Straight Up

Make a DIY Food Dehydrator out of your Pizza Box! Instructions and recipes for New Mexican Pizza Flakes blends inside!


Mark Stens Land

10/13/20224 min read

Title: "Straight Up Pizza: Tossing Up Tradition in the Heights"

In the bustling Northeast Heights of Albuquerque, there's a family affair that's been dishing out more than just pizza since 2009. Straight Up Pizza is the brainchild of Gary O’Canna and his sons, Randy and Travis, a trio whose combined 30-plus years in the pizza game have kneaded a legacy that’s as much about kinship as it is about crust and sauce.

Here, the dough is a family secret, made from scratch daily, and the marinara sauce is a homemade tradition. Randy, the co-general manager, puts it plainly: the pizza business is a kaleidoscope of days, no two ever alike, but it’s the family bond that elevates their pies from merely delicious to truly special.

Step into Straight Up Pizza and you’re stepping into a slice of O’Canna family history. The ambiance is an open invitation to the process, an open kitchen where the art of pizza making is on full display. It’s a throwback to the days when the sight of pizza dough spiraling into the air was enough to make any kid's day. It’s about the show, the smells, and the sizzle that turns waiting for your pizza into part of the experience.

But let’s cut to the chase: the menu at Straight Up Pizza is a roster of originals. With offerings like the Devil Dog Calzone and Chocolate Chip Cannoli, the O’Cannas aren’t afraid to mix things up. Their Spicy Marinara Sauce and Banana Peppers are a nod to those who like it hot, and let's not forget the Chupacabra Pizza—a legend in its own right, crowned as one of the top 50 delivery pizzas in the U.S. by none other than the Food Network.

In true New Mexican fashion, let's celebrate Straight Up Pizza for what it really is: a testament to the joy of pizza making, a tribute to family, and a cornerstone of the community. It’s not just about the food; it’s about the feeling of being right there in the kitchen, part of the family, part of the magic. So next time you're in the Heights, swing by Straight Up Pizza. Come for the spectacle, stay for the special—because here, every pizza is a piece of home.

Transform Your Pizza Box into a Food Dehydrator (AKA: Pizza Flakes Maker)

Stop throwing away produce!

Every year, Americans waste about 30-40% of their food supply, which then contributes to the 8% of global greenhouse gases that cause climate change. Let's save the planet one slice at a time and turn that old pizza box into a DIY food dehydrator! This hilariously easy project will transform your leftovers into delicious dried snacks.


- 1 large pizza box (clean, without grease – yes, that means ordering another pizza)

- Aluminum foil (to make it shiny like your future)

- Plastic wrap (because who doesn't love plastic?)

- Black construction paper (very goth, very functional)

- A utility knife or scissors (sharp objects: handle with care!)

- Tape (the universal fixer of all things)

- A small fan (optional, if you want to go high-tech)

- Wooden dowels or skewers (also optional, but let’s get fancy)

- Mesh or cheesecloth (to keep it all in place)


1. Prepare the Pizza Box:

Open that pizza box and line the inside with aluminum foil, shiny side up. This will reflect heat and make your box look like a science experiment. Cover the bottom of the box with black construction paper. This will absorb heat and add to the mystery.

2. Create a Window:

On the top of the pizza box lid, cut out a rectangular window, leaving about a 1-inch border around the edges. Make it artsy. Cover the window with plastic wrap and secure it with tape. This will allow sunlight in and create a greenhouse effect. Now your pizza box is officially smarter than your last smartphone.

3. Create Air Vents:

Cut small air vents on the sides of the pizza box to allow for airflow. You can make these by cutting small flaps and folding them back slightly. These vents are like your dehydrator’s nostrils.

4. Optional: Add a Fan:

If you have a small fan, place it near the air vents to enhance airflow. This will help to speed up the drying process and make you feel like an engineering genius.

5. Create Racks:

If you have wooden dowels or skewers, create racks to hold your food. Simply poke holes in the sides of the box and insert the dowels through the holes, creating a grid. Now it’s looking like a mini barbecue. Alternatively, use a piece of mesh or cheesecloth to lay your food on inside the box. It’s like a hammock for your snacks.

6. Place Your Food:

Arrange your food items on the racks or mesh, ensuring they are spread out evenly and not touching each other. Give them space to breathe – it’s yoga for your veggies.

7. Position Your Dehydrator:

Place the pizza box dehydrator in a sunny spot outside. The plastic wrap window should be facing the sun to maximize heat absorption. Your neighbors will be jealous of your eco-friendly contraption.

8. Monitor and Rotate:

Check on your food periodically and rotate the box if necessary to ensure even drying. You’re basically a helicopter parent for dehydrated snacks. Depending on the weather and the type of food, drying times can vary from several hours to a couple of days. Patience, grasshopper.

Dehydrating Specific Foods:

Red and Green Chiles:

Preparation: Wash and dry the chiles. Slice them into rings or halves, removing seeds if desired. Fun fact: Spicy foods can increase your metabolism by up to 8%! Drying Time: Chiles typically take 1-2 days to dry completely. They should be brittle and break easily when fully dehydrated.


Preparation: Wash and dry the tomatoes. Slice them into ¼ inch thick slices or cut cherry tomatoes in half. Did you know tomatoes are technically a fruit? Mind blown. Drying Time: Tomatoes can take 1-3 days to dry. They should be leathery and pliable when done.

Popular Herbs (e.g., Basil, Oregano, Thyme):

Preparation: Rinse herbs and pat dry. Remove leaves from stems if they are large. Herbs can improve memory by up to 75%. Okay, I made that up, but it sounds good! Drying Time: Herbs generally dry within 1 day. They should crumble easily when touched.

9. Enjoy Your Dehydrated Food:

Once your food is sufficiently dried, remove it from the dehydrator and store it in an airtight container. Congrats! You’ve just saved the planet one dehydrated snack at a time.

This DIY food dehydrator is an easy and cost-effective way to preserve your favorite foods using just a few household items. Happy drying, and remember, every little bit helps in the fight against climate change!