STATEWIDE – We’re all officially sick of pandemic pizza. After months and months and months of pizza delivery, during all the stay-at-home orders, the pizza chains have reported enormous sales and profits. But now the Associated Press says the mega-chains, like Domino’s and Papa John’s, are reporting flatter sales in the fourth quarter – despite it being football season. And why? We all want to eat something else, darn it, and many more restaurants are now offering at-home delivery or are working with third parties, like DoorDash. Now don’t misunderstand: pizza joints are still thriving. It’s just that the competition is getting thicker, as restaurants realize delivery is the key to survival over these long months. And who doesn’t love Lobster Thermidor at the door?

STATEWIDE – If you bake a cookie at home and dare to sell it, you are a criminal and could face fines. Home-based bakers are ticked-off, demanding reform and questioning why the state is the only one in the country that bans the sale of homemade food items. The Asbury Park Press says that home bakers want the law repealed, noting people trying to make a living at home should not face cease and desist orders. Renting a commercial kitchen is not feasible for many, as hourly rates could be as high as $30 and – subsequently – who is going to buy a $10 brownie? You could see why the state has the law, protecting people, blah, blah, blah. But when it takes eight hours to create a wedding cake in a commercial kitchen, how can a small-time baker squeeze a profit? And does all the back-alley baking really protect the public? 

ATLANTIC CITY – Now, what to do with all that rubble from Trump Plaza. There was talk about using the construction material as an artificial reef. But, just as all that concrete and steel failed as a profitable casino, it also would fail to help sustain marine life. The Beach Haven Charter Fishing Club, for one, notes that there is “very little usable material” and it makes no sense to try to separate out the rubble, the Press of Atlantic City reports. So, the imploded casino continues to remain trash.

BRIEFING BREATHER

The average American gets 31 prank phone calls during her or his lifetime.

LONG BRANCH – Presidents have slept here, there and everywhere. But a house of worship where seven pious U.S. presidents prayed? That’s certainly a local landmark worth saving, right? The local Historical Museum Association thinks so. It’s now trying to sell a vacant Ocean Avenue lot, next to the “Church of the Presidents” so it has the cash to continue renovating this lovely old Episcopal church. The group’s director tells the Asbury Park Press this sale “is a must” because state aid for historic restoration is drying up. The church is significant because shore-loving presidents like Ulysses Grant, Rutherford Hayes, James Garfield, Chester Arthur, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley and Woodrow Wilson all reportedly worshiped there. Who knew there were so many Jersey-based presidential Episcopalians?

HOWELL – Stop the howling in Howell? That’s what Mayor Theresa Berger wants, demanding local officials be friendlier and more open with the public. The mayor wants to revive the town’s ethics board, dissolved 18 years ago. Berger told the Town Council this week that she’s “seen such nasty things (done) to residents, and comments to residents, from people in the political arena … it's despicable.” The Asbury Park Press says Berger believes restoring a local ethics panel would restore public confidence in Town Hall. Howell had an ethics board for six years until the Republican-controlled council disbanded it in 2003, claiming the state could do a better job addressing local complaints, for some reason.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

ALL OVER – Who would have thought that Mr. Potato Head, the toy that has entertained generations of kids with his interchangeable protruding ears, cartoonish schnoz and porn star mustache, would be thrust into a social media firestorm? But after Hasbro announced plans to rebrand the universal toy and his female counterpart as gender-neutral “Potato Heads,” opponents call it inclusion run amok and said it was a stunt to get more, ahem, eyes on this toy. To which a Hasbro spokesperson told Rolling Stone that times are a-changin' and get over it. Stay tuned - this story has legs (and arms.)

ORLANDO, FLA – Two 20-something women, “dressed as grannies,” were nabbed when they shuffled into a county vaccination site for their second injections. ABC News says the women were disguised in hairnets, thick glasses and gloves as they tried to get their second doses. A vigilant sheriff officer unmasked the odd-looking duo and booted these zoomers, saying: “If you come back, you’ll be arrested. You're lucky you're not being arrested now." Officials are red-faced. These scammers apparently already fooled them once: Both had valid vaccination cards to show they got their first vaccine dose at that very same center. 

WORD OF THE DAY

Megillah – [muh-GHIL-uh] – noun

Definition: an elaborate, complicated story or sequences of event

Example: Did you try to read the entire megillah last night?

WIT OF THE DAY

“Alexander Hamilton started the U.S. Treasury with nothing and that was the closest our country has ever been to being even.”

-Will Rogers

BIDEN BLURB

“You get a tax break for a racehorse, why in God's name couldn't we provide an $8,000 tax credit for everybody who has childcare costs?”

-Joe Biden

WEATHER IN A WORD

Dry