A fun thing about living in modern times is now we have to know what the hell NFTs are in order to keep up with news about pizza. Pizza Hut Canada has announced it is releasing “1 Byte Favourites,” aka digital images of pizza, as non-fungible tokens. “Pizza Hut believes no world should exist without pizza, especially their pan pizza. That’s why they wanted to make sure it was enshrined in the digital universe,” they said in a release. Each week the company will release a new image of a pizza slice, each of a different recipe, for purchase on Rarible. The first-ever “slice” was listed for $0.0001 ETH (a cryptocurrency the equivalent of 18 cents), but wound up being sold for $8,824.
So, what the hell does this mean? A non-fungible token is essentially a unique digital asset available for purchase with cryptocurrency on the Ethereum blockchain. Once an artist or company uploads this digital asset, “the NFT will exist permanently on the blockchain, so long as the chain remains in operation. As a result, no two NFTs are purely identical, since each piece contains unique digital properties,” explains Vox. This idea of rarity is driving a collecting boom, with people paying millions for essentially unique jpegs. Instead of paying money for a slice of pizza, you’re paying money for a one-of-a-kind digital picture of pizza, even though that doesn’t include IP rights, so is it even yours? Also, people have already been hacking and stealing NFTs. Honestly this tweet probably explains it best:
"Hello police? I traded some imaginary math money for some computer files that list me as the owner of a bunch of jpegs. Now someone changed my password and took the files. Yes, I'll hold."— Fred Scharmen (@sevensixfive) March 15, 2021
On top of all this, NFTs are absolutely destroying the planet. Memo Akten estimates a single NFT’s ecological footprint “is equivalent to a EU resident’s total electric power consumption for more than a month, with emissions equivalent to driving for 1000Km, or flying for 2 hours.” Some artists have already used the equivalent of an EU resident’s energy consumption in an entire lifetime in NFT transactions.
Pizza Hut made a big deal of its environmental push in the past years, pushing plant-based meat toppings and a round pizza box that used less packaging, and with parent company Yum Brands boasting it saved 1.3 billion gallons of water in 2017. Obviously there’s no purely sustainable transaction, but it reveals Pizza Hut’s dedication to the environment for what it is: a hypocritical marketing ploy.
Pizza Hut isn’t the only one getting into the NFT market. Taco Bell has sold NFT gifs of tacos. And the guy who went viral over the summer for drinking Ocean Spray while skateboarding to Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” is selling the original video clip as an NFT, but without the Fleetwood Mac song because, surprise surprise, he doesn’t have the rights to that song. And of course you’ll still be able to watch that video literally anywhere. So congrats to whoever thinks they own these things. Hope your slice of digital pizza that you can’t eat brings you a lot of joy!