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David Lissner
for restaurants

Could you eat nothing but pizza for a month?

Tombstone pizza

Frozen TombStone pizza with sausage and pepperoni. “I live off this pizza,” Scharoff told the Tribune. “May not be the greatest tasting thing in the world, but I don't really care.”

UPDATE: After all, Scharoff didn’t eat pizza the day after winning his bet — being too stuffed from tailgating at the Bears game, and he didn’t profit from his winnings: In an act of generosity, the two men decided to donate the $2,000 stakes to the Northern Illinois Food Bank.

Congratulations, Pizza Boy!

Scharoff gets ready to knock back his second pizza at Prairie Grass Cafe. (Photo: Ron Kaplan, Chicago Tribune)

Craig Scharoff (Photo: Ron Kaplan, Chicago Tribune)

Could you eat nothing but sausage pizza for a month? Craig Scharoff did it. Sausage pizza for breakfast, sausage pizza for lunch, sausage pizza for dinner, sausage pizza for between-meal snacks.

The odd menu came about through a bet between the 41-year-old Northbrook pizza lover and Ron Kaplan, a noted Deerfield epicure. The two are partners in Greenwood Associates in Highland Park, a company that wholesales fruit-juice concentrates, purees and essential oils. Scharoff is director of sales, although he apparently doesn’t consume much fruit personally. “He told me he hasn’t had an apple in 5 years,” Kaplan reported.

“After professing his love for pizza and constantly bragging that he could eat it every day for the rest of his life, I challenged him to put his money where his mouth is, for one mere month,” Kaplan wrote on local foodie chat site LTH Forum, where he is a moderator. For an undisclosed “low four figure” amount, Kaplan bet Scharoff that he couldn’t eat sausage pizza for every meal in October. The terms: “The pizza must contain crust, sausage and cheese. All toppings, with the exception of lettuce on Taco Pizzas — yes, he loves them — and arugula and prosciutto — he has no idea what either of these are — must be cooked into the pizza. He cannot have dessert, chips or side dishes of any kind. No salads, no cereals, no slaw. Any significant caloric intake must be pizza.”

It was a sucker bet. Scharoff is a true pizza hustler. He’s as happy to eat frozen TombStone pizza as Chicago’s finest. By Day 5, when Scharoff was gleefully scarfing down Domino’s (about which Paul and Storm so famously sang, “When you’re done with your Domino’s Pizza / Eat the box, because it tastes the same”), Kaplan was already worried: “I’m beginning to think I might as well just write the check now. He’s clearly an ironman.”

It may have helped that he doused most of the pizzas with a generous dollop of hot sauce.

Scharoff shunned publicity, at first, and Kaplan did not name him online — he was quickly dubbed “Pizza Boy” — but three weeks into the bet, LTH Forum Moderator David Hammond was given the go-ahead to write the story for the Chicago Tribune.

At 4 a.m. on Nov. 1, Scharoff ate his first non-pizza food in a month: a bowl of his wife’s homemade wild rice soup. But, Slice reported, he meant to eat pizza for dinner last night.

Scharoff, who weighed 169.4 pounds before the contest, lost 6 pounds on his all-pizza diet, according to Slice. His month-long pizza regimen included a few out-of-town pizzerias patronized while traveling — he had pizzas delivered to his hotel room and brought to his table at a banquet! — and once he was treated to homemade pizza, but otherwise, you can follow his pizza odyssey through local and national chains, independent pizzerias and your grocer’s freezer case … if you dare.

The pizzas

Jake’s Pizza
California Pizza Kitchen (frozen)
Lou Malnati’s
Home Run Inn (frozen)
Seul’s Tavern
TombStone Pizza (frozen)
New York Slices
Prairie Grass Cafe
Gino’s East (frozen)
The Original Il-Forno Pizzeria
Piero’s Pizza
Pizza Hut
Homemade Pizza Co.
Pat’s Pizza
The Happ Inn
Judy’s Pizza
Ma Ma Louise’s Little Red Hen
Aurelio’s Pizza
Burt’s Place