Thinking about the most expensive pizza ever that cost $16 million a slice might leave you daydreaming about the most lavish ingredients or details imaginable. Still, unless it involved sending a pizza to the moon, the cost wouldn't come close to a million dollars, let alone $16 million. Yet, the reality is quite the opposite.
The most expensive pizza slice in history, so to speak, was just like any other pizza whipped up by Papa John’s, a well-known American pizza franchise akin to Domino’s or Pizza Hut. This might sound like a riddle, but it's the fascinating origin story of the first-ever crypto purchase that cost a whopping 10,000 Bitcoins.
This historic transaction sparked what is now known as Bitcoin Pizza Day, a unique holiday celebrated within the crypto community that's akin to its own Thanksgiving, only this one happens on the 22nd of May each year.
With the 2023 Bitcoin Pizza Day concluded yesterday, let’s take a deeper look at the significance of the annual event and the story behind it, and explore how you too can join in the festivities during Bitcoin Pizza Day 2024.
The Story Behind Bitcoin Pizza Day
It all started over a decade ago in Jacksonville, Florida, with a man named Laszlo Hanyecz. As an early adopter and supporter of Bitcoin, Hanyecz wanted to prove that Bitcoin could be used for a practical, real transaction, which had yet to be done. Bitcoin was still in its infancy then, primarily used within a small online community and yet to be embraced by the wider world. It lacked something essential - a real-world transaction to prove its worth as a medium of exchange.
Recognizing this, Hanyecz decided to put his digital coins to use. On May 18, 2010, he posted on a Bitcoin forum, offering 10,000 Bitcoins for two large pizzas. His request was simple, "I like having leftover pizza to nibble on later. You can make the pizza yourself and bring it to my house or order it for me from a delivery place..."
Four days later, on May 22, a fellow enthusiast, Jeremy Sturdivant took up Hanyecz's offer. The British man, known online as Jercos, placed an order at a local Papa John's in Florida, paying with traditional currency, while Hanyecz transferred 10,000 Bitcoins to his digital wallet.
Since the purchase was made on May 22nd, 2010, this has since become a special holiday celebrated globally by lovers of Bitcoin, Web3, Defi, or any interest that uses digital assets as a form of payment.
Why is Bitcoin Pizza Day important?
At the time, the value of the 10,000 Bitcoins used to purchase the pizzas was around $41. Today, that amount is in the millions, a crazy $273 million to be exact according to the Bitcoin Pizza Index. This transaction wasn't just about getting a hot meal; it was about proving a point - that Bitcoin could be used for everyday transactions, just like any other currency. The first transaction served the purpose of price discovery, where two parties bartered and finally decided on a product (pizza) to exchange for a currency (Bitcoin).
From being a novelty to becoming an accepted mode of payment, Bitcoin has since then truly come a long way, with on and off-ramps available across thousands of banks, retailers and new payment systems such as Strike, Cashapp, and more.
Pizza Day remains a growing testament to Bitcoin's growth and the potential of decentralized finance. Each year as we celebrate Bitcoin Pizza Day,we're reminded of this first brave transaction and how far we've come since.
The Impact and Growth of Bitcoin
Since the first Bitcoin transaction, the cryptocurrency has gone through multiple milestones. Some of these milestones were outright wins for the users of Bitcoin and other digital currencies, but many were detrimental at the time and almost killed the crypto industry before it could fully mature into the over 1 trillion dollar industry it is today.
Regardless, each event below brought a lot of attention to how Bitcoin is both resilient to controversy and has come a long way since being created anonymously in 2009.
The Closure of Silk Road (October 2, 2013)
Silk Road, an online black-market platform, was one of the first places where Bitcoin gained real-world utility besides international pizza deliveries. However, its association with illicit activities and its subsequent closure by the FBI on October 2, 2013, posed a challenge to Bitcoin's image.
Bitcoin’s market cap dropped by 500 million, or 20%, immediately, but soon recovered, raising the question that perhaps closing the Silk Road was a gift to crypto lovers. Bitcoin received a new opportunity to build a positive reputation instead of a store of value for internet criminals.
The Mt. Gox Hack (2014)
Mt. Gox, once the world's largest Bitcoin exchange, faced a devastating hack in early 2014, leading to the loss of 740,000 Bitcoins (6% of all Bitcoins in existence at the time). This event, coupled with mismanagement issues, led to Mt. Gox filing for bankruptcy in February 2014.
While this event shook the cryptocurrency world and led to a significant drop in Bitcoin's price, it also resulted in increased regulatory scrutiny and improved security measures across cryptocurrency exchanges.
Bitcoin Halving Events (2012, 2016, 2020)
Bitcoin halving events, which occur approximately every four years, are significant milestones in Bitcoin's timeline. They reduce the reward for mining new blocks by 50%, effectively slowing the rate of new Bitcoin creation. These events, occurring in 2012, 2016, and 2020, have historically led to a surge in Bitcoin's price due to the decreased supply growth.
The Bull Run of 2020-2021
The period from late 2020 to early 2021 marked a major bull run for Bitcoin, with its value skyrocketing from around $10,000 to more than $60,000 within a few months. This was spurred by institutional investment from companies like Tesla and MicroStrategy. Bitcoin became increasingly seen as a legitimate investment and store of value.
Celebrating Bitcoin Pizza Day Globally
Every May 22, the global Bitcoin community commemorates this day by purchasing pizzas, often using Bitcoin as the mode of payment. Many pizza restaurants join in the festivities by offering discounts to customers paying in Bitcoin.
Bitcoin Pizza Day is not a national holiday anywhere, but a lot of events are hosted across the globe by crypto lovers or crypto-friendly organizations that want to help promote using Bitcoin as a form of payment.
Looking Ahead: The Future of Bitcoin
It might seem a bit of a stretch to say that two pizzas ended up costing a man from Florida the equivalent of $273 million in today's terms. However, it's undeniable that this pizza purchase significantly influenced Bitcoin's trajectory and is now celebrated as a quasi-holiday within the cryptocurrency community.
With some of the largest companies in the world accepting Bitcoin as payment for their goods and services, crypto has at least accomplished its initial goal, now acting as an investment vehicle or alternative to fiat currencies. As more industry-shaking events occur and flip crypto on its head, it's thrilling to imagine what Bitcoin and other digital assets will achieve in the next decade, or even in the next few years.
Events like Bitcoin Pizza Day, Genesis Block Day (3 January, also known as Proof of Keys Day) and 31 October’s Whitepaper Day, which celebrates the release of Satoshi Nakamoto’s Bitcoin whitepaper, remain important annual landmarks to stop by on the (cyclical) road to mass adoption, where we get to stretch our legs and look back to see how far the industry has come.
Happy Pizza Day!