Philadelphia's Pizza Brain is the World's First Pizza Museum

Pizza Brain in Philadelphia, PA is the world's first pizza museum

The Guinness World Book of Records said it. The Philadelphia Inquirer said it. NPR said it. Time Magazine said it. CBS national news said it a few days ago. Philadelphia's Pizza Brain, the world's first pizza museum, has the largest collection of pizza memorabilia on the planet. To go with his status as a connoisseur of collectibles and pizza ephemera, Pizza Brain CEO Brian Dwyer (known to his friends as “Brain” for his long time fancy) also makes a great slice of good old-fashioned Boardwalk-style pie.

Fat Boys records with pizza photos
What started off as something silly for the drummer who was inspired by a Fat Boys album  in his recording studio (the rappers are carrying a pizza pie on its cover),  became an obsession when he co-directed a competitive eating documentary (2009’s Swallow Your Pride) and curated a themed art show of red gravy-and-cheese related work  (2010’s Give Pizza Chance).

Soon his apartment swelled with kitsch pizza stuff:  pizza-delivering Ken dolls, Mystic Pizza film posters from every country under the sun,  poseable "pizza cruncher" Noid toys from Domino's, a Ninja Turtle "pizza drop" machine, and over 200 45s and LPs. But instead of seeing it as merely camp, Dwyer saw in his collection the thread of popular culture for the last 100 years. "You get to watch this country change through an adopted food that wasn't American, yet got adapted and spat out in different visions of what it should be throughout different cities. It evolved," says Dwyer.

Vintage pizzeria photos
As his collection grew, the pizza man saw a need to create something akin to a hallowed home for his life’s work. To that end, Dwyer, a few friends and a real estate investor snagged several 19th century properties along Philadelphia's bourgeoning Frankford Avenue corridor, and with the help of a successful Kickstarter campaign, they developed and built the Pizza Brain museum. Complete with walls of vinyl recordings, loads of shelving and glass encased pizza totems, the gallery and pizzeria started serving up lines of fresh hot pizza for $3 a slice to continuous lines of people from noon until way beyond midnight on September 7, 2012. According to Dwyer and those who have hit up the Brain since its opening, the lines of pizza enthusiasts – gawking and eating – hasn’t subsided.

So what’s next for Pizza Brain? Last week Dwyer told CBS This Morning correspondent Michelle Miller that that he’s dying for a “Pizza the Hut” costume from Mel Brooks’ Star Wars satire, Spaceballs.

Pizza Brain has the largest collection of pizza memorabilia on the planet
Pizza Brain
2313 Frankford Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19125

Photos ©Christopher Allen Thomas 2012

Posted on Wednesday, September 26, 2012 1:25 PM