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The New York City Legend No One Expected To Be Immortalized In Soul

Thanks to the studio's undeniable gift for converting pixels into emotions, watching a Pixar movie can feel like catching up with an old friend. Whether they're old pals like the characters from Toy Story or new, original acquaintances, the denizens of this animated multiverse have historically shown themselves to be capable of crossing every demographic line, tugging at the heartstrings of viewers despite being from different times, cultures, and even species. Their struggles are our struggles, their triumphs, vicariously, our triumphs. They, collectively, are the Pizza Rats of fiction.

It is, therefore, nothing if not appropriate that Pixar's 23rd feature film includes a cameo from New York's favorite son: Pizza Rat, the Little Rodent That Could. Pizza Rat first captured the imaginations of the world in September of 2015 when it nabbed a slice of delicious 'za and, powered by that indefatigable American can-do spirit, carried it down a flight of stairs, presumably back to its hungry family of four adopted turtles. Pizza Rat's place as an NYC legend was cemented in just 14 seconds worth of low-res video.

Soul features plenty of Easter eggs, but not one of them captures the gumption, initiative, and compulsory hand washing inherent to New York City living in quite the same way that Pizza Rat's Pixar debut does.

Pizza Rat: the Soul of a city

It all goes down around the 41-minute mark of the movie. Joe (voiced by Jamie Foxx), the film's protagonist, is stuck in the body of a cat thanks to a merry existential mixup. Meanwhile, his ward 22 (Tina Fey) is trapped in Joe's old body on the streets of New York, having a difficult time adjusting to the new normal. Luckily, Joe knows that there's no problem that can't be fixed by cheese, tomato sauce, and unleavened bread, and uses his new feline body to rustle up a slice of pepperoni from a nearby shop.

As Joe the Cat makes his way through the busy streets, pizza in mouth, he passes a rat — one with a suspiciously familiar aesthetic to Ratatouille fans, but with an added layer of perceptible stress, probably as a result of trying to make it in the Big Apple instead of Paris. The rat, dragging a full slice of pizza down the street, locks eyes with Joe for a moment before nope-ing right down the road. Even if you didn't have "Jamie Foxx as a cat meets Pizza Rat" on your bingo card for late-2020, it's a solid callback to a cultural phenomenon.

On a more somber note, the average lifespan of a New York subway rat is less than one year, so the real Pizza Rat is undoubtedly dancing with the characters from Coco by now. Drop a slice on the ground in his memory.