Shepard students team with Oak Forest restaurant to make, market their own pizzas

When it comes to pizza varieties, it turns out traditional pies are preferred, at least by a sampling of Southland students.

As a classroom at Shepard High School in Palos Heights filled on a recent Friday with the aroma of newly delivered pizzas, some students became antsy with anticipation.

“Let’s eat, we’re starving,” said one student in Jennifer Spellman’s market research class.

But this wasn’t some celebratory pizza party. The students were there to recreate a market analysis experience and the pizzas were there to be judged.

After each pizza was sampled, the students completed a survey asking if they liked the name, the look, the smell, the taste and the texture of the sample. The surveys were compiled at the end of the tasting and the winners were announced.

First place winners were Kayla Jackson and Jourdan Jackson, who won with the Grub Pizza, a combination of pepperoni, sausage and bacon.

Coming in second was the Mozzomello Pizza, created by Esma Tantawi and Genin Abas, with ingredients of Mozzarella sticks, chicken and black olives.

Third place went to the Mostaccioli Pizza, created by Adam Shaw and Sydney Emerson, whose ingredients included crust, pizza sauce, layered with mostaccioli with meat sauce and pizza cheese on top.

Winner Jourdan Jackson said he figured the other students would go with unique and creative ingredients so he and Kayla decided to go with a safe bet and chose the basic taste of pepperoni and sausage and added the bacon for its special flavor.

The project was conducted with help from Beggars Pizza in Oak Forest.

“We are going to help them out,” Spellman said. “This is a look at the real world of business. They want to add a new thin crust signature pizza to their menu so we are going to follow the steps of the market research process. Your goal is to gather information to create a pizza that people will want to buy; what ingredients will attract them and give it a name to attract attention on the menu. This is the process designed to increase sales for the restaurant.”

Sixteen groups of two students each dived into the project, surveying the Shepard staff, administrators and students on their favorite pizzas, how often they have pizzas and what ingredients they would add.

Class presentations were made and judged on the created pizza names and ingredients. The top three winning recipes were sent to Beggars Pizza who prepared the new recipes and delivered the pizzas to the classroom at Shepard for the tasting process which determined the final winners.

Spellman said later that she thought it would be a fun project for the class and give them a realistic look at how products are developed and marketed.

“I hope they will always remember this experience and what they gained from it.” she said.

Winning team member Kayla Jackson, who plans to attend Concordia university in Chicago and study sports management, said she would recommend her Grub Pizza to anyone.

“I liked this experience and enjoyed having a say in the outcome. It was cool to try something different,” she said.

Teammate Jourdan Jackson plans to study psychology at Northern Illinois University, but after his experience with the pizza marketing process, he could have a fallback option.

He could see himself being a taster for companies and helping them decide what will be successful.

Sharon Filkins is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.

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