- Telina Cuppari has collected 672 pizza-related items as she vies for a new Guinness World Record.
- Cuppari loves pizza so much, she filled her maternity room with pizza decor when she welcomed her second baby, Giacomo, into the world last July.
The world must look like a scary place to a baby, but pizza makes everything better. When newborn Giacomo Cuppari made his debut on July 22, he was welcomed into a hospital room arrayed with pizza-themed décor, courtesy of his mom, Telina Cuppari, a.k.a., “The Pizza Girl.”
Now Cuppari, a New Jersey publisher, editor, writer, educator and mother of two, is working on another major feat: securing a spot in the Guinness World Records for the Largest Collection of Pizza-Related Items on the planet.
Cuppari, who publishes TapintoKenilworth, a digital neighborhood news site for Kenilworth, New Jersey, has a vast and still-growing collection of pizza-related items—a total of 672—ranging from apparel and accessories to toys, games and more. “I have over 230 books just on pizza,” she tells PMQ. “I have a bunch of clothes ranging from newborn to adult and even outfits for the dogs and cats, plus tons of jewelry from all over the world, decorations, and over 200 items in the stationery category.”
“One of my favorites is a pizza swagger chain that spins,” Cuppari adds. “It is very ostentatious, and it is definitely a conversation starter. I also have an ‘I Love You More Than Pizza’ date night box with pizza-themed games and questions. My daughter is named Francesca, and there is even a pizza chef doll named Francesca that comes with her very own ‘Once Upon A Pizza’ story.”
Barring unexpected competition, Cuppari’s collection appears well-positioned to top the world record currently held by Brian Dwyer, cofounder of Pizza Brain in Philadelphia. It has been a labor of love that started in 2012 when she moved from California to New Jersey. “I love going out to eat pizza dressed as the Pizza Girl,” Cuppari said in a TapintoKennilworth article published December 30. “Most people think it’s fun, and you make a statement. And if I get strange looks, well that’s OK, too. You can’t please everyone, plus I have never had the best fashion sense.”
When it came time to deliver Giacomo, she recalled, “My hospital to-go bag was mainly pizza decorations, which I know is not the norm. However, during a very hard time I believe the pizza-themed room brought some joy to the employees. Nurses and various members of the staff would come in for a visit because they heard there was a pizza-themed room on the third floor.”
On October 3, Cuppari bolstered her collection by hosting Kenilworth’s first Pizza Palooza event featuring pizza-themed games for children and adults, music, gift certificate giveaways and food from local restaurants, including lots of pizza. The event was free, and attendees were asked to simply donate a pizza-related item to her collection.
Earning Guinness World Records certification requires a great deal of documentation. Every item has to be logged, photographed and shot on video in front of witnesses, including an expert in the subject, and detailed and verified statements have to be submitted. As her witnesses, Cuppari brought in Kenilworth Police Chief Fred Soos; Attilio Guarino, owner/pizza chef of Ava’s Kitchen & Bar; and Mike Hysa, owner of Big Apple Pizza.
Cuppari tells PMQ that her love for pizza “started at a very young age. We ate pizza so much in my house growing up that I remember giving the delivery man a Christmas present every year. Pizza, I also believe, is the one universal food that can bring people together from all different cultures. In some countries, pepperoni is more popular, and then there’s canned tuna, eggs and even bananas. However, wherever I have found myself in the world, pizza is a delicious meal that—no matter what language we speak or nationality we are—makes us happy.”
So which pizza shops make Cuppari happy? “There are so many great pizza places in New Jersey, so it really depends on what I am feeling,” she says. “If I’m going for more veggie, meat or just plain cheese, I have my spots. And no matter what pizza I am eating, I always love extra garlic. But I would say some of my favorites are Ava’s, Capri Pizza and Big Apple in Kenilworth and then Santillo’s in Elizabeth.”