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‘Un-Break My Heart’: An Ode To Gumby’s Pizza

After warming the hearts and filling the stomachs of Penn Staters for over three decades, Gumby’s Pizza has closed its doors permanently. Dumbstruck by a handwritten sign that might as well have read “It’s not you, it’s me,” I’m heartbroken by the sudden, unexplained end of an era.

Ghosted by my favorite food chain, I’m now learning one of life’s lessons the hard way: Breaking up is hard to do, folks.

My friends had warned me that college would bring my first real heartbreak. As I reached for the phone this weekend to hit Gumby’s line, I suddenly understood that the moment had come. 

Left hungry and angry — hangry, if you will — I’m desperate for some closure. A place named after a talking stick of gum alongside his happy pet horse didn’t exactly strike me as a heartbreaker, after all. Yet, the devastation is real for so many right now.

Un-break my heart, Gumby’s, because this parting really is such sweet sorrow. 

With your Christmas-inspired combination of red and green flags, your charm undoubtedly contributed to my collegiate peace and prosperity. Nevertheless, I will always love you for your best qualities: great ambiance, enduring spirit, and natural lovability.  

There’s also your undeniable, best-of-the-best offering and my one true love: The World Famous Pokey Stix. 

“Hand-tossed pizza dough covered with butter and fresh garlic and smothered with mozzarella cheese.” Available in sizes ranging from small to “massive.”

Reviewing my ordering history with tears in my eyes, I’m in Spain without the “s,” Gumby’s, and you’re nowhere to be found. I thought we were good together, but now I’m wracking my brain for what went wrong. 

Maybe we got lost in translation? Maybe I asked for too much?

While I’m no lyricist like Taylor Swift, I really do believe you belong with me in State College. No relationship is perfect, but I made an exception for ours through all our ups and downs. 

Adding salt to the wound, you used to be there for me, too. 

During my freshman year in the height of a global pandemic, you were just one call away. A knight in shining armor on horseback, you whisked me away from a fifth night of grilled chicken thigh halal and deep into the Happy Valley sunset. 

When I was a sophomore, trapped in a roommate situation comparable to the underworld itself, you became my comfort food in uncomfortable quarters and made a dorm room a home. Boy, I was grateful to leave the shared shoebox to meet you in the wee hours of the night. 

Today, I’m a junior living downtown, meaning that we should be closer than ever. I dreamed you would be the connection to last a lifetime, or at the very least, until my senior year. 

But now there’s a gaping, Pokey Stix-sized hole in my life. No matter the struggle, you made dinner as easy as (pizza) pie, solving any problem with tomato sauce, cheesy garlic, and an absurd amount of carbs.

Where else could I possibly find this priceless support for a humble fee of $12.99? 

Well, in the harshest reality — if we’re really looking at the numbers — there might be some alternative available for under $20. Downtown offers a very solid roster of nachos covered in Yallah Sauce, Uncle Chen’s lo mein, and El Jefe’s overstuffed burrito, all waiting to step up to win first place in my heart. 

But who am I kidding, Gumby’s? While sometimes I might look into their eyes, I’m still just catching a glimpse of us.

Better yet, my single heart beats heavy only for you, and I’m trying to be brave while learning another important lesson: If you love something, let it go. If it doesn’t return, it was never yours. 

Your move, lover. But if you’re open to suggestions or even just open at all, perhaps a fresh box of Pokey Stix dropped outside my door would be the perfect olive branch.

And while the pressure of Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, there’s no need to be shy. At this point, I’d take “just friends” over nothing at all.  

So, my dearest Gumby’s, it’s time to come home. 

The State College kids miss you. 

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About the Author

Lizzie Palmieri

Lizzie is a junior majoring in marketing and psychology from Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Ask her about Disney World, Diet Pepsi, or dancing on the Jumbotron at Beaver Stadium. When not causing general trouble, Lizzie enjoys playing golf, performing in the theatre, and being the CEO of reorganizing the fridge. Her favorite thing to do is hang out with her sassy sidekick, 18-year-old Italian Greyhound, Macaroni. Follow her on Twitter @lizziepalmieri if your deepest desire is bestie vibes only.

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