People from across the world have donated to provide free pizza to protesting Wisconsinites
By Meredith Shiner / Politico / February 20, 2011
MADISON, Wis. — Someone in Egypt has been paying attention to what’s happening in Madison and wanted to send a message of solidarity from across the globe — so they ordered a pizza.
It might seem like a small gesture, but it’s overwhelming to the staff at Ian’s on State Street — a campus staple mere blocks from the Capitol — where in the last few days, they’ve fielded calls from concerned citizens of 12 countries, and 38 out of 50 states looking to donate money to provide free pizza to the Wisconsinites who have congregated here.
On Saturday alone, Ian’s gave away 1,057 free slices in their store and delivered more than 300 pizzas to the Capitol itself.
By 2 p.m. local time Sunday, they’d given away 351 slices and sent countless other full pies to the rotunda, where protesters have been gathering since well before noon. As a few locals stood waiting for their slices, an Ian’s staffer went to the chalkboard hanging behind the register and wrote, “Turkey” in big block letters and co-workers expressed a sense of disbelief.
“I don’t think we started it,” said Ryan O’Connor, a sophomore at a local technical school who works the register at Ian’s. “We made a post to our Facebook page because of the volume of calls we already had been getting unprompted.”
O’Connor said Ian’s got its first call Thursday when a mother of a University of Wisconsin student called and offered to donate $200 to help feed the people her daughter told her had flooded the Capitol. Since then, the outpouring of money from all over the world has put the pizza-makers into overdrive.
The blackboard behind the counter lists the “countries donating” as “Korea, Finland, Egypt, Denmark, Australia, US, Canada, Germany, China, London, Netherlands, Turkey” and has the abbreviations for all 50 states listed below, with donating states circled. As of Sunday afternoon, 38 states had been marked as contributors.
The small pizza chain with locations in Madison and Chicago has been using Facebook and Twitter to take what started as one phone call and make it into an international movement. Saturday night, the State Street location was so overwhelmed by orders it had to cease its delivery operations. But employees still are finding time to update the restaurant’s social media pages to keep the pizza revolution going and share with the world their chalkboard progress.
“This is astounding!” Ian’s posted Saturday to twitter.
Tip of the hat to Barbara Cummings for providing the photo.