Bitcoin Pizza Day
Bitcoin,  Commentary

Bitcoin Pizza Day: 10 years on, $91M pies

A booming bitcoin and the adoption of blockchain technology by multinational corporations, leading financial institutions, and even governments shows how far Satoshi Nakamoto’s dream has come

Bitcoin Pizza day
The editor celebrates Bitcoin Pizza Day (Photo: Leo Jakobson)

It’s Friday, May 22, 2020, and two pizza pies cost $45.90 at Stromboli Pizza, across from my apartment in New York City. But 10 years ago, in Florida, two pies from Papa John’s cost Laszlo Hanyecz about $41—or 10,000 bitcoins, which is how he paid

Today, on the 10th anniversary of Bitcoin Pizza Day, that is $92,332,500. At least he made his daughter happy.

Not that Hanyecz got a good deal even then. Two Papa John’s pies cost about $25 at the time, and his 10,000 bitcoins were worth roughly $41.

Bitcoin may be well off its all-time high today, but $9,233.25 is still a record for Bitcoin Pizza Day. In fact, it’s almost $10 million more than the 2017 price of $82,306,400.

Bitcoin Pizza Day
That’s $5.7 million per slice (Photo: Bitcointalk)

While that is likely one of the worst investment choices in history, it was also one of the best investments for the Bitcoin project as a whole. The first known retail purchase using Bitcoin marked the moment Satoshi Nakamoto’s dream of creating a cryptocurrency—real, usable-for-buying-stuff, digital money—became a reality. 

Bitcoin Pizza Day
A Pyrrhic victory (Photo: Bitcointalk).

And his fellow Bitcointalk Forum users recognized it. One, Sirius, responded, “Congratulations laszlo, a great milestone reached.”

Another forum member ribuck, asked: “Will this become the world’s first million-dollar pizza?”

Bitcoin Pizza Day
Prescient, if a little short of the mark (Photo: Bitcointalk)

Bitcoin Pizza Day 2020: Piping hot

But it’s more than that. As Modern Consensus’ Brendan Sullivan noted last year, Bitcoin Pizza Day “is a good way to check the Bitcoin community’s temperature.”

Bitcoin Pizza Day
Why yes, Brendan does think he’s expensing that pizza… (Photo: Brendan Sullivan’s girlfriend).

Which is pretty good right now, considering that a worldwide pandemic has made it pointless to order two pizzas unless you have a lot of kids to feed.

But then, there’s a lot to celebrate:

  1. Bitcoin futures are being sold by Bakkt and CME—which are owned by the parent companies of the venerable New York Stock Exchange and Chicago Mercantile Exchange, respectively.
  2. You can buy coffee at Starbucks and pretty much anything edible at Whole Foods for bitcoins; Or get a bitcoin-denominated Visa debit card and buy pretty much anything you like.
  3. Bitcoin and other digital assets are becoming an important part of the economy in places like Venezuela, which is suffering hyperinflation, and Iran, struggling under crippling sanctions.
  4. Bitcoin is even funding the creation of nuclear weapons in North Korea, which has reportedly made a cottage industry of hacking exchanges. (Maybe don’t celebrate this one, but it is important.)
  5. Other blockchain-based cryptocurrencies like Ethereum and Hyperledger are revolutionizing everything from monitoring food shipments to tracking half the world’s shipping containers to keeping blood diamonds off the market.
  6. One of the world’s 10 largest banks, JPMorgan Chase, has built its own cryptocurrency, the JPM Coin.
  7. The financial industry is facing a massive disruption, from international payments cryptocurrencies like XRP and cUSD to back-end systems like SWIFT.
  8. China is winning a race with many countries, including the EU, to create its own central bank-issued digital currency. And its leader, Xi Jinping, has called for the country “to take the leading position in the emerging field of blockchain” 
  9. Cryptocurrencies are important enough to be discussed by worried central bankers, international financial bodies, and government leaders.
  10. The Facebook-founded and funded Libra stablecoin is considered enough of a threat to the world financial order and economic stability that governments from the EU to the U.S. to China are trying to kill it.

Which leaves us with one lingering question: How much do all the people who were in that Bitcointalk forum on May 22, 2010, enjoy Bitcoin Pizza Day after not buying Hanyecz those pies?

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Leo Jakobson, Modern Consensus editor-in-chief, is a New York-based journalist who has traveled the world writing about incentive travel. He has also covered consumer and employee engagement, small business, the East Coast side of the Internet boom and bust, and New York City crime, nightlife, and politics. Disclosure: Jakobson has put some 401k money into Grayscale Bitcoin Trust.