This post was first published on 2nd April, 2014.
Vinay Mehta ordered pizza one evening. It was soggy from the steam trapped inside the box, a far cry from the crispy, steamy pizza he’d hoped for. Although this dampened the pizza’s aroma, it was nowhere near dampening his spirit. Instead, Mr. Mehta resolved to end this problem once and for all. All it took was a little “thinking outside the box”. Or was it inside?
Here’s how it goes:
While the food packaging industry had almost entirely stagnated after solving the compression and cushioning problems of packaging boxes, no one had so much as given a second thought to the ventilation problem. Mr. Mehta took it upon himself to bring about a solution for this ventilation problem and in 2006, he invented VENTiT – a new box for packaging food.
After realizing that most pizza boxes were ineffective since they had holes on the sides but that heat was actually released from the top and bottom of boxes, Mr. Mehta came up with a simple solution – a box that retains heat within, without trapping steam. While a conventional pizza box is made up of three flat layers, VENTiT, which boasts of a revolutionary ventilation system consists of two flat surfaces and one ridged corrugated sheet in between the top and bottom layers. These boxes have holes in the two flat surfaces, but not in the middle layer, thus permitting the steam to travel through the grooves in the middle layer, without getting trapped inside the box.
Mr. Mehta applied for a patent. Five years and several soggy pizzas later, he finally managed to obtain an initial patent and started selling the box in 2011. Now, he holds patents in over a hundred countries (US Patent No.: 8662378). VENTiT has been judged the “world’s best pizza box” by Scott Wiener, the New York-based pizza aficionado and author of Viva La Pizza! The Art of the Pizza Box. Wiener collected approximately 650 boxes from around the globe and admits that, of all the boxes he has seen, Mehta’s design was best suited to delivering steaming pizzas. “It’s smart because it doesn’t add any hardware, just rethinks the common construction of a box and rearranges it,” Wiener wrote.
Mr. Mehta confidently wonders aloud, “Have you ever ordered a dosa? It’s too rubbery. But with my box, it is delivered crisp.” He plans to tie up with international partners to produce and distribute VENTiT throughout the world. He manufactures nearly 100,000 boxes in a month. Smokin’ Joe’s was his first customer, and he has added several other pizza makers to his list. He supplies boxes to purveyors of other cuisines, from fruit to south Indian delicacies.