Eight years ago today, the first reported exchange of bitcoin for a consumer product – a pair of Papa John’s pizzas – took place.
At a total cost of 10,000 bitcoins, it was a milestone for the adoption of cryptocurrency and one that has since been commemorated though the celebration of May 22 as “Bitcoin Pizza Day.”
Yet even the most cursory observation of Bitcoin Pizza Day isn’t complete without a calculation of precisely how much, in dollar terms, those two pizzas cost. With that, CoinDesk is today releasing a new widget that provides a real-time calculation that you can add to any website.
As of press time, that’s about $83.7 million for the two pies, or just shy of $42 million apiece.
But why does this matter? To understand, one needs to wind back the clock to 2010.
In mid-May of that year, a programmer named Laszlo Hanyecz sought to exchange some of his hard-earned bitcoins for pizza – several days later, he was able to do so with the aid of a fellow user of the Bitcoin Talk online forum, then a central hub for discussion around cryptocurrency.
A deal was struck: 10,000 BTC for two Papa John’s pizzas. That eye-watering amount was worth a mere $25 at the time, or a fraction of a penny apiece.
Yet at the time, it wasn’t so much the number of bitcoins spent or the product involved – the event was a milestone simply because the transaction had taken place. Though limited to 16 slices of pizza, the era of bitcoin-powered commerce had begun – not to mention the silent wincing over spending millions of dollars for two pizzas.
“It wasn’t like bitcoins had any value back then, so the idea of trading them for a pizza was incredibly cool,” Hanyecz said in a 2013 interview with The New York Times, adding:
“No one knew it was going to get so big.”
Still, the tradition lives on, with the purchase being used to track other notable bitcoin milestones.
Indeed, it was Hanyecz himself who would later participate in what might one day be known as “Lightning Pizza Day” after he used the next-generation technology, now in development, to purchase a pie in February.