Ordering a ‘pepperoni pizza’ on 911 isn’t a secret code, police say, despite meme

Pizza Hut plans to close and relocate 450 of its restaurants.
Pizza Hut plans to close and relocate 450 of its restaurants. Associated Press file photo

A popular social media meme instructs 911 callers to pretend to order a “pepperoni pizza” to sneakily alert dispatchers that someone’s listening to the call.

Don’t try it, police say.

There’s no such secret code and pretending to order a pizza via 911 could confuse dispatchers instead of alerting them to a dangerous situation.

“We would never encourage anyone to say they’re ordering a pizza,” Steve Smith of the Albany, N.Y., Police Department told WTEN. “It would probably be perceived as a prank call.”

One version of the meme, which has been circulating on Facebook and Twitter, reads, “If you need to call 911 but are scared to because of someone in the room, dial and ask for a pepperoni pizza. They will ask if you know you’re calling 911. Say yes, and continue pretending you’re making an order.” The meme further advises callers to respond to yes or no questions from the dispatcher and to ask when the pizza will be delivered to find out when police are expected to arrive.

“Share this to save a life!!!” the meme urges.

The Los Angeles Police Department posted a response to the meme on Twitter reading, “LAPD Communications has seen this graphic circulating on various social media channels. This is false. Text to 911 is a much better option. Your exact location & the nature of your emergency is what’s needed to send the right resources.”

The Bremer County Sheriff’s Department in Iowa responded to the meme on Facebook as well.

“Calling 911 and asking for a pepperoni pizza is not some secret-squirrel, coded message that tells the call-taker that you are in trouble,” reads the post. “Asking for pineapple on your pizza does not mean that someone has a weapon. Besides, pineapple never goes on pizza! No, never. This is an indisputable fact. #SorryNotSorry.”

“Contrary to popular belief, there is not a Pizza Topping Academy of Emergency Call-Taking. (PTAECT),” the post continues, advising callers instead to set down the phone if they can’t speak safely to dispatchers. “Dispatchers are trained to see with their ears. Everything that happens on that open line will allow the call-taker to keep the deputies that are enroute updated on the situation.”

The pepperoni pizza meme appears to originate from a 2015 Reddit thread in which a 911 dispatcher told the story of how a woman fooled her abuser by calling 911 and pretending to order a pizza. The incident was dramatized in a public service announcement on domestic violence that aired during the 2015 Super Bowl.

The story resurfaced in the form of an online meme in December, reported Snopes.