In the 1960s, CBS creative director Lou Dorfsman designed the monumental Gastrotypographicalassemblage, a 35 ft × 8.5 ft wall installation completed in 1966 for the cafeteria of the CBS Building on 52nd Street in Manhattan. The installation celebrates the culinary arts, spelling out food-related words in hand-milled wood typography and lettering. It was removed from CBS in the 1990s but recently was restored and reinstalled at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Not surprisingly, the installation features a wonderfully lettered “Pizza” section.
Earlier this year I commissioned Nick Fasciano to make a replica of the pizza section of the installation with its own casing. Nick is a designer and fabricator who worked on the original installation, rescued it from the trash when it was being removed from CBS, and was instrumental in its restoration and relocation. His replica was made using the same fabrication methods that were used for the original wall.
Nick finished the replica recently and I could not have asked for a better item to unwrap for the holidays.
Glyph map for the Symbojet font, showing the new Unicode "SLICE OF PIZZA" character
As some readers may have heard, pizza is not my only obsession. Among other things, I also have a strong affinity for typography and all things related. It was through this obsession that I discovered the following obscure topic of pizza relevance. Beware of high nerdery beyond this point.
Earlier this month, the Unicode Consortium published version 6.0.0 of their Unicode Standard – a computing standard that deals with character encoding and representation. I won’t get too far in to it, but the basic idea of Unicode is to enable people around the world to use computers in any language.
The release of Unicode 6.0 adds 2,088 characters, with over 1,000 new symbols, including the new Indian rupee symbol, and – most relevant to the topic of pizza – a set of symbols for use in text messaging. From the press release:
These emoji characters are in widespread use, especially in Japan, and have become an essential part of text messages there and elsewhere. Unicode 6.0 now provides for data interchange between different mobile vendors and across the internet. The symbols include symbols for many domains: maps and transport, phases of the moon, UI symbols (such as fast-forward) and many others…
Hidden among the plethora of new symbols is none other than a slice of pizza! This means that once the Unicode Standard 6.0 catches on, you can theoretically have a button on your keyboard for typing a pizza symbol.
Food-related symbols from the iPhone emoji keyboard. (Note: no pizza)
Those of you with iPhones may be familiar with the special emoji keyboard that allows you to type a variety of pre-made pictograms along with your normal text. The iPhone emoji includes many food-related icons (and even a smiling piece of poop … for real), but it doesn’t offer a slice of pizza – probably because it was intended for an Asian user-base where pizza is less prevalent than, say, rice or sushi. Even if the iPhone emoji did offer a slice of pizza, the symbols don’t currently relate to Unicode standards, so you would only be able to send it to other iOS users.
Luckily, the new Unicode 6.0 standard will enable previously-impossible advances in device-independent pizza-communication capabilities. Because, really, what kind of a world do we live in where you can’t text message a pizza pictogram to your non-iPhone-having friends?
Of course, such advances will require fonts or other software that actually include a pizza symbol that is properly mapped the the designated “SLICE OF PIZZA” codepoint (i.e. U+1F355). There are plenty of existing “dingbat” fonts that contain a pizza glyph (for example FF Dingbats), but the only one I know of so far that has a glyph properly mapped to the new Unicode codepoint is a recently-released font called Symbojet.
Hopefully more and more fonts will adopt the new pizza character over the coming months and years as Unicode 6.0 becomes more prevalent. When they do, a single character will enable you to type a slice in your tweets, e-mails, text messages, etc. Until that day, perhaps you can make due with my own emoticon-style shorthand for representing a slice of pizza (>