Last Updated:
Sept. 20, 2010

Gumby's clay fusion

by Cathy Jenkins, posted Sept. 20, 2010

Gumby’s has mastered a specific craving with an invention to satisfy every college student's late-night food fantasy: the clay fusion.

In 1985, two frat boys named Chance Hippler and Jeff O’Brien founded Gumby’s Pizza in Gainesville, Fla. These men had big dreams and big goals. So big that they convinced their parents to allow them to drop out of college for a semester. Little did they know that would be the best decision they had ever made.

Now with a multi-million dollar company, the cartoon-inspired pizza place they founded has about 25 chains in college towns throughout the United States, including Columbia, Mo.

Noah Schmidt, general manager and historian of Gumby’s, gave the inside scoop on this pizza parlor. Gumby’s in Columbia is one of two chains that are privately owned and it is the creator of the wonderful ‘clay fusion’ option on the menu.

“The clay fusion started here on MU campus in 1999,” Schmidt said.
The interesting part is that the question of who invented the fusion is a Gumby’s mystery. Schmidt said that by popular demand of bread sticks and pizza, someone at work decided to fuse the two together and the clay fusion was born. So, instead of ordering just a pizza, one half of the pie is a pizza and the other half is bread sticks. Among the clay fusion options, the No. 1 best seller is the pepperoni pizza.

“But pizza rolls are the best kept secret,” Schmidt said. “But don’t tell anybody because it’s a secret.”

Otis Spunkmeyer cookies were added to the menu about a year ago for all the cookie lovers.

“We’ve always had our own personality so we try to keep the mom-and-pop feel inside of our place,” Schmidt said. “College students love cheap food so we try to provide them with that as best as we can.”

{back to homepage}