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Does the U.S. really need a National Pizza Week?

In 1986, Ronald Reagan -- intent on distracting voters from the simmering Iran-Contra affair - thought

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Which Pies to Eat During National Pizza Week

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Does the U.S. really need a National Pizza Week?

In 1986, Ronald Reagan -- intent on distracting voters from the simmering Iran-Contra affair - thought so. Agriculture Secretary Richard Lyng observed the first-ever pizza week by commissioning "Why I Like Pizza" essays from elementary school students and issuing a pizza fact sheet. But if the administration hoped to skirt controversy by focusing on everyone's favorite food, its plans were upended by the National Milk Producers Federation, which used the holiday as an occasion to lobby for laws restricting the use of fake cheese on frozen meat pizza.

The cheese fight has faded since the USDA decided to abandon its "pizza with meat" standard, explaining "today's consumers demand new styles of pizza." And the week has shrunk too: National Pizza Week now lasts a mere four days. Apparently Americans are eating three billion pizzas a year without any prodding from the federal government.

If you're moved to mark the weeklet, which begins today, you're probably someone who takes declared food days very seriously. So you might consider multitasking your holiday obligations by sticking to pizzas topped with whichever edible is the day's other honoree. Here, a suggested schedule for the week ahead; follow the links for the recipes:

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Monday, National Apricot Day

Shrimp, Apricot and Arugula Pizza

Houston home cook Susan Oakland in 2010 won wine maker Cavit's annual gourmet pizza contest with arugula, white truffle oil and apricots.

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Tuesday, Bittersweet Chocolate Day

Chocolate and Fruit Pizza with Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce

Emeril Lagasse has no fear of the National Milk Producers Federation, as this cheese-free concoction from 2003 proves.

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Wednesday, Hot Toddy Day

Red Grape Pizza with Honey, Rosemary and Pecorino

OK, I have no idea how to put a hot toddy on a pizza. Eating Jamie Oliver's pizza while drinking whiskey-spiked tea is probably your best bet.

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Thursday, Curried Chicken Day

Chicken Curry Pizza

A favorite of the Pillsbury Doughboy, curry chicken pizza is also on the menu at Can-Am Pizza.

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