DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) A former Quad Cities man turned freelance journalist for Vice News is going after a Quad Cities staple: Harris Pizza.
Peter Rugg wrote a lengthy article calling the pizza “trash” and “legendary terrible.”
“That truth hit home especially hard for me last month, as I sat alone in Harris Pizza in Rock Island, Illinois, gnawing on my first slice of Quad Cities–style pizza in twenty years,” Rugg wrote in the article. He said he hadn’t had the pizza in years.
“I’m always on the lookout for anything I think hasn’t been written about,” Rugg wrote in a Twitter message to TV6 anchor and reporter Chris Carter. “I saw Bon Appetite mag had a great essay a few years back about that writer loving and missing happy joes taco pizza and realized nobody had ever written about the QC’s other unique style. I think it’s sort of a relatable experience to revisit something you liked as a kid and realize it’s not all it could be.”
Known as “the original Quad City style pizza” Harris pizza was formed more than 50-years ago by Leonard and Mary Harris. There are five locations across the Quad Cities, including Bettendorf, Rock Island and Davenport. Ruggs’ 1,624-word article was published on May 16 and is picking up traction. Now – while it may seem Rugg is on a verbal tirade against the pizza, he says that was not his intent as all.
“To be clear I wasn’t trying to pick on Harris particularly but since they claim invention and have the trademark it seemed fair to use them,” he said. “There were a couple other restaurants I tried locally that the editor cut from the published draft.”
His pizza attack focused mainly on the way it is cut.
“See it once, and you’ll be able to pick it out of a pizza lineup for life. Instead of wedges, the pizza is sliced down the middle once, then in a series of strokes perpendicular to that first one, leaving each slice as skinny as a wrought-iron spike,” he wrote.
His attempt to eat the uniquely cut pizza was a challenge.
“I tried eating it with two hands first. You can’t bite the middle because then the bridge fails and you’ll palm yourself in the face if you try biting from the cheesy end,” he wrote in the Vice article. “The obvious move is to use cutlery, but the thing resisted cutting and all the knife did was mash the cheese into the crust and squirt sausage out along the sides.”
Response from the article has “been great,” according to Rugg. He said while the article was “done with love” not everyone is happy with it.
“There have been some people who tweeted at me not too please and I get it but others have tweeted at me thanking me for speaking out,” he said.
Rugg is back in Davenport through the summer. He said he doesn't have a favorite pizza.
"Happy Joes is pretty great for local styles," he said. "NYC is full of insanely good pizza, Pequods in Chicago is sick. And all of Italy, that’s a whole different ballgame."
TV6 did reach out to Harris Pizza for comment, but it was after business hours so we have not received a response.