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Who Pays $731 for a Pizza?

Under what circumstances would you be willing to pay $731 for a pizza?

If your answer has something to do with raising money for charity, then you are halfway right. But that’s not the interesting half.

Here are a few clues:

+ The pizza was sold at auction.

+ The bidding began at $0, and climbed fairly steadily to the winning bid of $731, with nearly 20 different bidders.

+ The auction lasted just over three days and concluded fairly recently.

+ The identity of the buyer isn’t important; it’s the circumstances of the purchase that are interesting.

Have you guessed it yet? I seriously doubt it. So here are a few more clues.

+ The auction concerned a pizza baked in Brooklyn.

+ The pizza in question was to be baked at a certain time … and was connected to a certain holiday.

Yes, that’s right: someone paid $731 for the rights to the first pizza baked after the Jewish festival of Passover.

During the eight-day festival of Passover (seven days in Israel), observant Jews don’t eat any chametz, a category of food that includes any fermented flour and which therefore comprises bread, cake — and, yes, pizza. (This prohibition commemorates the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt, when they didn’t have time to let their dough rise; this is why matzo is eaten during Passover.)

And so each year at Passover, many Jews rid their homes of all chametz. There are all sorts of side markets arising from this practice, including the “selling” of chametz to non-Jews, and the repurchase thereof. There has even been an effort to provide kosher-for-Passover gasoline, since corn is also considered chametz, and since corn-based ethanol has become a common ingredient in gas. [Addendum: the kosher gas story was apparently a pure spoof.]
Anyway: the $731 pizza was a different story. It represented the right to break the chametz fast with a fresh-baked pie from the renowned Pizza Time on Avenue J in Brooklyn.

(Hat tip: Jeff Stier)