CBD-Infused Pizza: Why Restaurants are Serving Up a Special Slice

CBD pizza

By Corinne Watson

Several years ago, you’d be hard pressed to find someone outside of the hemp industry that knew about CBD.

Now, the extract is used by people in all walks of life — and even their pets. Known to the scientific community as cannabidiol, CBD is one of over 100 identified cannabinoids in cannabis plants. In early 2018, clinical research around the oil revealed that it may have several medical benefits.

Hailed as a cure for a number of ailments from muscle aches to anxiety, CBD has blown into popularity in just the past several years.

CBD on Google Trends

This graph shows Google searches for the term “CBD” over time.

With its growing usage across the globe, more and more people are starting to use CBD in their day-to-day lives — and restaurants are picking up on the trend. Because of this, CBD is now finding a way into our favorite foods — including the ever-popular Italian-grown, American-loved staple: Pizza.

Now a handful of pizza shops across the USA provide CBD as an add-on to their normal menu, and this trend is going to grow more as the popularity behind CBD continues to rise.

In this article, we’ll dive into what makes pizza + CBD so special — and where you can get your hands on a tasty slice.

CBD + Pizza May Be A Match Made In Heaven

Why CBD + pizza? Because it’s trendy, and because it may be healthy.

Over the past several years, more and more pizza restaurants across the United States have added a CBD-infused variety to their menu.

For some pizzerias, it makes sense because of the added potential health benefits that CBD offers to customers.

“I truly believe in innovative forms of treating pain and mood disorders.” said Spinelli’s owner Christopher Palma in an interview with CannabisMD.

For others, it makes sense competitively. Hailed as one of the Top 2019 Food Trends, Forbes analysis say that outside of any potential health benefits, CBD pizza is a way for pizzerias to capture health-conscious consumers and generate buzz around their menu. “We are seeing a lot of drinks, foods, pain relief products and skin care that use CBD as an ingredient and there is widespread belief that CBD is beneficial in all these products,” says contributor Richard Kestenbaum in a piece.

Whichever way you slice it, both CBD and pizza are rising in popularity and consumption.

CBD — A Growing Market (Pun Intended)

CBD consumer sales are posed to hit $16 billion by 2025, a new study has found. That’s more than the 2018 ice cream and popcorn combined.

CBD products are especially popular in the pizza-loving generation of Gen Z. In an April 2019 Bloomberg survey, more than 11% of Gen Z respondents reporting regularly consuming product containing CBD.

CBD Trends

The overall usage of CBD is a bit lower when it comes to other generations — but it is on the rise. Nearly 7 percent of Americans are already using cannabidiol (CBD).

The reasoning behind the growing popularity of CBD is attributed to many things — some of which aren’t always positive.

  1. Stress and anxiety run rampant amongst the younger population, who also are becoming less interested in prescription medications and are seeking an alternative, safer option.
  2. CBD is seen as a direct alternative to cannabis, which faces issues around legality and is considered more of a mind-altering substance.
  3. The allure and mystery around CBD make it somewhat of a modern-day snake oil.

But at the end of the day, many consumers find real value in adding CBD to their supplement routine. With users claiming calming and relaxing effects, CBD has shown to be helpful for people on opposite sides of a spectrum: those who use marijuana but do not want a mind-altering experience opt for CBD as a lower-intensity alternative, and those who don’t use marijuana but are still interested in the value of hemp products.

Pizza — a Fast Favorite For Many

Pizza has remained a longtime favorite for many American families, and despite the countrywide move towards health-consciousness and low-carb diets, products like cauliflower crust and dairy-free cheese make it easier than ever for hungry people to indulge — regardless of their dietary restrictions.

US pizza restaurant sales were about 45.73 billion U.S. dollars in 2018, according to a survey by PMQ Pizza Magazine.

pizza restaurant sales in the USA

One in eight Americans eat pizza on any given day — and for good reason: it’s fast, delicious, and inexpensive enough to enjoy as a group.

What started out as a quick and cheap bite for factory workers in the early 1900s5 cents per pizza — has now turned into a delicacy in some settings. For example, New York City’s Industry Kitchen offers a $250 per slice pizza topped with foie gras, truffles, and caviar.

““It is the epitome of decadence. The pizza is extremely rich if you’re in a mood for a lavish meal, this is the pizza for you,” says Braulio Bunay, the restaurant’s head chef.

When you think about it, adding CBD to pizza isn’t that outlandish of an idea, especially compared to these other peculiar pies:

Burger crust pizza from Pizza Hut (2,880 calories per slice)

Burger Crust

Source

Durian pizza, also from Pizza Hut (in China)

Durian pizza

Source

Thanksgiving Dinner pizza (featuring lots of leftovers) from The Pizza Joint in El Paso, Texas

Thanksgiving Dinner pizza

Source

Is Adding CBD To Pizza Legal?

It depends, especially on where your pizza shop is.

The legality of CBD oil is somewhat complex and varies by state and composition — in general, when it is legal, it must contain less than 0.3% THC.

In December of 2018, hemp cultivation was legalized nationwide as a provision of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018. But shortly after, the FDA spoke out and made some clarifications — specifically, a statement about their stance on CBD’s legality: The FDA does not recognize a distinction between cannabis- and hemp-derived CBD and, for the time being, considers both to be illegal—especially as a questionably safe food additive.

Regarding the legality of marijuana, every state is different. Medical marijuana is currently legal in 33 states, and recreational use is legal in 10 states and Washington, DC.

If you’re a restauranteur planning on adding CBD to your menu, make sure you follow a few quick guidelines:

  • Stay away from making written claims around the benefits of CBD.
  • Be sure to source from a reputable supplier to make sure that the concentration and quality of the CBD matches your customer’s expectations.
  • As always, consider consulting with legal council around adding any THC-containing oil to your menu items.

Restaurants Serving CBD Pizza

Across the United States, a number of pizza restaurants have recently announced CBD pizza as a menu item. While some of them are a limited-time-only feature, some restaurants have made it a permanent addition to their regular pies.

Explore the list below to see where you can get your hands on a slice.

1. Spinelli’s Pizzeria, Tempe, Arizona.

In February 2019, the owner of Spinelli’s Pizza announced that customers could now add CBD oil to a number of their menu items, including pizza.

Spinelli’s Pizzeria CBD pizza

Image via Robin S. on Yelp

““I truly believe in innovative forms of treating pain and mood disorders, and I’m so proud we’re the first bar and restaurant in the area to offer CBD extract to our guests,” Spinelli’s owner Christopher Palma said in a statement.

Details:

420 S. Mill Ave, Tempe. 602-800-5300. spinellispizzeria.com. Hours: 11 a.m.-5 a.m. daily.

2. Mint Cafe, Tempe, Arizona.

Located inside the Mint Dispensary — one of the largest dispensaries in the country — the Mint Cafe serves up both THC and CBD-infused bites, including tacos, burgers, and pizza.

Mint Cafe CBD pizza

Image via AZCentral

Details:

5210 S. Priest Dr. http://themintdispensary.com/. Inside The Mint Dispensary Tempe. Hours: 8am-9pm daily.

3. Pizza City, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

This shop is bringing new meaning to the term “secret sauce” — at Pizza City, the special CBD pizza marinara sauce is infused with cannabinoid oil.

Pizza City CBD pizza

Image via Jennifer A on Yelp

Details:

1509 E Las Olas Blvd, Fort Lauderdale. (954) 523-1313. pizzacityitalian.com/. Hours:

Mon – Thurs: 05:00 PM – 11:00 PM

Fri & Sat: 11:00 AM – 12:00 AM

Sunday: 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM

4. The Pizza Plant, Pasadena, California.

100% vegan pizza restaurant The Pizza Plant announced in February 2019 that diners would have the option to drizzle CBD-infused olive oil on top of their plant-based pizza for an extra healthy kick.

I wanted to create a pizza that paid homage to California’s passion and advocacy for the health benefits of CBD and THC,” Marvin V. Acuna, founder of The Pizza Plant, told VegNews.

The CBD pizza is also available in their moving pizza truck location.

The Pizza Plant CBD pizza

Image via The Pizza Plant

Details:

55 S Madison Ave, Pasadena. (424) 341-1969. Fri-Saturday 5-9pm.

http://www.thepizzaplant.com/index.html

5. Cannibble – online & everywhere.

An Israel-based cannabis startup, Cannibble, recently completed their first successful crowdfunding round and hopes to bring CBD to the distributable food market with a brick-and-mortar factory in the US.

Cannibble CBD pizza

Image via Cannibble.

Conclusion

Lombardi’s, a small, nestled-away joint on Spring Street in Lower Manhattan, New York, marks its claim to fame as the first pizzeria in the US.

first pizzeria in the US

Peter Regas’ scan/New York Public Library, source

A lot of things were different back in 1905, when Gennaro Lombardi first received his business license and opened up shop.

  1. The Wright Brothers were just about to launch on the first controlled flight in an aircraft.
  2. We still hadn’t reached the North Pole.
  3. People thought that miniature, handheld pet horses would be a thing.

But one thing was true: Marijuana was still legal. In fact — it was used in the majority of medications and tinctures available to the public. In the late 19th century, Americans and Europeans could buy cannabis extracts in pharmacies and doctors’ offices to help with just about any ailment — stomach aches, migraines, inflammation, insomnia, etc.  

At the time, it was known formally as cannabis — the term “maihuana” was brought in right after the Mexican Revolution, as an influx of immigrants moved into America.

Cannabis wasn’t outlawed until the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, so it’s more than likely that the same people who were slicing up pies at the time were also benefiting from the use of the substance.

Some things in life are always cyclical:

  1. The planet turns around the sun.
  2. The clock hands strike 12 twice.
  3. A flipped slice of pizza always lands cheese-side up.

Maybe CBD pizza is simply pizza returning back to its natural state at the beginning of the 20th century: combined rightfully with legal cannabinoids, simpler times, and a little crushed pepper on top.