MANILA -- Remember 3M Pizza? Yes, that brand of unpretentious, toasty pizza sold in kiosks around campuses and food court halls in the 1980s and 1990s.
Well, decades later, I had rediscovered the brand tucked away in its little corner along Balete Drive and Aurora Boulevard in New Manila, Quezon City. It turns out, it never really went away. It has been, from the time it was conceived in 1969, here all along.
3M Pizza stalls are still around. They are scattered in places from Luzon to Mindanao, even quietly growing in number following its resurgence in 2012 when the brand began franchising out.
Apparently, it survived under the radar after its usual fans like me had moved on from the cafeteria scene where it is usually found to the nicer pizzerias in a real restaurant setting.
Remembering it now, I admit that 3M Pizza had a special place in my heart. I don’t think it was because of the flavor (because let’s be honest, the pizza isn’t really anything spectacular), but because it was my first encounter of a pizza.
Back in the time when food choices were limited and in Marikina where I grew up, fast food chains were only gaining traction, 3M pizza was a happy, easy choice of snack. I guess one never truly forgets the first time. So when I found out that the chain still exists, I had to try it again.
My trip down memory lane wasn’t as romantic as I had envisioned it though. It’s visible the management tried its best to give the tiny space next to its headquarters and central commissary a modern look. There was some semblance of industrial interiors, but sadly, the ambiance inside the four-walled 3M pizza place in New Manila was unimpressive. But I guess it didn’t matter as much because back then, we were happy with takeout pizza anyway.
Studying the menu, I realized the classics were still there. But there was also an attempt to appeal to a new generation with the Pinoy flavor pizza varieties like Tinapa Flakes and Chorizo Filipino. And unlike the 1990s, new offerings like 3M Fritz fries and pasta are also now available.
As for me, I came for the classic ham and cheese pizza. And lo and behold, it was exactly the same! With its thin crispy crust, sweet tangy sauce and all, it almost seemed like the pizza was lifted from my memory and delivered by a time machine. Truly, the food trip was nostalgia in every bite. The sampling I had was small but it was enough to bring me back to when everything was downright uncomplicated like it. It didn’t feature any truffle oil, Caesar dressing or stuffing like its competition. It was just unapologetically simple: dough, sauce, ham and cheese.
In a way, even with new offerings and updated restaurant interiors, there was really nothing new about 3M Pizza. Then again, maybe that’s okay. Because in a world where everything changes so fast, it is nice to find something that stays just the way we loved it.