The Story Behind The Catchy Pizza Nova Radio Jingle

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Now you’re going to be singing “439-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh Pizza Nova” all day long…

By Christopher Turner

It is without a doubt one of the catchiest, most memorable jingles that ever graced Canadian airwaves. The 60-second “439-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh Pizza Nova” ad campaign that dominated Ontario radio waves, particularly in the late 1980s and ’90s, is an example of a brilliant advertising campaign that still resonates to this day. The jingle is so popular that it has even been turned into a downloadable ringtone (but more on that later).

Founded in 1963, Pizza Nova is a family-operated business that now has more than 150 stores and concession locations, primarily throughout southern Ontario. Of course, part of the company’s success is its commitment to sharing the rich taste of Italy with Canadians, but you can’t discount the role the famous radio jingle had in turning the pizza joint into a household name.

Here’s a look back at the history of Pizza Nova and their time-honoured “439-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh Pizza Nova” ad campaign, and how it came to be.

A family-operated business

In 1963, an Italian immigrant named Sam Primucci had a vision of opening a pizzeria in what was then the northern reaches of Toronto. He enlisted his three brothers – Mike, Vince and Joe – to bring a little taste of their hometown of Basilicata, Italy, to Torontonians. The four brothers opened their first location in the Dorset Park neighbourhood in Scarborough on May 12, 1963, at Kennedy Road and Lawrence Avenue. The opening was a success thanks to both their delivery and walk-in services. Over the years, all the brothers except for Sam eventually moved on or retired, but the company flourished, especially after Pizza Nova opened its first franchised location in 1969.

“At that time, we served all of Scarborough all the way to West Hill, Don Mills,” Sam said in an interview in 2015. “We delivered all over.”

Domenic Primucci, Sam’s son and the company’s current president, recalls that at the time franchising was still a fairly new business model. But they saw it as an opportunity to encourage an entrepreneurial spirit that would build up their community.

The jingle

Pizza Nova’s legendary jingle was created in October 1987 when a few advertising visionaries – notably Rene DeSantis, Joe Latobesi and Andy DeSantis of the Toronto-based strategic marketing firm Montana Steele – got together with Sam and came up with a concept for a Pizza Nova ad campaign. The initial campaign came from the need to have one centralized telephone number that could be both the persona of the brand and an order/delivery mechanism.

Hamilton’s Syd Kessler was hired to write the jingle, which was the beginning of the brand’s recipe for radio success.

Kessler, who passed away on March 7, 2021, dominated Canadian commercial radio in the 1980s and ’90s. He presided over Canadian marketing and advertising initiatives and throughout his career he became known as Canada’s “King of the jingle,” even though he surprisingly couldn’t read a note of music or play any musical instruments. The creatively inclined Kessler had founded Kessler Productions in 1978 (and co-founded Supercorp Entertainment in 1987), and was the man behind massively successful advertising earworms for the likes of Maxwell House (“Hugga Mugga Max”), Labatt (“Reach For The Blue”), Black’s Photography (“Blacks is Photography,”) and countless others. His jingle for Pizza Nova, however, would go on to become his longest running of all.

Italian-born Canadian musician Alfie Zappacosta was hired to sing Kessler’s jingle. Flashback to the 1980s: Zappacosta was a sensation and a staple on Canadian radio stations with songs like “Start Again,” “Passion,” “When I Fall in Love Again” and “Nothing Can Stand in Your Way.” In 1984, just a few years before he was tapped for the Pizza Nova gig, he had won a Juno for Most Promising Male Vocalist of the Year. In 1987, the TV show Danger Bay aired an episode written specifically for Zappacosta, titled “Rock Star.” That same year he penned and sang “Overload,” which won an American Music Award and appeared on the multi-platinum-selling soundtrack to Dirty Dancing, the beloved classic film with Patrick Swayze as Johnny and Jennifer Grey as Baby. The soundtrack spent an astounding 18 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200.

Zappacosta sang Kessler’s lyrics with passion and it wasn’t long before the jingle, only really heard on the radio, became one of the classic sounds of Toronto, inspiring instant sing-alongs.

Four three nine oh oh oh oh Pizza Nova
Four three nine oh oh oh oh Pizza Nova
With every Pizza Nova you get real Italian pizza
You’ll get a friendly ciao, ’cause that’s the way we’ll greet ya
So pick up the phone and call us, pick up the phone and call us now
Call a Pizza Nova, pick up the phone and get a ciao
Four three nine oh oh oh oh Pizza Nova
Four three nine oh oh oh oh Pizza Nova
A real Italian pizza with flavour you can savour
Get a mille grazie, now do yourself a favour
So pick up the phone and call us, pick up the phone and call us now
Call a Pizza Nova, pick up the phone and get a ciao
Four three nine
And four zeroes
Four three nine, lots of zeroes
Pizza Nova
Four three nine oh oh oh oh Pizza Nova

It was an instant hit. And the idea to have Sam round off the jingle with the trademark “We invite you to taste the difference” in the initial radio commercials was also highly successful, giving the message a touch of authenticity and personal credibility.

In response to Pizza Nova’s oh-so-catchy radio jingle, other pizzerias tried to come up with their own jingles – but while “967-11-11, call Pizza Pizza hey hey hey” and “241-0-241 buy one always get one freeeeeeee” certainly resonate (and have stuck around), some would argue they could never really compete with Kessler and Zappacosta’s earworm.

Pizza Nova must agree. The jingle has been used in the company’s advertisements ever since it debuted back in 1987…although nowadays, the voice we hear is not Sam but Sam’s son Domenic.

“Good things last,” says Domenic. “Looking back, we’re extremely grateful to my father and our founder, Sam Primucci, for inspiring the creation of a jingle that reflects the timelessness and quality of our pizza and is woven into the fabric of our communities. These are classics – for both the tastebuds and the earbuds.”

“Oh, that Pizza Nova commercial,” Zappacosta said back in 2013 when asked about his jingle legacy. “I sure didn’t get rich on the royalties. Syd Kessler sold off the jingle and it kept getting repeated. They even tried a second commercial, ‘That’s Amore,’ but that didn’t do so well.”

ABOVE: Domenic Primucci, left, and Sam Primucci


This year, Pizza Nova is celebrating 60 years of delicious pizza, and it continues to thrive today with more than 150 stores and concession locations. They’re also the official pizza of the Toronto Blue Jays and are leaders in a variety of ongoing charitable efforts.

While some things may change and evolve, one thing hasn’t. Pizza Nova still offers a single phone number for all orders system-wide, and still uses Kessler’s jingle in every company advertisement on radio and television.

As part of Pizza Nova’s 60th anniversary celebrations, taking place throughout 2023, the company is showing a little love to the famous jingle by releasing it to streaming platforms. That’s right, Pizza Nova has turned its famous “439-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh Pizza Nova” jingle into a ringtone that’s now available on Spotify, Apple Music and the iTunes Store, as an ode to the company’s heritage.

“We’re setting the tone, so to speak, and can’t wait to share with you what’s next,” says Domenic.

Now, feel like ordering a pizza? I know a number.

For more information on Pizza Nova, visit

Tags: Alfie Zappacosta, Pizza, Pizza Nova, Toronto

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