REVIEW: Papa John’s NY Style Pizza

Papa John s NY Style Crust Pizza Whole

Papa John’s has been busy lately with a bunch of new offerings, including the Triple Bacon, Shaq-a-Roni, and Epic Stuffed Crust pizzas, all of which earned generally positive reviews from my esteemed colleagues of culinary critique. Now comes the NY Style Pizza, which launched nationwide on December 27 and will be available through March 13, 2022.

I’m sure this will shock you to your core, but no, Papa John’s did not successfully replicate true New York-style pizza. Yes, these are foldable and (somewhat) oversized as Papa John’s advertises, and I’m going to give it the benefit of the doubt that it is also hand-stretched as the website claims, even though I was not there to witness that. But if you tried serving this at a pizzeria in New York City, then a brouhaha, fracas and/or kerfuffle would probably ensue. Perhaps even all three.

Usually, my main qualification to do a review on this site is simply that I have a functioning mouth, but in this case, I do bring some pizza credentials. I grew up in New York (actually New Jersey, but we decided long ago as a state that it’s better to just say New York), so I’ve had my share of authentic New York pizza. And now, as a resident of Texas, I’m used to be being both disappointed and amused when I try New York pizza around here. Truthfully, some local joints come reasonably close, and maybe even closer than I give them credit, but I do deduct authenticity points when someone says, “Here’s y’alls pizza.”

Papa John s NY Style Crust Pizza Slice

With that said, this isn’t bad — it is still pizza after all — and it’s a bit better than I thought it would be, especially considering it’s made using the standard Papa John’s crust, sauce, and cheese. To me, the two things that define New York pizza are the crust being both chewy and crispy with a few of those big air bubbles and the cheese having some stretch and snap along with an unhealthy amount of grease/oil.

Papa John’s fared well on the first requirement, and I think they probably did as well as they could using their regular crust, which I’ve always found to be a little too thick and chewy. This pizza fixed both of those issues, and it comes close to the overall thinness of New York pizza. The outer crust doesn’t quite hit the mark as far as the right balance of crisp and chewy, but it did contain a few modest-size air bubbles and faintly reminded me of New York crust.

Papa John s NY Style Crust Pizza Crust

The shortcoming here is the standard Papa John’s cheese, which has very little of the stretchiness, snap, or general oiliness you might get with a New York pizza. The toppings (I went with pepperoni) were plentiful, so bonus points for that, and even though the slices were a little smaller than most New York pizza I’ve had, they did fold quite well.

Papa John s NY Style Crust Pizza Fold

I didn’t expect to get anything close to real New York-style pizza when I ordered this — and I didn’t — but if you temper your expectations based on what a big chain can deliver using its standard ingredients, and you don’t have many other options in your area, then this is a serviceable pie.

Purchased Price: $13 with one topping
Size: Extra-large (16”)
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: Detailed nutritional information not available on the Papa John’s website, but it does say each cheese slice has 310 calories.

REVIEW: Blue Bell Eggnog Ice Cream

Blue Bell Eggnog Ice Cream Carton

What is Blue Bell Eggnog Ice Cream?

Just in time for the holidays, Blue Bell has released a new eggnog flavored French ice cream with nutmeg and whipped topping.

How is it?

Let’s just say that if I wanted Santa to give me some spectacular gifts, I’d leave a bowl of this ice cream next to the fireplace (and I know it would melt by the time he came down the chimney, but I’m going to assume he’s magical enough to resolve that issue).

Blue Bell Eggnog Ice Cream Top

This is rich, creamy, silky, and not all that dissimilar from fancy vanilla ice cream, but you also get hints of nutmeg (even though the advertised nutmeg “flecks” are really hard to see) and the subtle but distinct eggnog flavor. This was the first time I’ve ever had eggnog-flavored ice cream, and I loved it.

The only thing I didn’t love was the whipped topping, which I’ve mentioned in other Blue Bell reviews. There’s quite a bit of it in here, and it has the taste and consistency of Cool Whip. Now I have nothing against Cool Whip. When there’s a tub of it sitting out, I’m going to jam my finger in it for a taste. I might even take a second taste, but that’s about it.

Blue Bell Eggnog Ice Cream Scoops

Cool Whip is fine when it plays a minor role, so a scoop of this ice cream that is 80/20 eggnog to Cool Whip is great. But when you get a bite with the opposite ratio, then it’s a little off-putting. So use that spoon wisely.

Anything else you need to know?

I’m probably in the minority in that I don’t have a strong opinion on eggnog. It seems everyone else either loves it or hates it. If someone offers me some, I’ll probably take it, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually purchased eggnog.

Blue Bell Eggnog Ice Cream Nog Mug

I think it can be delicious, but its consistency sometimes bothers me. It’s not as thick as a milkshake but not quite thin enough to pass for liquid, at least in my book. And if it’s a little too yellowish, it makes me think I’m about to drink uncooked scrambled eggs. I even get a little bit of a slimy or mucous-like vibe from some. Perhaps that’s why I liked this ice cream so much. It has all the taste and richness of eggnog without reminding me of nasal drainage!

Conclusion:

If you are already on Team Eggnog, chances are you will really like this. If eggnog is on your naughty list because of its consistency, you might still want to give this a shot. And if you just don’t like the taste of eggnog, why are you reading this review anyway?

Purchased Price: $6.17
Size: 1/2 gallon
Purchased at: H-E-B
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (2/3 cup) 240 calories, 14 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 50 milligrams of cholesterol, 60 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 24 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Dairy Queen Reese’s Pieces Cookie Dough Blizzard

Dairy Queen Reese s Pieces Cookie Dough Blizzard Cup

What is the Dairy Queen Reese’s Pieces Cookie Dough Blizzard?

It’s the October Blizzard of the Month, and its name pretty much describes what it contains: Reese’s Pieces candy, chocolate chip cookie dough, peanut butter topping, and pumpkin-flavored soft serve. OK, it’s regular vanilla soft serve. Just checking to make sure you are really reading this part of the review.

How is it?

It’s good, but this one goes into the category of what I’ll call the Taco Bell-style of Blizzard. While Taco Bell has introduced some new items lately that are actually new, like the Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco, most of its “new” introductions are just a slightly different combination of its core ingredients or the same combination from a few years ago that it thinks we forgot about. While Reese’s Pieces are not generally on the standard DQ menu, there have been countless Blizzards with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and/or cookie dough, so I can’t give the DQ folks many creativity points here.

I realize with the seasonal Blizzard menus, the Blizzard of the Month (which is sometimes more than one), and other new Blizzards throughout the year that every Blizzard can’t be a mind-blowing creation, and there’s nothing at all wrong with this one. It’s quite good, but I doubt my opinion is going to sway you on this one.

Dairy Queen Reese s Pieces Cookie Dough Blizzard Top

If you like Reese’s Pieces (or PB Cups) and cookie dough, then this is going to be a winner for you. If you are not on Team Reese’s, then this probably isn’t for you. I will say that the crunch of the Pieces in a Blizzard is a nice change compared to PB Cups, which have a consistency similar to the cookie dough. Even though there are chocolate chip cookie dough pieces in this, the chocolate flavor gets pushed aside by the power of peanut butter. So if the chocolate part is important to you, then maybe ask them to add in a bit of chocolate fudge topping or chocolate chunks.

Anything else you need to know?

Dairy Queen Reese s Pieces Cookie Dough Blizzard Spoon

Assuming that the nutrition info on the DQ website is correct — which is not always a safe assumption because, in the past, the chain has challenged the laws of both math and science by listing negative numbers for dietary fiber — this is the highest calorie Blizzard I can remember seeing. The small size has a whopping 900 calories, and the large has 1,710 calories, along with 81 grams of fat and 192 carbs. Wow.

Conclusion:

At the risk of hurting the feelings of this Blizzard, there’s nothing special about it. But don’t feel bad little Blizzard, you are still pretty good.

Purchased Price: $4.29
Size: Small
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (Small) 900 calories, 39 grams of fat, 20 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 50 milligrams of cholesterol, 490 milligrams of sodium, 108 grams of carbohydrates, 2 gram of dietary fiber, 88 grams of sugar, and 17 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Dairy Queen Sea Salt Toffee Fudge Blizzard

Dairy Queen Sea Salt Toffee Fudge Blizzard Cup

What is the Sea Salt Toffee Fudge Blizzard?

It’s part of the Fall Blizzard Menu at Dairy Queen, and it features salted toffee pieces, rich fudge pieces, and caramel topping with vanilla soft serve.

How is it?

It’s the surprise hit of the fall season!

I wasn’t sure how much I would like this one because I don’t think I’ve ever bought a toffee bar in my life. Sure, I’ve had toffee plenty of times, but it’s usually been during the weeks after Halloween when I ask one of my kids for a piece of candy from their massive haul and they generously offer me a Heath bar because they don’t want to give up any of the good stuff. As a standalone candy, toffee is just OK to me. But as part of a tag team with the fudge pieces in this Blizzard, it’s really tasty.

Dairy Queen Sea Salt Toffee Fudge Blizzard Toffee

The toffee pieces in here are quite small, but they pack a solid punch with their extreme crunchiness and buttery sweet flavor. The caramel topping blends well with the not-so-different toffee flavor, and then the fudge pieces provide a vastly different chewy texture and nice chocolatey kick. It all comes together to form a complex and pleasant taste experience that sets this one apart from most other Blizzards.

Dairy Queen Sea Salt Toffee Fudge Blizzard Caramel

One caveat here -— if you are excited about the sea salt part of this Blizzard, well, calm down. As much as I tried, I couldn’t discern any salty taste at all, from the sea or anywhere else. I don’t want to call the fine people at DQ liars, especially considering I’m sure they have a whole team of lawyers that would frown upon such a statement, but I do think putting sea salt in the name of this Blizzard is a bit of a stretch.

Anything else you need to know?

I bet you can’t name three brands of toffee candy bars. In the U.S., there are basically two — Heath and Skor (and although they competed against each other at one point, both are now made by The Hershey Company). I tried, without much success, to see where those two candy bars rank in popularity compared to the likes of Snickers, Kit Kat, Milky Way, Twix, etc. The best I could do is find that the Heath bar was 56th in popularity in 1987, back when I’m not sure there were many more than 56 different candy bars being made. And maybe it’s time for someone to do a new survey.

Conclusion:

If you are like me and do not have an affinity for toffee, you should still give this Blizzard a chance because it’s unexpectedly good. And if you are one of the few people who actually goes out and buys toffee bars, then you are probably going to love this.

Purchased Price: $4.29
Size: Small
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (Small) 710 calories, 25 grams of fat, 14 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 60 milligrams of cholesterol, 570 milligrams of sodium, 110 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 86 grams of sugar, and 13 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Dairy Queen Pecan Pie Blizzard

Dairy Queen Pecan Pie Blizzard Cup

What is the Dairy Queen Pecan Pie Blizzard?

It’s Thanksgiving in a cup! Actually, it’s the September Blizzard of the Month (sharing the stage with the return of the Pumpkin Pie Blizzard) and part of the fall Blizzard menu, which presumably means it will be available beyond September since most of the month is technically summer. Calendar confusion aside, this is a new offering from Dairy Queen and includes gooey brown sugar pie pieces, crunchy pecans (is there such a thing as non-crunchy pecans?), creamy caramel topping, and vanilla soft serve with whipped topping.

How is it?

Dairy Queen Pecan Pie Blizzard Pie Piece

Remember in grade school when someone would say, “If you love it so much, why don’t you marry it?” The “it” in question could be anything, from a pudding cup to an embarrassed classmate. In this case, let’s say it is the gooey brown sugar pie pieces. Yes, I would marry them, all of them. Just don’t tell my wife. Seriously though, the little square pie pieces in here alone are worth the price of this Blizzard, both monetarily and physically for the higher-than-usual calorie count of this concoction compared to most other varieties.

I had never heard of brown sugar pie prior to this, and now it’s one of my new favorite things. The ingredients are basically flour, eggs, sugar, molasses, caramel, and sugar, which is probably what a kid in grade school would use if you asked one to make a pie, and maybe that’s why it’s so good. The pieces are really more chewy than gooey with a wonderfully satisfying sweet taste and texture, just like pecan pie filling.

Dairy Queen Pecan Pie Blizzard Spoon

Now that I’m done deifying the brown sugar pie pieces, the rest of this is pretty good too. The caramel topping does a great job of adding flavor to the soft serve, and the pecans are just fine. Mine had a few big ones on top for show and a lesser amount mixed into the Blizzard. The pecan flavor was there, but perhaps pushed aside a bit by the pie pieces and caramel. It would have been nice to have a few more pecans in there, but overall it’s hard for me to find much fault with this Blizzard.

Anything else you need to know?

Even if you are not a fan of pecans, I would encourage you to give this a shot, and why wouldn’t you follow the advice of some random guy on the internet? Even if you can’t stand pecans, maybe try getting this without them. It will be worth the strange look you get for ordering a Pecan Pie Blizzard with no pecans.

Conclusion:

Dairy Queen Pecan Pie Blizzard Full

Anything with the words pie and Blizzard in it is likely going to be good, but this was a surprisingly special treat. I hope this one sticks around for a while.

Purchased Price: $4.29
Size: Small
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (Small) 750 calories, 35 grams of fat, 17 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 65 milligrams of cholesterol, 350 milligrams of sodium, 97 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 76 grams of sugar, and 15 grams of protein.