Alas, “bite-ification” – when foodstuffs become snack/bite-size – has officially hit Papa Johns.
In December, it launched its new limited-time Oreo Cookie Papa Bites (fresh dough, topped with cheesecake filling and Oreo cookie pieces, baked and drizzled with icing).
Quickly after, it added two savory versions: Chicken Parmesan Papa Bites (fresh dough, grilled chicken, parmesan cheese, and pizza sauce that’s finished with garlic parmesan seasoning) and Jalapeno Papa Bites (fresh dough topped with its signature cheese, alfredo, jalapenos, and served with ranch dipping sauce).
They’re described as “eight savory or sweet delectable pillow pockets,” so I immediately thought of the pizza rolls found in the freezer aisle but with creative copywriting because the name “pizza rolls” is trademarked.
But I was wrong.
They’re more akin to stuffed, twisted breadsticks cut up into eight pieces and served with dipping sauces.
Before I get into a play-by-play, I will say that all varieties were flavorful on their own and didn’t really need any of the dips. I appreciate I had the option of slathering my bite in sauce, though, because I know folks love sauces, which includes myself! I always get an extra garlic dipping sauce.
Papa Johns also touts that these are all made with its fresh, never frozen dough. I’m not fancy enough to be able to tell frozen from fresh, but that Papa Johns pizza dough taste comes through despite all the mix-ins. Also, texture-wise, it’s not like the tough crust, but rather the soft, springy dough expected from its pizza.
Oreo Cookie Papa Bites
I started with the dessert collab with Oreo because I’m a dessert-first kinda gal!
Even though I could see chocolate cookie dusting, I didn’t get any Oreo chocolate cookie flavor. The icing also didn’t really taste like the creme. It tasted like dough with a plain ol’ icing. Dipping it in the side of icing also didn’t do anything but make it even more one-note tasting. I wanted to love these because they would’ve been a great add-on to my usual order, but they fell short. I had higher expectations because the Oreo name is front and center! If these were called Dessert Papa Bites, that would’ve tempered my expectations.
Jalapeno Papa Bites
After the disappointing Oreo one, I was ready for something savory, so I jumped to the Jalapeno version. The pungent, spicy, and sour aroma was calling my name because I also enjoy eating Papa John’s pepperoncini.
Despite thinking I was smelling the light-colored pepper that comes with Papa Johns’ pizzas, the bites did look like they were made with jalapenos as they were darker green pieces as opposed to bright yellow. As expected with jalapenos, there was just a kiss of heat that did not linger. The cheese was so plentiful that it was gooey, like a comforting grilled cheese. The alfredo helped to add a punch of flavor because it wasn’t seasoned on the outside like the Chicken Parmesan one. I preferred eating this flavor with the garlic dip instead of the ranch it came with, but honestly, I like garlic dip with almost everything. Again, dips and sauces are not needed, though!
Chicken Parmesan Papa Bites
The Chicken Parmesan one intrigued me the most because it looked like a stromboli or cut-up Costco chicken bake. I’m not sure if it was because they didn’t thoroughly split the bites apart, but these were wider than the other ones. It may have been a fluke, though, as all marketing materials lead me to believe it should look like the others! Visuals aside, this one was chock-full of add-ins like the Jalapeno one!
Unfortunately, all I could taste was sauce and cheese. The meat could have been a meatball, chicken, or mystery, but I wouldn’t have been able to tell you which. Don’t get me wrong – I especially love Papa Johns sauce, but it’s not chicken parm if I cannot detect chicken! But, unlike the Oreo one, I would get this one again. It was still very tasty and tasted great the next day for breakfast, but the dominant flavors were sauce, cheese, and the garlic parmesan seasoning on the crust.
Like breadsticks, Papa Bites are listed in the sides section. It’s enough food if you ate a box of eight on its own, but it doesn’t satisfy a true pizza craving as a pie does. Maybe a Papadia with a side of Papa Bites could be the winning combo! I give Papa Johns kudos for continuing to be creative with its menu, but some flavors were better than others.
Purchased Price: $4.99 each
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Oreo), 6 out of 10 (Chicken Parmesan), 7 out of 10 (Jalapeno)
Nutrition Facts: (1 Papa Bite) Oreo Cookie – 80 calories, 2 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 110 milligrams of sodium, 13 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein. Chicken Parmesan – 110 Calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 280 milligrams of sodium, 10 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 6 grams of protein. Jalapeno – 80 Calories, 3 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 220 milligrams of sodium, 10 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.