CLEAR LAKE | No pepperoni or sausage pizzas in this contest.
The 11th annual regional PizzaThon competition showed off the culinary creativity of middle-school students in talented and gifted programs in Clear Lake, Corwith-Wesley-LuVerne, Ventura/Garner-Hayfield, Northwood-Kensett, St. Ansgar, West Fork, West Hancock and Charles City. PizzaThon was sponsored by North Central Iowa Ag in the Classroom and Garner Pizza Ranch.
The cook-off was held at Zion Lutheran Church in Clear Lake.
The St. Ansgar students got some inspiration from Iowa's northern neighbors. Their "Spam Bam" pizza featured the canned delicacy from Hormel.
The group wanted to make a grilled cheese pizza. When team members decided to add meat to the pizza pie they thought of Spam.
"Since Hormel is only a half hour away and they make Spam, it worked out pretty well as something made in the Midwest," said St. Ansgar student Theo Baldus.
Charles City's "Deep Dish Blitz" was a fruit pizza with a cookie crust and sweet sauce made from cream cheese, marshmallow cream, bananas and mangoes.
"Our pizza is very ethnic. There are many foods from all over the world used in our pizza," said Charles City student Sophia Morton.
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The sauce is spread on the crust and topped with mangoes and strawberries.
Rodney Flood, a Charles City student, said his team's pizza is sweet.
"And it can be served cold or hot whichever way you like it," Flood said.
The team from West Hancock used a crust made of ramen noodles for their Asian-inspired mandarin chicken pizza.
West Hancock's "Asian Express" was weeks in the making, according to team member Kacie Eliason.
"We started with a dessert pizza idea and then we just kind of thought of other different types of meals that people like to eat. Then we thought of oriental so we tried to make a pizza off of that," Eliason said.
Besides preparing their pizzas, the students had to present marketing plans for their pizzas.
This was the first time judging the contest for Keith Hood, an area manager for Pizza Ranch.
"It's awesome. They put a lot of work and dedication into it and its been a pleasure to be here with them today," Hood said.