Unitasker Wednesday: Beehive pizza oven

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

Wood-fired pizza is pretty yummy. Actually, any pizza is pretty good in my opinion, but wood-fired seems to give pizza a delicious taste that a conventional oven just doesn’t achieve. So why not invest in the Beehive Pizza Oven from Williams-Sonoma? Well, the price tag ($2000) may make you reconsider. 

I don’t know, but at this price, wood-fired pizza may be something left to the professionals with their wood-fired ovens in their restaurants. Honestly, ovens in restuarants probably cost less than this gem.

From the product description:

Bring the pleasures of cooking in a terra-cotta, wood-fire oven to your backyard or deck. Wonderful for entertaining, this authentic European oven can bake everything from crisp-crusted pizzas and rustic breads to juicy roast chicken with a crackling golden skin. It’s very easy to use: Start by building a wood fire on the oven floor; when it reaches the desired temperature, push back the coals to expose a superheated baking surface.

Yeah, I know that you can bake other goodies in this thing, but I’m committed to its Unitasker distinction. It is a rather poor excuse for spending $2000 on an “entertaining” way to bake a pizza in your back yard.

43 Comments for “Unitasker Wednesday: Beehive pizza oven”

  1. posted by Kalle on

    Thanks for returning to the previous version of the disclaimer. There’s no way to prevent people from misunderstanding anyway, if they choose not to pay attention.

    Besides, it’s funny when they misunderstand. There has to be some value in that.

  2. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Kalle — Ooops, that was a mistake. The new disclaimer was supposed to be at the top. We’ve actually noticed a HUGE decrease in confused e-mails about Unitaskers since we made the change. We’ve reduced it to fewer than five a week, which is about a hundred less.

  3. posted by Tiffany on

    But I was always so amused by people who didn’t get the joke.

    In any case, we are huge fans of cooking in our backyard, and I’m pretty sure we could get a similar effect out of sticking a big ol’ terra cotta flower pot upside down on our grill. And you can get those from a home improvement store for a lot less than $2K.

  4. posted by becoming minimalist on

    what? these have been jokes…

  5. posted by Sian on

    I know a few professional (and very enthusiastic amateur) chefs who love oven-baked pizza (etc) so much that they’ve had more beautiful (and cheaper) versions of this built in their gardens (Jamie Oliver has one I know), but it’s a ridiculous unitasker for most people nevertheless, especially at this price.

    I love the way the ad talks about “authentic european”-authentic italian I could understand, they do do pizzas very well(!) but if it were authentic most other european countries (UK, Scandinavia) then it may as well be authentic american-in fact the latter would probably be better with all those descendants of italian immigrants!

  6. posted by honestb on

    Honestly, from my perspective as a regular baker of bread, the thing sounds kind of cool, but realistically I wouldn’t really use something that involves building a wood fire every use, and it’s wildly overpriced.

    And as Tiffany mentioned above, you can get much the same effect from a terracotta pot (or some other cheap baking stone substitute – I’ve heard of people using granite tiles) on the grill. You may still end up with fire-baking related clutter, but at a much lower price point.

  7. posted by OogieM on

    A full masonry and rock wood fired oven is less than this overpriced gadget. And speaking as a friend of someone who built one, bread and pizza are just the beginning, they cook for a couple of days in the oven with graduated heat. From slow cooked roasts, to stews to all sorts of bread and cakes. If you are really into baking and wood fired cooking invest in a real one in your backyard.

  8. posted by Mo on

    Agree with the you could build a real one for less than this. A neighbor just did. Finished it in late summer. Did his thanksgiving turkey in it – claims it was wonderful. One of the nice things about these is that they work even in New England winters. As long as the chef is willing to be out in the cold. And if they built a brick oven in their back yard they probably are.

  9. posted by Fit Bottomed Girls on

    $2,000? I’d rather go out for wood-fired pizza.

  10. posted by Some Dude on

    I wonder how hot you can get one of these things? I bake pizza at home quite a bit and my biggest challenge has always been finding ways to get the stone as hot as possible. I know many commercial wood fired ovens are in the 900º-1000ºF neighborhood and so far I haven’t found a way to break about 550º at home.

    Those of you mentioning terra cotta on the grill may be on to something. I never thought about throwing a baking stone over a pile of hot coals, but now I think I’ll give it a shot.

  11. posted by Brian on

    Not a unitasker as far as I’m concerned…I rather enjoy using a wood-fired oven. But $2K? Come off it…much easier and more fun to just build your own.


  12. posted by David on

    I’m fine with criticizing/making fun of unitaskers. However, the fact that this thing is overpriced does not make it a unitasker any more than the fact that it’s called a “pizza oven” does.

    This item would be suited for coverage by overpricedstuff.com’s “Overpriced Item of the Week” feature.

  13. posted by Oliver on

    Well, for the true gourmet, there is a huge difference between wood-fired pizza, and all other pizza. I make that distinction when I go out for pizza… (yes, I’m spoiled..)

    But it is still a unitasker, and still a ridiculous thing for 99% of the population to own.

    My house rules for unitaskers:
    No unitaskers, unless it is a unitasker that earns it’s keep through frequent use.

    (remember, a toothbrush is a unitasker)

    When the unitasker is small, like a garlic press or apple corer, using it several times a week can make it worth it’s space. (I use lots of garlic, and I use the apple corer for juicing apples – it saves me lots of time)

    When a unitasker is big, it better be an integral part of your life. Pizza must be one of your top life-passions, to validate this…

    And always re-evaluate your unitaskers to see if there’s a smaller, cheaper, simpler, or better solution. (I love espresso, but can’t justify the money or space for a big machine, so I use the much smaller and cheaper moka pots…. and still have delicious coffee every day)

  14. posted by Kalle on

    Erin, I understand your point. If you can unclutter your mailbox by a hundred confused emails a week, you should obviously do it. I’ll by sadden by the loss of amusing misunderstandings in the comments section, but I’ll learn to live without them, eventually.

  15. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Kalle — I’ve already received some LOVELY e-mails today because of our mistake. My favorite one so far:

    “Once again I find myself unsubscribing from your blog due to your narrow and somewhat stupid focus. Yes, I understand the unitasker message but your advocation of consumption as an answer to the rest of our clutter problems shows a real level of hypocrisy. A level that has become too difficult to read.”

    I love it when people call ME stupid when they are the ones who can’t even read the disclaimer at the bottom of the post.

    I do stand up comedy, and I often think of how ridiculous it would be if I had to notify the audience before I told every joke that I was telling a joke: “I’m going to tell a joke now. JOKE. And now I’m going to tell another joke. JOKE.” Ugh.

    Trust me, we loathe the disclaimer more than our readers.

  16. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Some Dude — Regarding making pizza at home …

    I have a Dacor convection oven that gets up to a solid 550 degrees. I preheat the oven with a pizza stone inside of it for at least 45 minutes, but usually an hour. I also let the oven sit at least 10 minutes between when I remove one pizza and put in another. It works amazingly well.

    If you don’t have it, let me recommend that you read Peter Reinhart’s book “American Pie.” I learned so much about making pizza at home from that book.

  17. posted by Oliver on


    I also make delicious pizza in my oven at home (one can do much better than most pizza places), but 550 can’t get do the same things to the crust that 900 in a wood-fire can.

    Don’t get me wrong, you can have delicious pizza, and most should be content with what they can do at home, but it is not the same.

  18. posted by Peter (a different one) on

    @Erin – Did I read your post correctly? You do stand up?

    I’d love to see that.

  19. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Oliver — I agree that a wood-fire oven in the backyard would be cool. Actually, really cool. But, in cases when that isn’t possible, a pizza stone and a convection oven still do better than all of our local pizza shops. Also, we’ve looked into building a wood-fired brick oven in our backyard and the cost didn’t come anywhere close to $2,000.

  20. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Peter – I do stand up … yes, you read that correctly. The stand up comedy scene in DC is actually pretty robust. I contend that LA, NYC, Chicago, and DC are the best spots in the country to see great live comedy almost every night of the week.

  21. posted by Chris Yi on

    Hey, wow, where in DC do you perform???

    Love the blog, by the way. Always have.

  22. posted by timgray on

    Wood fired pizza can be done easily in your back yard charcoal grill.

    Get mesquite briquettes go buy a few red wall bricks and a 16X16 piece of 1″ slate.

    build a big set of coals in your grill, set the slate in the middle above the fire. put bricks along the sides.

    let it all heat up for 30 minutes to 1 hour. put pizza on the stone, cover and cook.

    Works great. use real wood if your grill is big enough.

    Oh and no unitaskers. The slate can be used for 30 different cooking things or even a path paver when not in use.

  23. posted by Sarah S. on

    The eternal struggle of disclaimer posting is the ultimate example of people who do not make the time to complete the listening/ reading process, but are quite focused on vocalizing their discontent. I went on a cruise once; during the evacuation safety meeting, the staff noted not to put on the distributed vests, only the staff on stage would as a demonstration. This was repeated at least five times in the presentation but when it came to the demonstration, at least thirty people in the audience put on their vests.

  24. posted by Leonie on

    Well, that’s as clear a disclaimer as any…
    How on earth can that be construed as promoting consumerism?

    You might be better off when the level of stupidity decreases as these readers unsubscribe to the blog…

  25. posted by Greg on

    Try putting a couple brinks in your oven.

  26. posted by Rob on

    I’ve been using the unitasker as a gift giving guide. An authentic wood fired pizza for a mere $2k.. I’ll have to buy one for every member of the family.

  27. posted by cc on

    I am currently working on the plans for a wood pizza oven in my backyard. I plan on spending under $300 for the entire thing. That makes it a fun, unique indulgence. My group of friends tend to have backyards with a fun component to them. It makes it more fun when you have the treehouse bar in one yard, the adult sized jungle gym in another, and another has a hot tub. That said, I would NOT pay the price they’re asking and I honestly don’t know if I’d purchase one no matter the price. I think the fun of a pizza oven like this is the story of making it yourself.

  28. posted by Rad Harrell on

    I’ve got a Big Green Egg that does the same thing along side a ton of other roasting / smoking / grilling things. Pizza and breads are fun in the Egg. A bit of a specialized product I know but it really delivers on it’s promises.

  29. posted by mhb on

    @ Erin:
    “once again”? How many times has that particular person unsubscribed?

    Cool that you do stand-up… if you’re ever in Chicago, let us all know!

    And yeah… we’re planning to build an outdoor oven out of cob some day. The cost will probably be less than $100. And it will look better than this thing.

  30. posted by mhb on

    Also, I’m waiting for someone to jump on “we loathe the disclaimer more than our readers.”

    If you LOATHE us so much, why do you keep a BLOG???

    That was a joke. A joke. 🙂

  31. posted by JJ on

    I love unitasker Wednesday!

    We are lucky enough to have a bake oven in the wood fueled masonry heater we use to heat our home. It makes food taste great. We like to have our fires at night right before bed so we don’t always cook in it as the wait time can be up to three hours for it to cool to the correct temperatures. I would construct rather than buy one for out of doors however.

    @ Oliver: A toothbrush is a unitasker, but lives a reincarnated existence in our home. After its first life cleaning teeth, it goes on to be a cleaning brush, polisher, paint brush, etc. (after being clearly marked with permanent ink and stored with the appropriate items so there is no opportunity for confusion).

  32. posted by Erin Doland on

    @mhb — ACK!! What a horrible grammar mistake I made!! Please read it from this point forward as “more than our readers DO.” 🙂

  33. posted by Sue on

    Why would they need to “unsubscribe”? Why not just stop coming here? Wouldn’t that be easier?

  34. posted by Kay on

    If this thing was in the $100-$200 range, I would absolutely buy it. Wood-fired pizza? Slow-roasted meats? Rustic breads? Yum! But I like the idea of having one of these built in your backyard for a fraction of the asking price.

    Williams-Sonoma is great at overcharging its consumers. I think a lot of rich people (who probably don’t even know how to cook) furnish their homes with WS stuff because it’s a status thing. Kind of like buying designer handbags for the label.

  35. posted by Lazy_linchen on

    We used to have a built in pizza-oven in the kitchen of our last rental. The pizza was great, but it took about 4 hours to get the oven to the right heat.
    In the four years we lived there we used it about three times (only when we had guests) and usually in winter (so it heated our flat as well).
    When we moved, we thought about building an outdoor one, but since we still life in rentals, it’s not really worth it right now, and since reading this blog I begin to doubt whether I need one at all…

  36. posted by Adam Kuban on

    Not a unitasker: “… crisp-crusted pizzas and rustic breads to juicy roast chicken with a crackling golden skin … “

  37. posted by DJ on

    Heh. I think that pulling Unitaskers from Williams-Sonoma is like shooting fish in a barrel.

  38. posted by Dan N on

    That’s more than I paid for my first three cars combined. WOW!!!!!!

  39. posted by Laura on

    Well, I’ve been able to recycle toothbrushes for use as cleaning brushes– they get into small areas and they are pretty easy to clean up afterwards. Of course the supply of used toothbrushes widely exceeds the demand, especially in a multi-person household.

  40. posted by K on

    I was wondering about that! You loathe us!?? 😉

  41. posted by Adam Snider on

    I have to admit, this thing actually seems kind of cool. I would never buy it, because I know that wouldn’t use it often enough for it to amount to anything other than clutter, but if I had infinite money and infinite storage space, I would totally buy one of these.

  42. posted by Rosa on

    Laura, you can solve the too-many-old toothbrushes problem with these:


  43. posted by avis on

    @Oliver – “When the unitasker is small, like a garlic press or apple corer, using it several times a week can make it worth it’s space.”

    I couldn’t agree more. I have an apple slicer/corer (that silver ring with sections)that I use 5 days a week. Could I use a knife? Yes – but it would be a lot more hassle and take more time.

    And technically a vacuum is a unitasker. Do you not own one because it only does one thing? No – it’s the only way to do that thing as well as it does so you almost need one. I feel the same way about a waffle iron. It only does one thing but that one thing cannot be done by anything else in the house. If you never make waffles, then it’s a waste of space. If you make waffles on a regular basis, then it’s useful.

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