The Innovative Technology Totino's Came Up With

Totino's frozen pizza is not necessarily going to offer you the authentic, Italian taste that you might be craving in a pizza (and there are many other frozen pizzas that simply rank higher in our opinion). That said, if you happen to be in the freezer aisle of your supermarket staring down the increasingly vast selection of frozen pizzas, you could do worse than to pick up a box of Totino's, especially if you are someone who cares about how crispy their frozen pizza crust turns out after heating. That's because Totino's frozen pizzas are nothing if not reliably crispy (assuming you follow the directions on the package, of course), and they have been since at least as far back as 1979 (via General Mills' Taste of General Mills blog). 

How can we be sure? Because that's the year the company was awarded a U.S. patent for their innovative "fried dough product and method" (via U.S. Patent Office) of achieving a reliably crisp crust. And that innovative technology that Totino's came up with made Totino's the "OG" of crisp frozen pizza crusts. And nothing can take that away — not even what happened in 2018. 

In 2018, Totino's patent for crispy frozen pizza crust expired

A "patent" means the exclusive right to commercialize either an invention or a novel method of doing something — ahem, such as a method for ensuring that frozen pizza crust comes out of the oven crispy, according to AVOO. A patent is granted to the inventor by the federal government, but only for a limited period, so as not to hinder further innovation using the patented technology. Totino's, which had been acquired by Pillsbury in 1975 (via General Mills' Taste of General Mills blog), filed a patent application for the novel method invented by Totino's — or, judging by the "inventor" specified on the patent application, more likely by the mom and pop team that started the whole Totino's business, Rose and Jim Totino (via USPTO). 

The patent was granted to the inventors in 1979 and was subsequently assigned to Pillsbury where, over the years, it got trotted out a few times in federal court (i.e., very prestigious), including that time when Jeno's accused Totino's of having stolen the crisp crust technology from Jeno's (via Time). Obviously, that didn't stick. But what did stick is the fact that, at the time Totino's got the patent, patents expired after 21 years. So that's what happened in the case of Totino's patent for crisp crust technology.