REVIEW: Papa Johns Crispy Cuppy’ Roni Papadia

Doesn’t it seem like all the pizza chains have been releasing products with crispy cupped pepperoni? As someone who follows this stuff more than any normal person should, it’s hard to ignore it. Little Caesars, Pizza Hut, Domino’s. Oh wait, Domino’s doesn’t have cupped pepperoni…yet. But beating Domino’s to the punch is Papa Johns with its Crispy Cuppy’ Roni line of products: XL New York Pizza, Papadia, and Papa Bites.

Because it’s been windy here, and I didn’t want an extra large pizza box to become a sail in that wind, but I wanted to feel like I ate a pizza, I ended up getting the Papadia version that features crispy, cuppy pepperoni, creamy tomato sauce, and a three cheese blend folded in the chain’s fresh, never frozen original dough to create a handheld flatbread-style sandwich. Mine also came with a side of pizza sauce for plunging, but you can get it with any sauce Papa offers.

Having cupped pepperoni from other chains, I knew what to expect with these curled slices of meat, crispy edges, and a slightly different taste than the regular pepperoni. And that’s what I got here. Well, at least with the ones peeking out from the edges of the crust. Those that were compressed between cheese and dough weren’t as crispy, and I wish I had taken the chance of being blown away by gusts of wind and got the pizza instead. But I did get some crispiness back with the edges of the dough. Also, the promotional photos appear to have a plentiful amount of pepperoni, but my Papadia was poorly packed with meat. Perhaps four or five per half.

I’ve read that the creamy tomato sauce is a new addition to this Papadia, but Papa’s usual pizza sauce is still available. The only taste difference I noticed is that the new sauce is not as sweet as Papa’s regular pizza sauce, making it not too prominent among the cheese, meat, and bread. But if you want to wash over your taste buds with that sweet, red sauce, you can always get it in a dipping cup.

Papa Johns Crispy Cuppy’ Roni Papadia is pleasant, and I’d order it again. But if you want a better experience with the new cupped pepperoni, getting the XL New York Pizza might be the way to go.

Purchased Price: $9.99
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 870 calories, 42 grams of fat, 21 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 105 milligrams of cholesterol, 2120 milligrams of sodium, 81 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 8 grams of sugar, and 39 grams of protein.

*Because I live on a rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, things are a bit pricier here. You’ll probably pay less than I did.

REVIEW: Papa Johns Cheesy Calzone Epic Stuffed Crust Pizza

While I’ve eaten less lasagna than Garfield the Cat over my lifetime, thanks to the layered Italian dish, I’m familiar with what ricotta cheese tastes and feels like. So I find it a bit odd that Papa Johns’ Cheesy Calzone Epic Stuffed Crust Pizza, which has a blend of mozzarella and garlic herb ricotta packed into the crust, lacks any indication that the latter cheese is there.

Even when I pulled open the end crust, it only looked like a sea of mozzarella, and there were no herbs. Sure, the person who made mine might’ve not included it, or Garfield the Cat used Odie to distract the Papa Johns employees to suck out the ricotta while the pizza was sitting to be picked up. But I do taste something garlicky in the crust, so I assume the ricotta must be there. That flavor definitely does not come from the crust’s exterior because it looks and tastes as plain as plain can be. Heck, if you look at the whole pizza, it looks as if it’s seen a ghost.

Of course, the amount of ricotta you get in your crust may vary, and the lack of a strong flavor with the end crust can easily be remedied by dipping it into the dependable special garlic sauce that comes with the pizza. But without the sauce, it’s pretty much just a regular stuffed crust pizza.

The end crust of a Papa Johns Cheesy Calzone Epic Stuffed Crust Pizza is supposed to have the flavors of a calzone, but mine didn’t scream CALZONE, nor did it say it at a normal talking volume. I don’t hate it as much as Garfield the Cat hates Mondays, but if the amount of ricotta I got in my pizza is what I’m supposed to get, then it’s very disappointing.

Purchased Price: $18.99*
Size: Large
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 slice) 350 calories, 14 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 35 mc 910 milligrams of sodium, 41 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 5 grams of sugar, and 14 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Papa Johns Twix Papa Bites

Twix bars have a special place in my heart. No, it’s not the cholesterol caused by the candy’s saturated fat. I’ve been a fan of the chocolate, caramel, and cookie crunch combo since its debut in the US. When I was growing up, if any house in the neighborhood passed out Twix on Halloween, I’d get some in one costume, do a mid-All Hallows Eve costume change, and return to the house to get more. That adoration is still with me today, because I find myself eating all the Twix from Mars candy assortments, leaving the Snickers and Milky Way as scraps. So these Papa Johns Twix Papa Bites are a no-brainer, right?

Well…

The dessert or horrible idea for a meal combines Papa Johns’ fresh dough with bits of Twix Cookie Bars. An order comes with eight pieces and is served with a caramel dipping sauce. After inhaling three pieces, I wondered if this would end up being my horrible idea for dinner because I wanted to eat them all, despite the item looking like the worse-case scenario for a microwaved Hot Pocket. But I didn’t give in to temptation and left the rest for another day. Okay, another hour.

It’s chocolatey. It’s caramel-y. It’s doughy. But it’s not cookie-y, and that’s a big but to me. A large part of Twix’s appeal is its cookie crunch, and these Papa Bites lack that. There’s a grittiness that I assume are cookie bits, but they’re so minuscule and have been sitting in melted chocolate and caramel that they don’t provide any crunch at all. They make so little of a contribution that I could tell folks that these are Rolo Papa Bites, and they would probably believe me.

As I mentioned earlier, an order comes with caramel dipping sauce, but only used it with a couple of pieces. There’s enough caramel flavor without it, but if you get candy-less bites, it does come in handy. Finally, much like pizza, these still taste good cold, but the dough is chewier.

Overall, Papa Johns Twix Papa Bites are a sweet, tasty way to end a pizza feast. But, for me, having a cookie crunch would’ve taken it to another level.

Purchased Price: $8.99*
Size: 8 pieces
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 bite) 80 calories, 3 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat (okay, not sure what’s the deal with the fat numbers on the website, probably needs to be switched), 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 105 milligrams of sodium, 13 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

*Because I live on a rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, things are a bit pricier here. You’ll probably pay less than I did. The advertised price for this is $4.99.

REVIEW: Papa Johns Garlic Epic Stuffed Crust Pizza

Papa Johns Garlic Epic Stuffed Crust Pizza Whole

When Papa Johns showed up fashionably late to the stuffed crust pizza party in December of 2020, it may not have been timely, but it certainly arrived with a splash. The somewhat silly-titled “Epic Stuffed Crust” was no different than what Pizza Hut innovated in 1995, and yet, in my humble but experienced opinion, the Papa beat the Hut at its own game.

As a child of the 90s, the stuffed crust is an ever-shining beacon of culinary genius and one that will keep Pizza Hut in my heart forever. But its quality has gone so downhill in recent years that I never go there unless it’s to try a new unique item, unlike Papa Johns, which I keep on speed dial. For its third iteration of the Epic Stuffed Crust, Papa makes the pizza even more Papa-ified by incorporating the signature garlic sauce that makes it stand out amongst the other chains. It’s an Epic Stuffed Crust Pizza with a garlic parmesan seasoned and drizzled crust, original pizza sauce, melty cheese, and your choice of one topping, which comes standard as pepperoni.

Papa Johns Garlic Epic Stuffed Crust Pizza Crust

This review is pretty straightforward – if you like Papa John’s Stuffed Crust and its Special Garlic Dipping Sauce, you’ll like this pie. In fact, I only have two gripes with this pizza.

  1. I just moved to a denser and crazier part of the city where, for some reason, the one topping promotion is $20.99 instead of $13.99, so it cost more than I expected.
  2. I wish there was more garlic.

Papa Johns Garlic Epic Stuffed Crust Pizza Cheese

This is a cheesy, indulgent, downright delicious, and addictive pizza that very well might be my favorite iteration of Papa John’s best-in-class stuffed crust, but it isn’t all that garlicky. The seasoning on the crust is excellent and does very well to elevate the epic-ness of having tons of perfectly ooey gooey cheese in the crust, but it leans much more into the parmesan than the garlic for a nice crunchy umami bite that’s wonderful, but not garlicky.

Papa Johns Garlic Epic Stuffed Crust Pizza Slice

The toppings at Papa Johns have always seemed like the freshest and most abundant of all the mainstream chains, which is why it has been my favorite for over a decade. The sauce is sweet yet robust, the cheese has a nice dense flavor, and the pepperoni brings a nice crispiness and a hint of spice. Speaking of which, any time you’re ordering a pizza from a chain like this, make sure to get it well done. You’re very rarely, if ever, going to get a burnt pie, but these places crank out so many pizzas at such a fast rate they may pull it when it’s a touch underdone, and requesting well done, like I did, will ensure you get a properly cooked and delicious pizza.

While this could use some actual diced garlic like you’d find on garlic knots to really bring the concept home, it’s still an absolutely delicious pie that’s, without a doubt, my favorite new fast food item this year. Plus, if you’re getting this for $14 instead of $21 like my unfortunate metropolitan-dwelling self, it’s a helluva deal, and I’d grab it while you can.

Purchased Price: $20.99 (but should be $13.99 in your area)
Size: Large 1 Topping
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 slice) 420 calories, 16 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 990 milligrams of sodium, 39 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, and 16 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Papa Johns Doritos Cool Ranch Papadia

Before consuming the new Doritos Cool Ranch Papadia, I’d never tried a Papadia. Is it because it’s an awful name, and I genuinely dislike ordering terribly named things? Maybe. It’s why I never wanted to order the Arby-Q or the Bell Beefer.

My first thought was, why not call this what it is — an unsealed calzone? And then I had THIS brilliant realization — ohhhh, it’s an Italian quesadilla… a Papadia! That, however, is incorrect. According to the Internet, the Papadia name was inspired by the piadina, a folded flatbread sandwich native to northern Italy.

And while I stand by my assertion that this is a stupidly named food object, I’m glad I ordered it. Because the Papadia — specifically this new Cool Ranch Doritos variety — was tasty.

Available as preset chicken, steak, or beef varieties (with the option to construct your own), the Cool Ranch Papadia is a “Flatbread-style sandwich covered with bold ranch seasoning, loaded with Doritos Cool Ranch Flavored Dressing, melty cheese, ripe tomatoes, onions & chicken.” Web copy also suggests, “Comes with a side of Doritos Cool Ranch Flavored Dressing for dipping.”

I’m sorry to say that my store didn’t have the Cool Ranch-flavored dipping sauce. Instead, I was given a tub of regular ranch and a half-hearted shrug.

The shell’s exterior was heavily dusted with Cool Ranch powder and was way ranchier than Taco Bell’s Cool Ranch shell. It carried with it all of the zestiness one would expect from its namesake chip. If you have an aversion to Cool Ranch, you’re going to have a bad time with this thing. (I might also ask what you were thinking by ordering it to begin with, though.)

The inside was about what you’d expect from a Papa Johns pizza, ingredient-wise, meaning— the chicken was a little prefabricated tasting but identifiably chicken, the onions seemed fresh, and the tomatoes… okay, well, look: I hate hot tomatoes. I would never intentionally order tomatoes on a pizza. But because we at The Impulsive Buy order the food unamended, there they were. And the tomatoes were of fine quality, don’t get me wrong. They’re just not for me, you know?

The ranch sauce was evenly applied throughout and complemented the other toppings (innards?) nicely. I wouldn’t say it wasn’t distinguishably “Cool Ranch,” but honestly, it was a bit hard to isolate the sauce.

One thing I found curious about the preset arrangement was the lack of bacon. Chicken, bacon, and ranch is a classic culinary trio that’s pretty hard to beat on a sandwich, in a salad, on a pizza, or in a chalupa. Maybe it was a cost-saving measure; if so, thumbs down. That said, this was a really enjoyable item overall. I’ll order it again before it leaves — only this time, I’ll swap the retched tomatoes for bacon, pocketbook be damned.

Purchased Price: $7.99
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 840 calories, 32 grams of fat, 13 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 140 milligrams of cholesterol, 2330 milligrams of sodium, 82 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 10 grams of sugar, and 55 grams of protein.