Thirty Minutes or It's Free
"Wise man say: 'Forgiveness is divine, but never pay full price for a late pizza.'"
A pizza is ordered. If it fails to arrive within a certain time frame, it's free! This was an advertising gimmick invented by Domino's Pizza in the 1980s, but was largely discontinued in the early 1990s because of an increase in the number of delivery drivers getting into car accidents or being pulled over for speeding and reckless driving
. Nonetheless, it still shows up in fiction.
Can be done from the perspective of the irate customer or the put-upon delivery guy — who may well have his job dependent on getting there in time. Comedic versions may have someone order pizza from some outrageous location in the middle of nowhere, such as the middle of the jungle, Antarctica, or the moon. Most of the time, the pizza still gets there on time (or two minutes late).
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- A pizza place commercial, aired on a Toronto radio station in the 1980s, satirized this with a reporter giving a play-by-play of a fictitious restaurant's thirty-second delivery, with predictably disastrous results. ("Oh no, there's tomato sauce all over the road! Someone get a serviette!") The commercial's concluding slogan: "No gimmicks. Just great pizza."
- An ad for Western Union shown in Australia had a student order a pizza and then realize he didn't have the cash to pay for it. He phones his father overseas for his allowance, who wires it to him. A split screen shows the pizza being prepared and delivered while the student goes to collect his cash. He gets back to his apartment just before the pizza delivery guy gets there within the thirty-minute deadline. After this version became well-known, the ad was changed so that the pizza is ruined at the end because of all the weaving through traffic the delivery guy did.
Anime & Manga
- The second segment of the Ecchi anime Tales of Titillation by U-Jin makes use of this trope for outright parody. A trio of sisters persecute the deliverymen of "Pizza Tokyo" with acts of blatant exhibitionism to delay them past the thirty minutes mark. The funniest part is when the clueless (and virgin) rookie is sent to do the delivery, and all his co-workers act as if they were in a war movie and watching him go on a suicide mission, with "Taps" playing in the background as he drives off.
- In Ninja Burger, the rule is "Delivery in thirty minutes or we commit seppuku." Based on Greenwich Mean Time for locations in geosynchronous orbit. And there's one city they don't deliver to (Detroit. Anything but Detroit.). Aside from that — yes, the extreme case. Lost hikers, hostages, recluses or dictators who don't want to have to turn off their security, submarine crews... thirty minutes, pretty much guaranteed. They even mention that Jimmy Hoffa is one of their best customers. And yes, they do deliver to the Bermuda Triangle.
- One stand-up comic had a routine about a city he visited which straddled a time zone. Right across the street was a pizza joint.
"The second you order it, it's already late!"
- Bill Hicks' recipe for a perfect world? Let everyone stay home, get stoned, and order pizza.
"Domino's Pizza trucks passing each other on the highway. Let them get stuck in traffic — all our pizza will be free!"
- Archie Comics:
- Jughead encounters this problem when he has to deliver a pizza to a house atop a rocky cliff on an island.
- Archie also once went through this problem in a story where he worked at a pizza place a few minutes away from Reggie's house. Reggie pulls off several traps to prevent Archie from making it through his front yard, but Archie accidentally tosses the pizza, it lands in Reggie's face at the last second.
- Disney Ducks Comic Universe
- There is a story where Scrooge McDuck orders a pizza, and, being his regular parsimonious self, deliberately sabotages the delivery, so that it would take longer than the thirty minutes and he wouldn't have to pay for it. Unfortunately for him, it's well enough time for the pizza to get cold and wet, and he doesn't get to enjoy it very much.
- Donald Duck's neighbor Jones, with whom he's in something of an Escalating War, also tried to sabotage a delivery — not because he really wanted the pizza, but because Donald had just been hired as the delivery boy. This was an extreme case, since the pizza chain would offer as many pizzas of that type as you wanted, any time you wanted, free for an entire year, and Jones had just ordered the most expensive pizza on the menu. Donald did not in fact make it in time, but the joke was ultimately on Jones—he hadn't checked what ingredients went into that type of pizza, and the special pizza sauce turned out to be a substance he'd previously been revealed to hate.
- In a Ren & Stimpy comic, the two have only thirty seconds to deliver a pizza with absurdly many toppings.
Films — Live-Action
- Far Fetched Fiction
- In the novel Waiting for Godalming by Robert Rankin, Lazlo points out that if they make this offer they are going to find you rather than give you a free pizza. He experimented with this fact by hiding in his house, leading the pizza deliverers to abseil down to his window.
- Lazlo also uses this knowledge to escape from a secret underground base, by ordering pizza, relying on them delivering in under thirty minutes, then paying extra to get a lift out. Taking this to illogical extremes, oh yes.
- Snow Crash begins with a suspenseful, high-speed version from the pizza guy's point of view. The pizza company is run by The Mafia, and their guarantee is that if the pizza is late, the customer will get it for free, and Uncle Enzo himself will drop whatever he's doing to come and apologize immediately, in person. The book never says what, exactly, would happen to the delivery boy, but given that Uncle Enzo is the head of the east coast Mafia and that he would have had to interrupt whatever he was doing to apologize to some schlub in the middle of nowhere, no-one really wants to find out. The Uncle Enzo guarantee only covers the time the pizza arrives in. Not the shape. Since part of the "apology" includes, among other things, a vacation in Italy it's implied that a lot of people just order pizzas as a form of gambling.
- In Gerald Gardner's Who in the World Is in Charge?, Lech Walesa is shown talking on the phone: "So, if if it's not here in 30 minutes, the pizza's free? I'm in Poland."
- In an episode of Better with You, Debra Jo Rupp and Kurt Fuller's characters deliberately make the delivery guy wait outside their door for 12 minutes, just so they don't have to pay.
- An episode of Due South, "Pizzas and Promises", utilized this, when Ray called a place far away on purpose in the hopes that the delivery boy would be late and the pizza would be free. When the pizza ends up being a few seconds late, Fraser insists on paying anyways, and guilt-trips Ray into doing the same. Of course, then the pizza guy's car gets stolen, kicking off the episode's actual non-pizza-related plot.
- The guys in Men Behaving Badly tried to take advantage of this by deliberately asking for rare and hard-to-prepare toppings to slow down the response time, and eventually pretending there's no-one home in the hope of claiming later that the delivery guy must have gone to the wrong house. Tony messed it up because he wasn't in on the 'pretending no-one's here' bit.
- In the British sitcom The Thin Blue Line, Inspector Fowler says this while pretending to be a pizza delivery boy so he can gain access to a bank where robbers are holding people hostage.
- The Deputies of Reno 911 set up a kid like this. They called in an order for halfway across town and then waited down the block. When the delivery driver came tearing out of the parking lot at breakneck speed, they pulled him over and arrested him.
- The Red Green Show: Red sets up a number of roadblocks in order to get the pizzas he ordered for free, unbeknownst to him, the pizza guy called back and got directions from Harold on how to avoid all of the Lodge's debris.
- In the short-lived BBC comedy about an understaffed remote RAF base, All Along the Watchtower, a company offers 50p off the price for every 10 minutes longer than an hour the pizza takes to arrive. When the pizza finally arrives (days later than ordered) the cast are also given several pounds.
- The Australian sitcom Hey Dad..! had an episode about a diet, or a hunger strike, or something, that ended with the starving characters giving up and ordering pizza — which then never arrives, because one of the other characters deliberately misdirects the delivery guy in an attempt to get the pizza free.
- The music video for PBS's Square One TV, "Ghost of a Chance", seems to be based on this trope. The pizza delivery guy is getting lost inside a haunted house to delay him from delivering in time.
- On one episode of Clarissa Explains It All, Clarissa and Ferguson are allowed to order pizza while their parents are out, despite their mom's usual strict health-food obsession. They repeatedly time the delivery boy down to seconds, and then repeatedly send him back with a new order when he's inevitably late.
- In Alias, when in the safehouse, Will says ""thirty minutes or less" before opening the door and getting shot by Sark.
- The Adventures of Pete & Pete: Ellen gets a job as a pizza delivery girl and has to do this in the final episode.
- In an episode of Brazilian series A Grande Família, the delivery boy made it on time but the customer delayed his response until the thirty minutes were off so the pizza would be free. The two of them argued over this.
- In Stargate SG-1 season 8 episode "Gemini", General O'Neill mentions that Thor will deliver in thirty minutes or it's free — except it's not a pizza here, but an Asgard satellite of Replicator disruption.
- On the Growing Pains episode "The Home Show," the Seavers are having to set up a party at the last minute, because Jason used an old calendar to set the date. When a pizza is accidentally delivered to their house instead of the neighbors, Jason starts to tell the delivery guy his mistake, until Mike reminds him they need the food for the party. Jason thinks for a second then says, "We ordered five pizzas, not one, and that was 31 minutes ago, so they're free."
- In Absurd Notions, the characters call out for pizza when there's 5 feet of snow on the ground. The result:
Warren: But you do have some kind of delivery guarantee, don't you?
Pythagoras' Pizza Palace: Of course. If it's not there within two hours, the pizza is free.
Warren: So, what does that mean in this context?
Pythagoras: We have your free pizza waiting for you here. Come get it whenever you like.
- Suicide for Hire
- Referenced here in Kevin & Kell. Kell reminds Kevin (who ordered grass sod, being a rabbit) to tip the driver either way.
- In now-defunct sprite comic InSONICnia, the Hyper Metal Triad egged Sonic's house, so Sonic gets revenge by ordering 1000 pizzas under their name and address.
Mach Pizza; I've got those 1000 pizzas here, just like you ordered! That comes to $600,000.00 Muckles:
Your guarantee states that you will deliver in thirty minutes.
You have exceeded your time limitations by approximately 7.2 minutes. The cost of those is nullified.
- Dawn of Time parodies the trope, Mad Max-style, in a filler arc titled "Dawn in Time".
- Butch of Chopping Block has tested whether the pizza is free if the pizza guy is never heard from again. In a later strip, he's revealed to have a "dead in thirty minutes or you go free" guarantee.
- The Trope Namer is a Domino's Pizza ad campaign wherein if customers didn't get their pizza at their door in thirty minutes, the pizza was free. Unfortunately, it went horribly wrong, with Domino's drivers running red lights, exceeding speed limits, extremely reckless driving, and causing car accidents while attempting to beat the thirty minute time limit. Domino's was eventually sued and forced to stop using the promotion.
- Domino's brought it back in the late-00's with an ad campaign stressing realistic and silly things one can do in the thirty minutes while waiting for pizza. Of course, the small print indicates that the thirty minutes is not a guarantee due to the inherent danger.
- Domino's most recent overall campaign Oh Yes, We Did! stresses a complete revamp of the way they do business and make the pizza better. In at least one commercial the old 30 minute promotion is referred to, saying "...we've discovered you need to take a little longer to make a good pizza".
- Places that still do have the "thirty minutes" deal nowadays mean "thirty minutes from when it leaves the parlor", not "thirty minutes from when you place the order" giving drivers more leeway (and ensuring their safety) while still technically keeping their word.
- In Brazil, (or at least in Rio de Janeiro), Domino's "thirty minutes" deal came with a disclaimer: it was not valid if the order was for more than five pizzas and/or the destination was out of their delivery area.
- At least into 2013, this guarantee still applied in Mexico...for competitor Pizza Hut.
- The Canadian pizza chain "Pizza Pizza" (not to be confused with Little Caesar's, whose slogan was "Pizza pizza"), has a 40 minutes-or-it's-free guarantee. Pizzas always seem to come at 39 minutes. The amount of time changes depending on the size of the order and the weather conditions. Large orders can take up to an hour (but are still free afterwards).
- Read any message board where delivery drivers post. People still appeal to this policy to try to get free food, even if it's not pizza.
- Some McDonald's restaurants once had a guarantee on how long it would take from ordering to receiving your food at the drive-thru, complete with a clock installed at the drive-thru window that counted how long it's been. That didn't last very long. Among other problems, service for customers inside the restaurant suffered badly.
- They also had a promotion with a timer on the inside-restaurant counters where you got a free drink if the order took over a given time to be filled. Since this was in Sweden, it was generally ignored by both workers and customers until they stopped the promotion again.
- There is still a clock inside and the drive-thru have a time that the managers want to keep them under, regardless of the actual orders. When large orders come through, support for the inside customers can still drop to one frantic employee.
- A variation of this promotion is still given to drive-thru customers by some of them during the weekday lunch rush. If your food isn't ready within a certain amount of time of your car reaching the pick-up window, you get a coupon for something.
- Seafirst Bank used to have a "You get served in five minutes or you get $5" policy at its teller windows. They eventually gave it up for obvious reasons. Then they got bought by Bank of America.
- Dunkin' Donuts starts a timer whenever a new person reaches the speaker. If it hits 150 seconds, a loud buzzer sounds every fifteen seconds until the customer drives off. A running tally, visible to the indoor customers, is kept of how many customers were served under the cut; if it drops under 80%, it starts to glow bright red.
- Habib's, a Brazilian chain of Arab food is known for the low prices and also for the "If it's not at your door in 28 minutes, it's free".
- Sears has an in-store ready for pickup service after you ordered online. If the associate doesn't deliver your merchandise within 5 minutes after you input your order information, you receive a coupon good for the next in-store purchase.
- Many delivery places will have a set delivery area, usually within a particular travel time of the store, and preventing two stores from the same company from competing with each other in the same area, meaning you can't try to order a pizza from the far side of the city in hopes of exploiting this trope.
- Amazon's Prime service offers many items with free shipping with a guaranteed delivery of no more than two days, excluding Sunday. They are committed to this and will provide at least a month of free Prime (a value of over $8) if the item does not arrive in that timeframe.