Earlier this year, I started to notice Outsiders Pizza Co. products hitting the frozen food case at my local Chicago-area grocery stores. Intrigue arose as I noticed “Detroit Style” emblazoned across the pizza’s packaging. I thought, “That takes a lot of nerve in a city like Chicago…”

Here in Chicago, we fiercely defend our pizza styles—and no, it’s not all about deep-dish like Lou Malnati’s, Pizzeria Uno and Gino’s East (with the latter two offering frozen retail counterparts)… Chicago’s Italian, cracker-thin, tavern-cut pizza, which predates deep-dish, often flies under the radar—and some of these local thin operators, including Home Run Inn and Vito & Nick’s II (which best embodies the style), have also found success in the retail freezer case.

People are passionate about their regional foods—and that passion carries power. Sometimes, that power can propel that food into other markets, as Chicago has done with its pizza.

I had been hearing about Detroit-style pizza baked in rectangular steel pans, topped with Wisconsin brick cheese, melting over the edges to create notable char…

So I gave the Outsider a try—and lo and behold, it won this Chicagoan over. And now I’ve noticed that Chicago is home to a growing number of Detroit-style pizzerias. Interesting, how trends coalesce…

Outsiders Pizza, which focuses on “under-respected” regional pizzas, is funded by Nestlé as an internal incubator brand, quickly bringing the products to market—and to a much-wider audience than otherwise possible. It’s a great way to explore the market potential of incremental brand growth in targeted categories.

Regional specialties factor into a few features this month, including Detroit-style pizza in our Private Label Report (which sent me along on this train of thought…), our 34 Degrees Cover Story on bringing Australian crisps to the U.S., and a bit on South American arepas in our Buns & Rolls Market Trends discussion.

Regional influences are everywhere, and some command attention.