On May 22, 2010, two pizza pies were bought by a person named Laszlo Hanyecz. While the pies themselves were mundane, the transaction was revolutionary—they were bought with 10,000 bitcoins, worth roughly $41 at the time. Now that one purchase gages the health of the entire $258 billion cryptocurrency market.
Of course, that wasn’t always the case. So when Dutch programmer Merijn Bellekom quietly launched the Twitter bot @bitcoin_pizza in 2015, he didn’t know it would blossom into a $100 million meme.
Every day at 7:14pm ET, Bellekom’s bot publishes the value of 10,000 bitcoins—what Hanyecz paid for those two pizza pies in 2010—to Twitter using current prices.
“The bot was gaining a lot of new followers when the bitcoin price hit certain milestones, like $5,000, $10,000 etc,” Merijn told Modern Consensus. As of Friday there were over 6,000 users tracking the value of a single 2010 purchase of two pizzas for BTC 10,000 that many consider the first bitcoin purchase.
“I ran across @bitcoinprice a few times and it seemed like an objective gauge of bitcoin worth because it averaged the current price across multiple exchanges,” Bellekom said. “I’d been playing with the idea of making a similar bot, but inspiration hit when I heard about the story of Laszlo [Hanyecz] demonstrating a ‘real-world’ bitcoin payment by paying someone 10,000 bitcoin to essentially purchase two pizzas and have them delivered to him.”
The purchase quickly became a meme and later gave the crypto community its first feasting holiday. With May 22 just around the corner, it’s time to check in on what makes one of cryptocurrency’s earliest transactions such a great blessing to your timeline. The community has come a long way since then.
How it went down
On May 18, 2010 a software programmer named Laszlo Hanyecz posted on the Bitcointalk message boards that he would trade 10,000 bitcoins for two pizzas. The coins then traded on obscure exchanges for fractions of a cent. On May 22 of that year another user took him up on this and 10,000 bitcoins were exchanged for pizza. “This is an open offer by the way,” he posted at the time when other users noted that 10,000 bitcoins would fetch $41. “I will trade 10,000 BTC for 2 of these pizzas any time as long as I have the funds (I usually have plenty). If anyone is interested please let me know. The exchange is favorable for anyone who does it because the 2 pizzas are only about 25 dollars total, maybe 30 if you give the guy a nice tip.”
Through the magic of a public ledger we can see that transaction truly went down a little after 6:15 p.m. on Saturday, May 22, 2010. A student named Jeremy Sturdivant contacted him on Internet Relay Chat and soon he had two Papa Johns pizzas at his home in Florida.
Hanyecz says he bought several bitcoin pizzas over the years. Both parties in the transaction seemed satisfied: “I heard from one person who bought a house with their pizza bitcoins,” he later wrote. The story has made him a legend and put bitcoin on the map. One grateful user tracked down the old address in 2014 and sent him one bitcoin as a token of appreciation.
Pizza doesn’t hold it’s value as well as bitcoin
According to our latest Bitcoin Pizza bot figures: that pizza was worth $73,154,150 on Monday.
The #Bitcoin pizza is worth $73,154,150 today. (+2% from yesterday)
— Bitcoin Pizza 🍕 (@bitcoin_pizza) April 9, 2018
Like the original pizza purchase, Bellekom launched the bot just for a laugh in January 2015. “Back then, 10,000 bitcoin wasn’t much, but now it is. I looked up which bitcoin exchanges had an rss or xml feed and wrote a Twitter bot that fetched the current price daily, averaged it and tweeted it out.” At launch that pizza was worth $2,187,820.
The #Bitcoin pizza is worth $170,114,950 today. (+11% from yesterday)
— Bitcoin Pizza 🍕 (@bitcoin_pizza) January 6, 2018
It’s impossible to predict what that pizza will cost this May. In January 2018 that pizza reached an all time high of $170,313,375.
The #Bitcoin pizza is worth $20,509,958 today. (-0.15% from yesterday) Today is Bitcoin pizza day!
— Bitcoin Pizza 🍕 (@bitcoin_pizza) May 22, 2017
It’s a good reminder that good times come and go but inevitably, are better times ahead. Today, instead of kicking myself for not unloading my XRP back when it peaked, I’m really enjoying thinking about how that pizza must have tasted to the miner who first fired up some weirdo program and leveraged it to make a pizza appear out of thin air.
It’s also helpful to note the swings. On Bitcoin Pizza Day in 2011, 10,000 bitcoin cost $81,400. By 2012 that went down to $51,200, but then shot up to $1,276,600 in 2013. It then spiked to $5,085,900 in 2014 before tumbling down to $2,364,400 in 2015 and $4,732,000 in 2016. Last bitcoin Pizza Day, it went for $20,509,958.
Last we heard from Hanyecz, he still buys pizzas with bitcoin. Only this time on the Lightning network.
But three years of watching pizza priced in millions of dollars hasn’t changed Bellekom or his opinion of cryptocurrencies: “I haven’t invested in bitcoin (and will not),” he said. “But it’s a lot of fun to watch.”