The definitive ranking of every pizza topping known to man
Sometimes a momentous day will sneak up on us so quickly that there's barely time to prepare for it.
Instead, you need to mark the occasion in quiet contemplation, looking back on years past and focusing on the important things in life.
It's a chance to reflect on what you might do differently if given another chance, and what you can do in the future to make sure you're always living your best life.
That's right, Friday is National Pizza Day in the UK, and we're here to make sure you don't make the mistakes of yesteryear.
"How can you do that?" I hear you ask. "You're just one man."
Well, my friends, let me show you.
Thirty-one pizza toppings, ranked completely objectively from worst to best.
Photo: Ben Sutherland
Not only the worst pizza topping, but the worst foodstuff in general. Literally no redeeming qualities. If you order a pizza with sweetcorn on it then you're telling me "I'm a child with no tastebuds who probably laughs at 'The Big Bang Theory' and shouts 'Come on Tim' when watching Andy Murray play tennis".
30. Chopped Tomatoes
You've already got a tomato sauce base which, if done properly, is made with chopped tomatoes rather than coming out of a can/tube/all-purpose cylinder. You wouldn't top your burger with small bits of more burger.
Getting more than one of your five-a-day from pizza is like going to the gym because you like the coffee there. Next.
28. Chargrilled Chicken
If you're a meat-eater, this is way down on the list. The best toppings are well-seasoned and, generally speaking, have flavour. And by 'flavour', we don't mean 'scorch marks'.
27. Red Onion
Red onion is like the homegrown player in a Premier League squad. If it wasn't already there for free, you wouldn't go out of your way to add it to the mix at the expense of something more impactful.
The Maroon 5 of pizza toppings. Too inoffensive to hate, but no one would call it their favourite.
25. Doner Meat
Photo: Ali Utku Selen
Let's face it, if you're getting doner meat on a pizza then you're not ordering it for the taste. However, it stays off the bottom on the grounds that some of the best pizzas you've ever eaten were probably topped with the stuff.
23. Butternut Squash
A left-field choice, but left-field doesn't always mean good. Just ask Kieran Richardson.
It's fine. It does a job. It can be relied upon. But that's about the limit of it. Ham would throw you a rubber ring whereas more interesting meats would swim out to rescue you and bring you back to shore for a tasty pizza without any ham on it.
Far too hit-and-miss to include higher, mushrooms can be the star of the show, but they can also ruin your night. We can't in good faith include them in the top 20 after being stung so many times before.
Why don't more places include green olives - by far the superior of the fruit (yes, it's a fruit, we looked it up) - on pizzas. Italian restaurants will trust ol' green eyes as an appetiser but as soon as it's time for the main event they're not even allowed to be in the same room as you. What did green olives do to you, pizza chefs?
A solid ingredient, but one which needs other strong toppings alongside it to provide a good balance. It just doesn't offer enough on its own, which prevents a higher placing.
Don't get us wrong, the Fiorentina is a top-notch pizza, but you can't eat it with your hands and that's where it falls down. Still, the eggy centrepiece (God that's a horrible phrase. Too late to unsee it now, though) is so good on the kind of pizza you eat with a knife and fork that it cracks (geddit) the top 20.
17. Sun-dried Tomatoes
If you must add tomato to an already tomatoey pizza, this is the route you go down. A much richer flavour, and without the risk of a watery aftertaste - and one of the best veggie options out there.
16. Roasted Peppers
If you're getting peppers on your pizza, you generally want them to be spicy. More on this later.
15. Feta Cheese
Feta is a main event cheese, no doubt about it, but it can be overpowering on a pizza and leave you feeling bloated. We care about you, JOE readers, so we don't want to elevate feta above its station.
14. Spicy Beef
A mainstay that you often find yourself coming back to without really knowing why. A stalwart of the pre-set pizzas at many chains, it may just be inertia at work, and that's not always a bad thing.
A lesser-spotted topping, but if you're at a place that uses aubergine on its pizzas then you're at a good pizza place. Think back to your favourite veggie dish, aubergine parmigiana - what does it contain? That's right, mozzarella and tomato sauce. Say no more.
Flavour-wise, a good meatball is absolutely a winner. The only reason it features so low is the simple matter of awkwardness. Get the size wrong and you'll be left with a pizza bereft of its key ingredient, so we're balancing 'delicious meatball' with 'rising hunger as meatball falls on floor'. We've all been there.
Too unpredictable to command a higher slot. Best to stick with salami as a starter to get the full goodness of it, and save your pizza selections for The Top 10...
One spot higher than salami on the grounds that chorizo is Spanish and pizza is Italian, so you can call this fusion cooking.
A pizza without spice is...well, it's still a pizza, but it's missing something. Like a hotdog without mustard, a reuben without sauerkraut, a hot chocolate without sriracha (honestly, try it, you'll never look back). A worthy component of any 'za.
The name alone oozes class. Prosciutto. The written equivalent of a moustachioed chef kissing his fingers. They probably serve it on tiny plates at the San Siro as Silvio Berlusconi's hired goons brush pizza sauce off your lapels. A winner.
7. Goat's Cheese
Strong in more ways than one, it needs to be used in moderation but will hold its own alongside any other topping.
Photo: Steve Cavers
Most of us probably get 90% of our annual anchovy content from pizzas, and that's no bad thing. Our doctors are always telling us we need to eat more oily fish, but that might be to counteract all that dough and cheese we've been wolfing down.
5. Buffalo Mozzarella
Like regular mozzarella, but infinitely better. The Gary Neville to mozzarella's Phil. The Tom Hiddleston to mozzarella's Tom Huddlestone. This one's an absolute no-brainer.
4. Italian Sausage
We're not sure what makes Italian sausage tastier and more hearty than non-Italian sausage, but it finds a way. Probably an old family recipe - it normally is. It bridges the divide between being great on its own, great on a pizza and great as an accompaniment - the little sausage that could.
3. Roquito Peppers
Roquitos are sneaky fuckers, hiding there in plain sight. When did they find their way onto menus? No one can be sure. Have they always been there? No one knows. What we do know is they're delicious, that perfect blend of sweet and spicy - a perfect complement to any meat on the menu. This makes them our number one in the veggie column.
The original and best, right? If that's the case then why's there a big number two next to it, eh? Eh? Well, that's because - while pepperoni is the best topping on most menus, it's not the best on every menu. That honour goes to...
Photo: Alice Wiegand
If you've never tried nduja then you're either a) dead to me, b) trying it tonight or c) vegetarian. These three options are not mutually exclusive.
For the uninitiated, nduja is a spreadable sausage, which sounds like it could be terrible but is exactly the opposite. It's spicy, it's meaty, it's speaty? Micey? Probably not micey. Chuck it on a margherita, add it to a meat feast or just spoon it out of the jar and into your mouth. This isn't an article about pizza anymore, it's an ad for nduja.
Sorry about that. Not really, though.
National Pizza Day on Friday = 100 free pizzas from Papa John’s!
Head to the Papa John's Facebook page and leave a comment with your three favourite toppings to go on your pizza and the hashtag #PJWOW, and Papa John’s will pick 100 winners at random on Friday at 12pm. If you’re not in the lucky 100, dry your tears because you can put those toppings on a large pizza for just £9.99 thanks to #PJWOW!