The Ninja Turtles and Pizza: A Relationship Built on Pop Culture

Pizza is sure to be a part of anyone’s top ten lists of most favourite munchies. Whether it’s for dining-in or delivered straight to your home, pizza is never a bad idea. From the US to Singapore, takeaway pizza is becoming a weekly staple. Some offices, for example, declare Pizza Nights, wherein the employees are treated to boxes of pizza for a job well done. Today’s parties are also incomplete without pizza on the menu. Pizza has grown ubiquitous in nearly all countries.

The popularity of the pizza pie cannot be questioned, and we can credit this fame to its prevalence in popular culture, with it becoming a symbol of an era. Take, for instance, the pizza as a recurring image in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) franchise.

Turtles and Pizza—Does It Even Make Sense?


It’s easy to question verisimilitude, such as pizza-crazy humanoid Turtles adept in different forms of martial arts, like ninjitsu and karate, but hey—it’s a cartoon, and it came out during a pretty weird time. As children of the 80’s and early 90’s grew up with their eyes glued to the telly (during a time when animation was on the rise), the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise easily catapulted itself to become one of the era’s favourites. From the pages of comic books, Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo and Raphael made the successful transition to several batches of action figures and a handful of TV series. With TMNT expanding into a range of merchandise, which included lunchboxes, toothbrushes, clothing and several films throughout the years, the franchise grew to be a huge part of the mainstream.

As the Ninja Turtles franchise was well on its way to indoctrinating itself into 90’s pop culture, the four “Cowabunga”-yelling brothers, along with Master Splinter (their rat sensei), shaped the perception of many children—and this “shaping” included teaching this generation’s youth how to love pizza.

And while it doesn’t exactly make any sense as to how ninjas, turtles and pizza share an intense relationship, we can assume that this love for pizza traces itself to the team being teenagers living in New York. Truth be told, though, teenagers or not—who can dare say they hate pizza with a passion? Even with ham and pineapples, pizza is awesome.

All That Pepperoni, Cheese, Tomato and Bread: What Is There Not To Love?

Obviously, the most recognisable pizza flavour we can identify in pop culture is pepperoni. This can be attributed to the way the round cuts of pepperoni look on top of a slice, and how this image easily translates into what people can immediately identify as a pizza—the yellows and reds are colours known to excite one’s appetite. A slice dripping with melted cheese is sure to whet anyone’s appetite, and the Ninja Turtles are no exception to the pepperoni pizza’s charm.

In fact, Michelangelo is known to have claimed how peanut butter and clams, as toppings, is an acquired taste. The foursome, whose love for the dish is no secret to their forever-enemy, Shredder, has also been tried and tested—the evil Shredder has repeatedly tried to use pizza in an attempt to defeat the Ninja Turtles. This can only reinforce the idea that the franchise shaped how their audience grew up watching the value of pizza to our heroes, thus turning the dish into an icon of the 90’s.

If anything, here we are in the 21st century, with many pizza parlours coming out with their own flavours and themes, and whether or not people can tell that this is due to the TMNT franchise’s constant empowerment of the pizza pie, it really doesn’t matter. What bears significance is the history: that a couple of decades ago, we had the Ninja Turtles showing us what it meant to be cool. Pizza is never going to be out of fashion.

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