Cites Galore

Delivery people at various Domino's pizza outlets in and around Washington claim that they have learned to anticipate big news baking at the White House or the Pentagon by the upsurge in takeout orders. Phones usually start ringing some 72 hours before an official announcement. "We know," says one pizza runner. "Absolutely. Pentagon orders doubled up the night before the Panama attack; same thing happened before the Grenada invasion." Last Wednesday, he adds, "we got a lot of orders, starting around midnight. We figured something was up." This time the news arrived quickly: Iraq's surprise invasion of Kuwait.

"And Bomb the Anchovies", Time, p. 13, 8/13/90

Note the claims by "pizza runners". I assume that Time took the trouble to interview someone other than local pizza tycoon Frank Meeks.

Amid the tightened security are signs of longer-than-usual workdays - offices still lit at midnight, for example. And then, of course, there are the less-traditional indicators of a changed climate, such as the pizza index. Frank Meeks, who owns 45 Domino's pizza stores in the Washington area, reports a bonanza in the number of pizza deliveries to key federal buildings since the war broke out.

"At the White House, we used to deliver 50 a day. Now it's 125," he says. "The big increase is late at night. We used to deliver nothing (there) after about 9 or 10, but now we've had to keep on extra people to handle late night at the White House."

The State Department's usual pizza order has doubled, he says, and the Pentagon's has "dramatically increased. Normally it's about 50 a day, and now it's about 300, with much of the increase late at night."


When I spoke with Cyrus Krohn, he claimed that Domino's pizza was not prefered by the daytime staff which typically went for more upscale foods and restaurants nearby. Is this a case of Mr. Meeks blowing his own horn?

Another thing I find interesting about this cite is the mention of late night lights burning at federal buildings. As a bit of Cold War trivia, I recall a KGB officer who defected during Andropov's reign. The officer was stationed at the Soviet embassy in London. Soviet officials alarmed by Reagan's confrontations convinced themselves that NATO was preparing to attack. Some of the intelligenct he collected was the number of lights on late at night in Whitehall and Britain's blood stockpiles collected through the Red Cross. I can't recall the defector's name but he may have been the guy who defected and then re-defected back to the Soviet Union.

The previous record for Pentagon deliveries came the night President Ferdinand Marcos and his wife fled the Philippines, according to Meeks.

"Crusty D.C. Veteran Says War is Near", Chicago Tribune, 1/16/91

Mr. Meeks is at it again. Mr. Meeks did not make his pizza prognostications known before or after Panama, Grenada, or the Marcos ouster as far as I was able to determine.

The one-night record for late-night deliveries at the CIA--21
pizzas--was set Aug. 1, the night before Iraq invaded Kuwait, Meeks said.
However, deliveries after 10 p.m. have dropped since Jan. 9, when they
reached 15.

"That certainly doesn't indicate that we're not keeping busy," CIA
spokesman Mark Mansfield said. "I want to make clear that we're working
very hard here."

"SLICE OF LIFE: PIZZA ORDERS SOAR IN D.C.", Los Angeles Times, 1/16/91

Mr. Meeks is in with the CIA. Note that the CIA spokesman does not deny that Domino's Pizza delivers to Langely but that just may be the CIA sowing disinformation.

Frank Meeks, owner of 43 Domino's shops in the D.C. area told the AP that during the week before the war started, late-night deliveries to the Pentagon increased from three to 101. Between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. on the eve of the conflict, 55 pizzas went to the White House, breaking all records.

Meeks said he has sales data for the invasions of Panama and Grenada, the toppling of Ferdinand Marcos, and confrontations in the Middle East proving that when the going gets tough in the nerve center of a democracy, the tough get pizza.

"PIZZA POLITICS", Susan Trausch, Boston Globe, 8/30/91

Mr. Meeks cites some slightly different figures for pizza deliveries, though these figures are specifically for late night deliveries.

Nobody Knows Like Domino's: Net.rumor has it that Domino's Pizza in Washington DC always knows when the military brass is gearing up for action. The tip-off: a sudden surge of late-night orders from the Pentagon. Too bad McDonald's doesn't deliver.

Wired, July/August 1993

If Wired is so damn hip, why are they two years late with this story? You don't have to fact check when you say it's from "net.rumor".

These findings are reported in the 4th annual Pizza Meter, a year in review based on Domino's sales data and a survey of more than 200 of the firm's delivery drivers.

Prognostication by pizzas first gained national attention during the Reagan administration when Domino's franchises noted that late-night orders to the White House, CIA, Pentagon and other institutions greatly increased on the eves of international crises.

"DOMINO EFFECT: GLIMPSE OF D.C. UPPER CRUST", Cox News Service (appearing in the Roanoke Times), 12/24/93

I couldn't find a cite of the Pizza Meter prior to 1990. This casts some doubt on the claim of a "4th annual" pizza meter. Nor was there "national attention" paid the pizza meter during the Reagan administration that I could find. Could this be an example of Domino's HQ trying to capitalize on Frank Meeks' success?

McIntyre emphasized that the 9-year-old Pizza Meter is not facetious. It's based on interviews of 500 deliverers nationwide.

"It is very loosely scientific," McIntyre said.

Researchers at Domino's Ann Arbor, Mich., headquarters asked questions such as, "Did you deliver to anyone who answered the door in their underwear this year? Please identify theh underwear." (That's how Domino's found out that the majority of underwear-clad orderers wear Calvin Klein briefs.)

Domino's came up with the idea during the Reagan administration.

"We were noticing a trend in Washington, that pizza orders to the White House, Pentagon and FBI would spike one or two days before elections and international political events," McIntyre said. "The Gulf War was big."

Another dramatic spike came 15 minutes prior to the afternoon verdict reading in the O.J. Simpson trial. The surge ended abruptly at 1 p.m. -- the precise monent at which a court clerk proclaimed innocence for the football hero accused of murder.

"We could barely believe it," McIntyre said, "but not a single pizza was ordered was ordered in the United States for five minutes between 1 o'clock and 1:05."


Yea, right. Domino's HQ is after a little free ink like Frank Meeks.

The age of the Pizza Meter seems a little suspect. The article from the Roanoke Times cited the "4th annual" Pizza Meter which would date it to 1989. This article claims the Pizza Meter is nine years old, dating it to 1985. Again, I have to note that I found no mention of the Pizza Meter prior to 1990. The O.J. angle to the Pizza Meter is clever.

Take the Pentagon, for example. The nearest restaurants are at the Pentagon City shopping mall, which is about a 10-minute walk and two security checks from the building.


Military personnel, who probably lost any sort of discriminating palate long ago were less critical. One military type who did not want to be named said, "I like it [Pentagon cafeteria food], but then I'm a poor judge because I like all food."


The Pentagon has two cafeterias-one serves fast food, the other more traditional fish, poultry and beef entrees. It also has five smaller 24-hour snack bars.


But ARA [the government contractor providing food services in the Pentagon] must be doing something right. Of the roughly 21,000 Pentagon employees, ARA gets 18,000 to 19,000 customers daily. Sure, the nearest restaurants are farther away than most government buildings, but workers could always bring a lunch and usually don't.


This may explain the claimed popularity of Domino's pizza at the Pentagon.

Driving to work this morning there was an interesting story on the radio. It seems the Domino's Pizza joint closest to the Pentagon can accurately predict when a major operation is about to take place. Evidently the planning meetings go on long into the night, and the best place to get food is Domino's. They interviewed someone from Domino's and he said that prior to the Panama invasion deliveries to the Pentagon jumped 25%. I'm glad I'm not in security.....

Jim Harkins < jharkins@sagpd1.UUCP > at

It is worth noting in closing the proof of one very low-tech approach to garnering military intelligence by traffic analysis: in 1991 the news reported on "pizza intelligence" - the observation that Pentagon orders from the local Dominos pizzeria shot through the roof in the hours after the decisions to deploy US forces to Greneda, Panama and the Persian Gulf were made! As more information is bought and sold - and it is hardly a stretch to imagine that pizza company's traffic statistics used both internally and sold to others who could benefit from the demographic data - more such relationships will be exposed, to anyone who cares (and pays) to look.

Ross Alan Stapleton, "CFP'93 - Three Perspectives on the Information Technologies and National Security: War Fighting, Diplomacy and Intellicence",

Earlier this year we reported that Domino's Pizza claims it can predict when the government is about to undertake some sort of major activity based upon the increase in pizza deliveries to the Pentagon and the White House. Pizza orders increased substantially just prior to troop deployments to Grenada, Panama, and the Middle East.

According to The Washington Times of August 21, 1991, during the early hours of the abortive Kremlin coup in August, Domino's "Pizza Meter" registered 102 deliveries to the Pentagon, breaking the Gulf War record by one; the White House ordered 52 pizzas, breaking its Gulf War record by seven.

The CIA, by contrast, learned its OPSEC lesson: There were only two orders, and they were quickly cancelled.

Rising D.C. Pizza Index indicates war

WASHINGTON - The pizza index indicates military action is imminent in the gulf, a Domino's delivery official said today.

Record numbers of late-night pizza deliveries have been made to the White House, Pentagon and State Department, said Frank Meeks, owner of several Washington-area Domino's outlets. Similar patterns came immediately before the invasions of Panama and Grenada, he said.

The record for late-night deliveries to CIA headquarters came the night before Iraq invaded Kuwait last August, Meeks said.

(from our local newspaper, who got it "from Star-Bulletin news services")

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