As PMQ celebrates its 20th anniversary, we honor the past and look forward to the future in this special oral history.
PMQ’s founders and longtime team members reflect on two decades of progress, pranks, pitfalls and pizza.
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Tracy: When Liz took over at PMQ, she enacted plenty of changes, one of which was the addition of Time Capsule (now Pizza Hall of Fame), a column where we celebrate historic pizzerias (50 years or older) on the last page. I was put in charge of the column and have been writing it since it premiered in the January 2008 issue. This soon became my favorite part of the job; I'm a sucker for anything retro and loved the old pictures and stories of these hardworking people and families. When industry insiders like Scott Wiener and Tony Muia tell you that's the first page they flip to, it's really flattering, but what's even better is when the profiled families themselves thank you for telling their incredible stories and even hang the stories in their pizzerias. It's so rewarding to honor them and make PMQ a small part of their hard-earned histories.
Linda: Over the years, we had gone from a quarterly to six issues. When we grew to 40,000 circulation, I was really proud. Then to eight issues, and in 2008, nine issues a year. The industry was doing so well, but the economy wasn’t. We were worried, but we knew pizza was the backbone—people may cut out fancy steak and lobster but would continue to eat pizza. So we went to 10 times a year in 2010. We took a leap of faith, and it was well-embraced. The recession was a scary time, but we didn’t have to lay anybody off. We cut back in other areas, dug in and worked really hard. We knew we were part of a great industry, and we knew the economy would rise and fall. America’s a great country, and we felt very fortunate.
Sherlyn: In 2008, we had a presidential debate here in Oxford, and Steve decided to put up his giant inflatable pizza a week or so before the debate—no permits, permission, anything. Security was top-level, and someone from security detail called and said, “Take down the pizza or we’ll take it down for you.” It became a threat to national security. If I hadn’t answered that call, the pizza would’ve been flat the next day.
Tom: From when we started until now, I think the core of PMQ is still there: How does a regular guy make it? What makes it night and day are all the things you can do—put the magazine online, have working links, add video. Back then, from design to printer, it’d take eight to 10 days; now, it’s the next day. The quality of the magazine is a lot better.