When it comes to junk food nostalgia most of my flashbacks are of the sweet variety. Dunkaroos, Surge, and WWF’s Hulk Hogan cereal always pull me back to the simpler days, but there are a few savory items that I look back on with glowing glee as well. 3D Doritos tend to be at the top of most older millennial’s junk food wishlists, and I personally loved the Taco Doritos that seemed to vanish sometime in the early 2000s.
But recently, very recently, in fact, I was wondering what the hell happened to Pizza Hut’s P’Zone. For a company aligned with Taco Bell and known for making zany limited time items, I couldn’t understand why the company’s financially friendly twist on the calzone disappeared years ago without a proper farewell.
Suffer no more, the giant Hot Pocket of meat and cheese that I fell in love with as a stoned teenager in smoky basements is back, and it got a bit of a facelift.
The most immediate difference is in the appearance of the outer crust. While the 2019 P’Zone has the same shape and general size of the original, it’s covered in a toasted orange Parmesan that immediately evokes an asiago bagel. The original P’Zone was garnished with traditional pizzeria-style parmesan sprinkles and parsley, which sat nicely atop of golden brown dough. The new iteration still looks good, but it’s not the same as the one I fell in love with, and I just have to learn to let go.
The bagel experience doesn’t end with appearance. When I bite in, I wonder if I’m sitting inside of a Noah’s at 8 a.m. or on my couch with remote in hand at 8 p.m. The parmesan’s funky intensity stands out, but almost to a fault as I find it to be a bit distracting. When you pair the distinct sharp cheesiness with the bread’s pretty prominent fluffiness, the 2019 P’Zone does feel a bit more like a bagel than a pizza.
The P’Zone was never as loaded as a true calzone, which tends to be thicker and taller and oftentimes a knife-and-fork situation; whereas Pizza Hut’s take is much more of a finger food with a flatter profile. The toppings inside, although not extremely dense, are good and present enough to bring the pizza pizazz I’m looking for.
Taken as it is the P’Zone is good but a bit underwhelming. However, when dunked into the generously sized cup of marinara sauce, it’s damn good. The pizza sauce brings some poppin’ acidity and moisture that makes the ‘zone taste much more fresh, engaging, and something I want more bites of.
While it isn’t quite as sensational as I remembered as a stoned teenager, I can’t help but be excited about the return of the budget-friendly and filling option at Pizza Hut. In the scope of chain pizza restaurants Pizza Hut isn’t really on my radar unless I’m craving its stuffed crust, but even then Little Caesars does an admirable job at a lower cost.
That being said, the P’Zone being back, as an apparent permanent addition to the menu, ensures I’ll be back at The Hut before the end of the year, and the buzz of its return is sure to lure many other early 2000s nostalgia hunters through its greasy shop doors in no time.
Purchased Price: $5.99
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1/2 P’Zone) 460 calories, 16 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 1170 milligrams of sodium, 60 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 19 grams of protein.