The True Esoteric Meaning of Bitcoin Pizza

May 19, 2021 3 min read
The True Esoteric Meaning of Bitcoin Pizza

The cryptocurrency community celebrates Bitcoin Pizza Day every year on May 22. Here's the deep meaning behind all the silliness.

To be clear, we're talking about pizza purchased with bitcoin. Not made with bitcoin. Putting a hardware wallet into food sounds like a bad idea? But hey, don't let me tell you what to do. (If you manage to make a pizza that physically contains bitcoin, plz send pics. Try a paper wallet with food-safe lamination, if that's a thing?)

The fact is, freedom enables controversial choices:

#BitcoinPizza is historical trivia, a fun reason to reminisce. As such it may not seem all that important — just another welcome excuse to eat pizza, with or without the pineapple! Respected OGs deserve a chance, every once in a while, to bring up the good ol' days when this scene was brand new.

However, the bitcoin pizza incident also demonstrates something vitally important: bitcoin summoned itself from the future. People aren't joking when they call Satoshi a wizard 😉

Before I explain, a quick review: On May 22nd, 2010, when bitcoin was trading for less than a penny, Laszlo Hanyecz offered 10,000 BTC to anyone who would bring him two Papa John's pizzas. (Here we observe a moment of silence for Laszlo's taste.) As far as anyone knows, he was the first person ever to buy a physical item with bitcoin.

The amount of bitcoin that Laszlo spent on those savory pies is now worth hundreds of millions of United States dollars. Disclaimer: $BTC price is too volatile for me to bother calculating the exact number only for it to be wrong in five minutes. Go look at the Hedgehog bitcoin page and figure it out yourself.

Anyway, last year on the decade anniversary, CoinDesk checked whether the counterfactual of being crazy rich was driving Laszlo insane:

Hanyecz works for apparel brand GORUCK as a developer and, partly because he is internet-famous, the e-commerce company is one of a handful that accepts bitcoin. It's a small volume, about two or three orders per week over the past two years, Hanyecz told me. But it's working out.

"We've just been holding it and we're actually up a significant amount," he said. "We had some people check out at $3,000, we had some people check out at $11,000. The dollar cost averaging people talk about, it works really well."

"It was a really interesting system but nobody [was] using it," Laszlo told CoinDesk. "If nobody's using it, it doesn't matter if I have it all."

That right there is exactly why the cryptocurrency community celebrates Bitcoin Pizza Day annually: Laszlo actually used it, the madman! He did so back when "bitcoin millions" were a ludicrous dream, not one of the various tech-based ways that a diligent, lucky person can make their fortune.

Once upon a time, bitcoin seemed like an elaborate prank. Now it's part of many retirement savings portfolios. What incredible progress over the course of 11 years!

If Laszlo hadn't been willing to experiment and give bitcoin a real try, if many early bitcoiners hadn't poured their time, energy, and passion into Satoshi's radical invention, then none of the rest of us would be here today. It's pretty awesome that they put in the work — and play! — to make it all happen.

I promised you the true esoteric meaning of bitcoin pizza. Well, I wasn't kidding. It's appropriately cheesy: with hope, determination, laughter, plenty of patience, and the best damn idea this century, we can change the world. You ready?


Image credit: Bitcoin on pizza delivery box by Marco Verch.

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