Most people have a favorite pizza place. For David Schuler his is Town Spa in Stoughton, .
But that doesn't prevent Schuler, a Stoughton native, from enjoying a slice (or more) of his favorite hometown pizza.
Schuler when he drove from his home in Madison, Miss. (north of Jackson, Miss.) to Town Spa and back again to . He upped the ante this year by placing an order of 250 pizzas.
After enjoying lunch at the Stoughton restaurant early Saturday afternoon, he packed up his car with six coolers full of pizza - 100 plain cheese; 100 pepper and onion; and 50 linguica and onion - and began his journey back home to Mississippi.
He’ll share the pizzas with family—he’s one of 12 children, eight of whom live in the southern part of the country. The family moved to Mississippi in the 1970s (with some eventually moving back up north) and couldn’t find a replacement for their favorite hometown pizza.
"When I was 13 we moved to Mississippi and up until that point the only pizza I ever had in my life was . We tried pizza in Mississippi. It just wasn't the same," Schuler said in an interview Thursday night at Town Spa, his third trip to the restaurant since arriving in the Boston area last Sunday, August 5.
"We got to the point that every time we would come back to Massachusetts we would bring pizza back with us in our suitcase," Schuler said.
But that was only a few pizzas at a time.
Then one time Schuler flew up to Massachusetts he purchased 40 frozen pizzas from Town Spa and headed back south with those on an airplane. But he decided he needed to start driving so he could bring more pizzas back.
"The first time I did it [driving back with pizzas] I tired it and I bought frozen pizzas and they kind of thawed out part way home and the crust got soggy...so I had to figure out a new way to travel with them," he said.
It took some perfecting to master the art of making a combined 2,800-mile takeout trip.
The pizzas Schuler packed up in the trunk of his dark gray Ford Escape SUV Saturday afternoon are vacuum sealed, split between six coolers. The pizzas are only half-cooked, then sealed and put in a cooler with ice to help keep them cool. The pizzas are turned on their side, Schuler explains, packed tight enough that they can't move around, but not so tight that they would get squished.
From transporting 40 pizzas, he increased his order to 100, then to 150 last August and now 250 this August.
His mother, Andrea Schuler, is the steward of the Town Spa pizzas once they arrive down south, where they are then stored in a freezer.
About two weeks ago, David Schuler finished the last of the 150 pizzas he brought back to Mississippi last August.
"It was perfect timing," he said. "All I had to do was make it two more weeks and I'll have a whole other shipment."
How do those pizzas taste when they have been frozen for almost a year?
"It tastes great. It's incredible. It's hard to believe," Schuler said. "It's not quite as good as having one right here [at Town Spa in Stoughton], but you still have the taste, the cheese and the seasoning and the crust. The crust is still perfect just like it is [in the restaurant]...nice and crunchy."
Schuler said he didn't expect the media buzz that last year's order created. Local, national and international news outlets ran stories about Schuler's trek for his favorite pizza.
The pizzas are a valuable commodity for Schuler. He was offered $1,200 for just five of the pizzas for a "taste challenge" down in Mississippi - roughly the same amount he paid for the full order of 150 pizzas last August.
He turned the offer down.
"The media down [in Mississippi] went crazy," he said. "[How can you] turn down $1,200 for five pizzas and I said hey I don't know when I'll be able to come back up here - I can't afford to sacrifice five pizzas."
He has allowed some his friends to try the Town Spa pies and Schuler said they told him it was "the best pizza they ever had."
The Schuler family gathered at Town Spa this past Thursday to celebrate Anne Schuler's 39th birthday (for the 18th time, she joked). Anne, who now lives in Middleboro with her husband Ray Schuler (David's brother) was raised in Stoughton as well - her maiden name is Leoffler - and also grew up enjoying Town Spa Pizza, a Stoughton mainstay for 57 years.
And many members of the Massachusetts branch of the Schuler family gathered at Town Spa again, Saturday August 11, before sending David off on his trip back to Mississippi. They were joined by Town Spa staff, including owner Dick Phillips and his grandson Matt Phillips, who handles shipping orders, which have boomed since Schuler's trip made headlines last year.
"I think I reached my limit," Schuler joked, suggesting he wouldn't top his order of 250 pizzas in the future. "This is going to last a long time."