This whole blue steel pan stuff has been bugging me, especially trying to find out who makes all of the pans for Buddy's, Shield's, Jet's, and so on. However, after doing more research, and a bunch of phone calls, I think I have resolved the mystery. But, first, a little history.
The company that was making the blue steel pans for pretty much the entire square pan pizza industry in the metro Detroit area is a small company in Follansbee, West Virginia that has been around since 1833 making and selling a wide range of very mundane and prosaic products. The name of the company is Dover Parkersburg. I was given their name by an industry insider but I was able to find reference to them in a media piece at http://detroit.cbslocal.com/2011/01/25/pizza-parlors-report-pan-shortage/
. Apparently Dover decided to move production of the pans to Mexico. It sounds like they were having production problems. Those problems were apparently resolved but, in the meantime, a severe shortage of the pans developed.
Yesterday, to see if Dover recovered from all of their production woes and was back in business selling the blue steel pans, I went to the Dover website. After poking around the website for several minutes trying to find the pans, I found what I thought were the blue steel pans, buried under the heading "Utility Items/"Utility Trays" at http://www.doverparkersburg.com/products/utility_items.html
. To be sure that I found the right pans, this morning I called Dover and was told that they are indeed the pans. With further probing on my part, the woman I spoke with in customer service told me that they have been the suppliers of the pans to Buddy's, Shield's, Jet's, and pretty much everyone else that makes the Detroit-style pan pizza. Not only that, they are the supplier to P.A. Products, their distributor in the metro Detroit area. P.A. Products, in turn, is the supplier to Northern Pizza Equipment. I might add at this point that Dover does not sell direct to the public. They deal only through distributors and manufacturer reps.
For our members who are interested in the blue steel pizza pans, there are several options. They can order them online from Northern Pizza Equipment. After speaking with Maria at P.A. Products, I discovered that they will sell individual units to individuals but there is a two-tier pricing system. If you tell her that you are a pizza operator or in the pizza business, there is one price. If you tell her that you are just a home pizza maker, there is a second, higher price. She admitted that she operates on the honor system and cannot tell whether someone is in the pizza business or not. With P.A. Products, you have to call to order. The two-tier pricing structure for the pans is as follows:
8" x 10": $4.95/$9.16
10"x 14": $5.95/$10.96
12" x 17": $7.95/$14.10
(Plus UPS shipping)
The prices from Northern Pizza Equipment are as follows (from http://www.northernpizzaequipment.com/bluesteelpans.html
8" x 10": $6.54
10" x 14": $7.82
12" x 17": $10.07
Note: There is a $25 minimum purchase requirement
I believe that I may have also found a third source of the pans, Bucket Outlet, at http://www.bucket-outlet.com/upan.htm
. I found them through a Google search. To be sure that the pans shown at their website are from Dover, I called Bucket Outlet this morning (800-251-8824). I was told that the pans are indeed from Dover. The 8" x 10" pans are not in stock at the moment (they believe they will have them in stock in July). The prices for the 10" x 14" and 12" x 17" pans are as follows:
10" x 14": $7.99
12" x 17": $10.49
Since Maria at P.A. Products recognizes my voice by now, and I am not so desperate as to use voice modification (like my favorite falsetto voice) to save a couple of bucks, I would perhaps go to Northern for any blue steel pans that I might want to purchase. Also, I would buy the matching plastic lids manufactured by Pizzapanlids (http://www.pizzapanlids.com/
). Those are the lids used by Jet's. P.A. Products does not sell the plastic lids, only the aluminum ones. The Pizzapanlids are used by Jet's. Buddy's does not use them. They apparently cross-stack their pans.
As a further clarification of what I posted on the gauge of the pans in my last post, I was told this morning by Dover that their pans are 30 gauge. Maria told me this morning that they are 29 gauge. I have edited my last post to reflect the correction.
Hopefully, the mystery has been solved once and for all.
EDIT: Edited to note that there is a $25 minimum purchase requirement at Northern Pizza Equipment
EDIT 1 (8/7/12): Members should note that Northern Pizza Equipment is no longer stocking the blue steel pans (see Reply 401 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,3783.msg190814.html#msg190814);
they should also check with P.A. Products to see if they continue to offer those pans.