Thinking Outside the Pizza Box

Build teamwork one sweet success at a time with chocolate pizza.

By Christopher Novak                                                           

More teambuilding and training has been accomplished around pizza than any other food. Simple, tasty, and universal in appeal, pizza has been a staple of training sessions since instructors first learned the ultimate truth of training: Feed them, and they will come.

But pizza gets boring. People see the pizza boxes and groan—same old, same old.

But what if this time there were something else in that pizza box? What if participants got excited about what was under that lid? Training needs to be a total experience and nothing—not even food—should be overlooked for potential impact.

That’s right, for the trainer who wants something new, creative, and out of the box (pun intended), something that adds a “wow” factor to their session, another cold slice of pizza at break time is not going to cut it. Savvy trainers know they have to elevate, innovate, and satiate participants’ palates with a culinary twist that leaves them impressed, smiling, and in a good mood to learn. The right food at a training session is like a good musical score to a movie—it adds to the moment. But how do you hit just the right note?

Enter Chocolate Pizza

Yes, chocolate pizza. I am not talking cocoa-coated dough here but a sophisticated confection that that will keep participants coming back session after session. Chocolate has near-universal appeal, but make it gourmet-quality chocolate, and the experience is something people relish and remember.

What is chocolate pizza? Chocolate Pizza Company Inc. in Marcellus, NY, has been making this specialty for more than a generation. Featured on Food Network and ABC News, Chocolate Pizza Company creates tens of thousands of its signature namesake confections for individuals and businesses across the country. In 2011, the company transformed 65,000 pounds of chocolate into an array of sweet selections that it shipped to all 50 states and 20 countries.

“We take homemade English toffee and blend it with gourmet milk or dark chocolate,” explains owner Ryan Novak. “We pour that into rounds; top it with pecans, almonds, walnuts, and a white chocolate drizzle; seal it; and serve it in a genuine pizza box. The presentation surprises everyone.”

There are a dozen different varieties and toppings, but each one delivers the message that change can be good, that what sounds different—such as chocolate pizza—can, in fact, be something we embrace. In other words: Don’t judge the pizza by the box!

A large chocolate pizza runs 25 ounces and serves about 10 people, and while you can use a pizza cutter, the best way to share it is just have everyone break off pieces. It’s fun. It’s social. It keeps the group gathered during break. Plus, unlike traditional pizza that makes you lethargic after eating, chocolate pizza gives participants a little sugar boost. Choose a dark chocolate pizza, and there is even a nice health component to the snack since studies confirm the beneficial effects of dark chocolate on your heart, blood pressure, and immune system.

In today’s training environment, no detail is too small to ignore. Looking to add that little something extra to your session? Announce you are serving chocolate pizza at your next training event. Participants will cheer the originality of your choice, and you can take a bow for building teamwork one sweet success at a time.

Christopher Novak is an author, international speaker, and leadership trainer ( whose books include “Conquering Adversity,” “Lead Like a Pirate,” “Inspired to Lead,” and “Inspired to Succeed.” Born a chocoholic, he is a fan of Chocolate Pizza Company ( and a believer in the magic of blending learning with chocolate.

Lorri Freifeld
Lorri Freifeld is the editor/publisher of Training magazine. She writes on a number of topics, including talent management, training technology, and leadership development. She spearheads two awards programs: the Training APEX Awards and Emerging Training Leaders. A writer/editor for the last 30 years, she has held editing positions at a variety of publications and holds a Master’s degree in journalism from New York University.