A southern New Jersey pizzeria owner says pizza boxes that depict Pope Francis and welcome him to Philadelphia are in poor taste.
Anthony Marino sent the boxes back to Savona-Stavola Food packing in West Deptford when they arrived at Marino's Pizza in Harrison, New Jersey, Marino told NJ.com.
"I'm a Roman Catholic, so when I saw his face on the box, to me it seemed this is a guy who is not into that kind of stuff,'' Marino said. "And the fact is that not everybody is a Roman Catholic.''
Marino said the drawing of the pope and Philadelphia skyline with "Welcome Pope Francis'' and "Philadelphia 2015'' written on the box wasn't right.
Savona-Stavola's marketing director, Amanda Farese, said the box was designed as a fun way to commemorate the pope's visit on Sept. 26-27, and people are going to pizzerias just to get the boxes as a collector's item.
"It was just fun to do,'' Farese said. ``We didn't raise prices (and) we are selling pizza boxes anyway, and ... it (was) just a fun way to do something special.''
Though Marino is against the pontiff-themed boxes, Not Just Pizza owner John Maniscalco told the Courier-Post many customers are coming into his New Jersey and Philadelphia pizza shops looking for the boxes.
"Our pizza has always been great, but now it's just blessed,'' said Maniscalco, who owns Not Just Pizza. "It's a phenomenon.''
Since the boxes became available last month, the company has had trouble keeping them stocked in the warehouse. Pizzerias in southern New Jersey and Philadelphia will be offered the boxes throughout the month.
Savona-Stavola's papal pizza box is part of a number of pope-themed merchandise that has cropped up in the region.