer the cheap pizza. Until just recently, my younger kids would generally choose Little Caesar's over anything else. Which, you know, is nice for the wallet. Not that we get pizza all that often, but, when we do, it is usually just for the kids (which has many causes but is frequently because there is something happening that will cause some kind of delay to dinner but they, my daughter especially, can't make it without something before the delayed dinner). Grabbing a couple of $5 pizzas is kind of a great thing.
And Little Caesar's is great for birthday parties and play dates and stuff. I mean, basically, every kid will eat either a Little Caesar's cheese or pepperoni pizza, but, if I get something more expensive, there are always kids that respond with "I don't like that kind of pizza," even if it's cheese or pepperoni.
So, see, cheap is good. It's... mass level pizza (it's good for the masses, see?). Even adults, who may not prefer it, are generally willing to eat it. Well, except my wife. She has standards. She won't go for anything less than Round Table. But I'll get to that in a moment.
It's been interesting to watch my kids develop, to watch their tastes mature. Here's a basic rundown of how it went:
- At some point, all of the kids preferred Little Caesar's. (So we'll call that the "lowest common denominator pizza.)
- My oldest is at that age where he will eat almost anything (I think I could squirt some ketchup onto cardboard and sprinkle it with cheese, and he would eat it); however, he prefers this place called Mombo's, which I think is awful (I'm pretty sure they do use cardboard for their crust which is why I think I could get that past my son).
- My younger boy still loves Little Caesar's (because, hey, it's pizza), but, when he gets to choose, he picks Papa Murphy's. (I'd call Murphy's a good mid-range pizza place. Their most expensive pizza is still cheaper than Round Table's cheapest (at an equivalent size).)
- My daughter has moved all the way up to preferring Round Table (but, then, she is our child that is most invested in food). If not Round Table, though, she prefers Little Caesar's, while the boys would both pick Papa Murphy's (because Mombo's, although not as expensive as Round Table, approaches Round Table and, well, no one other than the oldest will eat it).
- My wife eschews it all if it isn't at least Round Table (I say "at least" because my wife prefers an even more expensive pizza from a place called La Vera, which is not a place the kids like at all (my younger son mostly refusing to eat any of their pizza) and, although I will eat it (it's good, just not that good), I prefer Round Table.)
- For a short while, the family liked, as a group (including my wife), Papa John's (my daughter, especially, loved it for the stuffed crust and dipping sauces), but the owner guy started spouting off at the mouth, and we no longer support them.
But, see, if we're going to the mass appeal thing, I can't do something like serve Round Table at a kid-oriented birthday party for one of my kids (as opposed to the family-oriented party), because 1. it's too expensive 2. not all the kid guests will eat it.
Which brings me to my point, some books are very "Little Caesar's." They appeal to a broad spectrum of people and, although many people may not think it's the best, they'll eat it. [Of course, you have people like my wife who just won't and people like me who sometimes might but, later, will wish they hadn't.] It's low quality but easy and cheap. And you have books that are "Mombo's" or "La Vera's," which appeal to a much thinner spectrum of people but people who really love it. And there are "Papa Murphy's" books which are bit higher quality than Little Caesar's but require more work (you do have to cook it yourself) and some people just aren't interested in that kind of time investment. And, then, you have the "Round Table"s which most people will agree qualify as "good" books but not all people are willing to read (because, we'll say, of the intellectual investment; those are more complex). And, of course, you get the "Papa John's" which people boycott because the author is a complete gashole (which is the hole you use to put the gas in a car, see) no matter how good the product is (like the controversy surrounding Ender's Game).
Authors have to decide where on that spectrum they want to be. Cheap and easy with mass appeal or higher quality which places them out of the intellectual price range of some people. Maybe most people. Or, even, some niche market where the author may develop very loyal fans but there won't be very many of them. Or be so high concept that most people just won't care (sort of like Moby Dick). I say it's a choice because it's very rare that a Rowling will come along and present something that is both high quality and have mass appeal. Her further endeavors have shown just how rare a thing like Harry Potter is. Of course, sometimes, the author doesn't get to decide, because the author just isn't capable of writing anything other than the kind of thing that the author already writes (like, I think it pretty unlikely we will ever have any high quality, literary work from E. L. James (so, yeah, that's a judgment, but I think it's a safe one)).
Personally, I'd like to be Round Table. It's quality pizza but affordable enough that people can, at least, splurge on it for special occasions. It's not going to turn most people away other than kids that are still stuck on the blandest of cheap pizzas (like Little Caesar's and, from what I remember (though it's been years since I had one), Domino's). I realize that means that I'm not aiming for some blockbuster, mass appeal novel, but you know what? I'm okay with that. I want to be the pizza that people remember and wish they had more of, not the pizza that people settle for.
Now, speaking of pizza...
I think I'm hungry...
This post has been brought to you in part by Alex and the IWSG.