Pavlov's pizza

Harvard psychologist Susan Linn, co-founder of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, sees something devilish lurking behind Pizza Hut's "Book It" program, which rewards young readers with free pizzas. "In the name of education," says Linn, Book It is "positioning family visits to Pizza Hut as an integral component of raising literate children." Of course! It's just like what happened in the Manchurian Candidate and what that Pavlov fellow was up to with his hounds. By tying reading to mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce, Pizza Hut has created a nefarious system of classical conditioning and behavior modification: whenever youngsters stumble across the written word, they'll manifest an insatiable desire for a large stuffed crust with banana peppers and bacon. But despite the obvious mind control, some school leaders seem unconcerned. Principal Chris Carney of Bennett Elementary School in Fort Lauderdale says of Book It, "the positive effects outweigh other effects." He could be right. After all, four Gadfly contributors were onetime Book It participants (and Fordham's Checker Finn is still in the program). Then again, all of us do really like pizza.   

"Critics want pizza to go--away," by David Crary, Associated Press, March 3, 2007