Casey’s is not a gas station, a friend once said: It’s a pizza place that has amenities, and those amenities happen to include gasoline. Looking at it this way takes some of the shame out of gas-station pizza, a shame the chain seems to insist on by putting its slices on triangular plates that go into rectangular transparent bags that crinkle with grease as you walk them to the register, stand under rows and columns of cigarettes and dip and tell them that yes, one slice is all.
Don’t let that shame keep you from Casey’s pizza. It took me a year and a half—much too long—to first try the pie, and I can only wonder how much happier that year and a half would have been had I spent it nourished by Casey’s (slogan: “Famous for Pizza”) slices. Most of the slices have their merits, the chief one being the cheese: Casey’s makes a delightfully cheesy pizza, so cheesy you can barely taste the tomato sauce beneath (you’re not missing much), so cheesy that, if you’re unpracticed, the cheese can slide right off the cushy crust. But no problem: Just use a fork and a knife. Class things up a bit. There’s nothing quite like eating pizza from a bag on a sturdy plate with your grandparents’ silverware—trust me.
But there’s something to be said for eating the pizza off flimsy cardboard, roadside, too. The satisfaction increases the closer you are to bed, whether rising in the morning or turning in for the night. The first Casey’s slice I had was the chain’s “breakfast” variety, which comes topped with eggs and either bacon or sausage. It is, obviously, delicious. And what better way to start your day than at the gas station, greasy-handed?
This winter, Iowa City’s Dubuque St. Casey’s launched something miraculous: delivery service. No longer do you have to walk past the pumps, under the chain’s fake-brick-backed sign and through crowds of what you imagine to be judgy customers to get your delicious, salty slices. No longer do you have to decide whether you’ll get one or two or three—just get however many the pizza happens to be haphazardly sliced into that day.
Of course, if you prefer, you can still stroll down to the station to choose your slice, first watching it rotate slowly on a many-tiered carousel.
This article was originally published in Little Village issue 194