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Analyzing Hillman Library’s ‘No Hot Food’ Propaganda

With finals week around the corner, Pitt students who haven’t opened a book all semester are returning to the world of academia. At the hub of the action is the glorious, cramped, freshmen-packed, outlet-free, Bio-TA-meeting HQ that it is Hillman Library.

As unpleasant as the library may be, it represents a necessary evil for those needing to give the impression of studiousness. Those partaking in Hillman Homecoming 2018, however, have been greeted with this shocking manifesto:

The signage can be found at nearly every table in the library. The message has been met with controversy, as most Pitt students will agree that hot, stinky, greasy heaps of fried cheese are the only true brain foods. What is the ground floor of Hillman if not a potluck for the stressed and unmotivated?

Policy-based controversy aside, the signs raise pivotal questions about the nature of propaganda on Pitt’s campus. Many have expressed confusion toward the “No Hot Food” movement’s mascot: a slice of pizza who’s 2 cool 4 skool. Who is this slice of pizza, and what are they supposed to represent? 

First and foremost, we must unpack the intricacies of the pizza’s schema. We can likely gather that, as pizza is a hot food, the shade-wearing slice represents that which is wrong with Hillman society. He is not a mascot, but a cautionary tale.

This theory explains his downtrodden expression. The downward curvature of his bell-pepper mouth indicates an acceptance of his failure as a food source.

His eyebrows, which are also inexplicably bell peppers, arch inward in an angry fashion. We cannot see his eyes, because of the sunglasses–what is he trying to shield from us?

His portrait indicates that he is floating in a purple sky. A white halo shines above his crusted head, sending pixelated rays of heavenly light cascading down. Is he coming down to join us, to inform us of the errors of his hot-food lifestyle? Or is he ascending to join his pizza brethren in some higher plane of existence?

One can infer the answer through artistic interpretation. Observe the directionality of the beams of light, and how they all point toward a common source:

The halo originates at the crust of the pizza. The crust is the last part of the pizza that is eaten–hell, some even throw it away. Halos, of course, symbolize purity and all that is good. So, according to the picture, to finish a pizza–that is, whittle it down to the crust–is good. It’s the highest attainable level of human existence.


But this pizza slice in the picture–this poor, troubled pizza slice–has not been eaten. Because according to his poster, hot food isn’t cool. Perhaps that’s why he is placed within a box. He stands apart from the message society is telling us. He represents a different path, a better path.

His sunglasses are placed above what are likely pepperoni eyeballs to hide the pain he holds in his mozzarella soul. The pizza slice is not a cautionary tale at all, he is a prisoner of the culinary expectations of Hillman Library.

Students of the University of Pittsburgh, we must stand against this kind of propaganda. The artwork speaks for itself. The designer of this poster was clearly relaying a message between the pixelated lines of text: DO NOT obey these oppressive rules. Seek a better path and consume the hot food. Do it not for yourselves, but for the betterment of our school as a collective. Finally, do it for the pizza. Join us, and #FreeTheSlice. 

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