Indian innovation

Made in India: The world's best pizza box

A Mumbai businessman has revolutionised the way hot take-out food will reach you. His solution: making sure the packaging has proper ventilation.

Tired of having too many soggy pizzas delivered to him, Vinay Mehta decided to do something about it. In 2006, with a pen knife, some cardboard and a long drive between Mumbai and Pune, he designed VENTiT, which has been judged as the world's best pizza box.

Mehta's container was accorded this honour recently by Scott Wiener, the New York-based pizza aficionado and author of a book called ‘Viva La Pizza! The Art of the Pizza Box’.

Wiener should know. He has collected approximately 650 boxes from around the world since 2009 and is the Guinness World Record holder in this category. He said that of all the boxes he has seen, Mehta’s design is 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 to Scroll.

The biggest challenge faced by take-out restaurants, experts say, is the poor ventilation of the packaging. Trapped steam condenses on the food, making it unappealing and dampening its aroma.

Mehta was well placed to solve this problem. He has been dealing with corrugated cardboard boxes for 35 years. He owns a firm called Reproscan, which offers printing services to packaging firms, as also the advertising and publishing sector.

He realised that most pizza boxes are ineffective because they have holes on the side to release steam -- but the heat is actually released from the top and bottom of the pies. Mehta’s solution is simple.

Cardboard, he explained consists of three layers: two flat surfaces and one ridged corrugated sheet in between. VENTiT boxes have holes in the two flat surfaces, but not in the middle layer. This permits steam to travel through the grooves in the middle corrugated layer, without getting trapped inside the box. More importantly, no additional material is required to manufacture the box.

“It's the biggest challenge of pizza box designers to create something that retains heat without trapping steam while still staying inexpensive and I think this box has achieved just that!” said Wiener.

Here's what the box promises to do.



Mehta is planning to tie up with international partners to produce and distribute VENTiT boxes all over the world. It took him five years to obtain an initial patent and he started selling the box only in 2011. He now has patents in over 100 countries.

He already manufactures about 100,000 boxes a month for clients in south Mumbai. Smokin’ Joe’s, a 21-year-old pizza outlet was his first customer, but he has added several other pizza makers to his list, including Francesco’s Pizzeria and Pizza Metro Pizza.

He also supplies boxes to purveyors of other cuisines, from fruit to south Indian delicacies. “Have you ever ordered a dosa?” he asked. “It’s too rubbery. But with my box, it is delivered crisp.”

According to Mehta, the cardboard industry has remained static for over a century. “It has always been about two things: compression and cushioning. With my box, I’ve added a third element to this. That is ventilation.”
Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Decoding the symbolic threads and badges of one of India’s oldest cavalry units

The untold story of The President’s Bodyguard.

The national emblem of India; an open parachute and crossed lances – this triad of symbols representing the nation, excellence in training and valor respectively are held together by an elite title in the Indian army – The President’s Bodyguard (PBG).

The PBG badge is worn by one of the oldest cavalry units in the India army. In 1773, Governor Warren Hastings, former Governor General of India, handpicked 50 troopers. Before independence, this unit was referred to by many titles including Troops of Horse Guards and Governor General’s Body Guards (GGBG). In 1950, the unit was named The President’s Bodyguard and can be seen embroidered in the curved maroon shoulder titles on their current uniforms.

The President’s Bodyguard’s uniform adorns itself with proud colours and symbols of its 245 year-old-legacy. Dating back to 1980, the ceremonial uniform consists of a bright red long coat with gold girdles and white breeches, a blue and gold ceremonial turban with a distinctive fan and Napoleon Boots with spurs. Each member of the mounted unit carries a special 3-meter-long bamboo cavalry lance, decorated by a red and white pennant. A sheathed cavalry sabre is carried in in the side of the saddle of each trooper.

While common perception is that the PBG mainly have ceremonial duties such as that of being the President’s escort during Republic Day parade, the fact is that the members of the PBG are highly trained. Handpicked by the President’s Secretariat from mainstream armored regiments, the unit assigns a task force regularly for Siachen and UN peace keeping operations. Moreover, the cavalry members are trained combat parachutists – thus decorating the PBG uniform with a scarlet Para Wings badge that signifies that these troopers are a part of the airborne battalion of the India Army.

Since their foundation, the President’s Guard has won many battle honors. In 1811, they won their first battle honor ‘Java’. In 1824, they sailed over Kalla Pani for the first Burmese War and earned the second battle honour ‘Ava’. The battle of Maharajapore in 1843 won them their third battle honor. Consequently, the PBG fought in the main battles of the First Sikh War and earned four battle honours. Post-independence, the PBG served the country in the 1962 Indo-China war and the 1965 Indo-Pak war.

The PBG, one of the senior most regiments of the Indian Army, is a unique unit. While the uniform is befitting of its traditional and ceremonial role, the badges that augment those threads, tell the story of its impressive history and victories.

How have they managed to maintain their customs for more than 2 centuries? A National Geographic exclusive captures the PBG’s untold story. The documentary series showcases the discipline that goes into making the ceremonial protectors of the supreme commander of the Indian Armed Forces.

Play

The National Geographic exclusive is a landmark in television and is being celebrated by the #untoldstory contest. The contest will give 5 lucky winners an exclusive pass to the pre-screening of the documentary with the Hon’ble President of India at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. You can also nominate someone you think deserves to be a part of the screening. Follow #UntoldStory on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to participate.

This article was produced by Scroll marketing team on behalf of National Geographic and not by the Scroll editorial team.