Every year in Las Vegas, pizza acrobats from across the globe convene to compete in the star-studded World Pizza Games. A subset of the city’s annual Pizza Expo, the games showcase athletes, many of whom are also chefs, as they take dough to new heights. (There’s a similar competition—known as the World Pizza Championships—in Italy each year.)
In a video for Great Big Story, World Pizza Champion Tony Gemignani—who holds the record for most consecutive across-the-shoulder rolls of pizza dough in 30 seconds (he says he did “36 or 37” rolls)—pitched the sport like this: “Pizza acrobatics are tricks with pizza dough.” In the same way the Harlem Globetrotters perform elaborate maneuvers with basketballs, he said, pizza acrobats pull off similar moves with, well, dough.
The main difference is that the consistency of pizza dough is variable: it constantly morphs as you play with it, meaning that when contestants toss their pizza dough into the air, they won’t always know how it will look when it lands.
During the competition, the acrobats perform a variety of tricks for a small panel of judges. For two to three minutes, as a song plays in the background, they toss their dough into the air as they jump, spin, and do cartwheels.
Interestingly, the acrobats often don’t prepare for their performances using real pizza dough. They opt instead for the artificial ProDough, which lasts much longer than real pizza dough. Made from silicon and plastic, ProDough claims to emulate the texture and consistency of the real thing. It also glows in the dark.
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