REVIEW: Papa John’s Epic Stuffed Crust Pizza

Papa John s Epic Stuffed Crust Pizza Whole

The year is 1995. Coolio is busy living in a gangsta’s paradise. Alicia Silverstone — as Cher Horowitz or Hamilton (they accidentally gave her two last names) — was falling in love with her stepbrother, but no one cared because hey, it was Paul Rudd. And, an innovation that would change the junk food world forever, Pizza Hut was stuffing cheese in its crust. The chain also attempted to convince the American people that “eating your pizza backwards” was a thing everyone would start doing.

(Spoiler alert: no one actually did this.)

Fast forward 25 years. Coolio is living…man, who knows where Coolio is living these days. Paul Rudd has eclipsed his stepsister’s fame by a wide margin. Pizza Hut is still slinging cheese-stuffed crusts, and has even been known to occasionally put other things in there, too. (Hot dogs, bacon, shrimp and mayo, Marmite.)

Meanwhile, competitor, Papa John’s? In all these years, they’ve never stuffed anything into a crust.

So, if you were in Product Development for Papa John’s, what would you do? Why you’d introduce your own version of the stuffed crust pizza to capitalize on an idea Pizza Hut begat a quarter-century ago.

It’s 2020, so sure, why not?

Here’s the absolutely bizarre thing about this pizza: the pizza body is no different than a normal Papa John’s body, but the hat? Tastes exactly like Pizza Hut’s Stuffed Crust. It’s almost like a Frankensteinian operation that involves surgically grafting the two pizzas together.

Papa John s Epic Stuffed Crust Pizza Slice

From the slice’s point up to the crust, it is distinctly Papa — the sweet sauce, the cheese that doesn’t do much stretching (and sadly, wasn’t even melted uniformly on mine), and whatever toppings you choose to make it your own. (For the sake of the review, I went with pepperoni.) The point being, you’ve had this pizza. And you are either fine with it or don’t like it; this particular incarnation won’t do anything to change that.

Papa John s Epic Stuffed Crust Pizza Cheese

Then you get to the crust. And, like I said, you’ve probably had this, too, just not from Papa John’s. The thing I find most unusual is that the dough used to make this crust is probably Papa’s regular hand-tossed, or “original” dough, just, you know, stretched. It’s the same way Pizza Hut does it. But Pizza Hut’s hand-tossed dough is decidedly different than Papa John’s, wouldn’t you agree? They’re distinct until they’re stretched and stuffed with cheese around the perimeter! Something about that act makes the two crusts indiscernible.

Papa John s Epic Stuffed Crust Pizza Flyover

Overall the cheese in the crust is warm and appropriately stretchy and a nice way to end a slice. With Pizza Hut’s version, you can add some flavor to the crust, like a garlic buttery blend or toasted parmesan, which elevates things. Papa John’s crust didn’t have butter, but it would’ve added a little something. Not to be a broken record, but if you like Hut’s stuffed crust, you’ll like this, too.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go see if I can find out how Coolio is doing.

Purchased Price: $12
Size: Large
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: Unavailable at time of publication.

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REVIEW: DiGiorno Meatless Monday Meatless Sausage Supreme Pizza

DiGiorno Meatless Monday Meatless Sausage Supreme Pizza Box

What is the DiGiorno Meatless Monday Meatless Sausage Supreme Pizza

Well, for starters, it’s a bunch of words. So going forward, I’ll probably refer to this as DMMMSSP, or “dimsup” if I’m saying it aloud. This is the frozen pizza maker monolith’s ode to fake meat, which has been quite the rage for the better part of recent history.

DiGiorno Meatless Monday Meatless Sausage Supreme Pizza Whole

How is it?

It feels as though this review should be split between “how’s the fake sausage” and “how’s the product, overall?”

DiGiorno Meatless Monday Meatless Sausage Supreme Pizza Closeup

So, to answer the first one — it’s great! Made with pea protein, you’d be hard-pressed to discern these crumbles from the real deal. (At least in terms of, you know, frozen pizza sausage.) There is a very convincing chew and real sausage-like seasoning. It’s peppery without being spicy.

DiGiorno Meatless Monday Meatless Sausage Supreme Pizza Slice

The pizza, however, is just okay. If you’ve had DiGiorno, you’re familiar with the bland, muted veggies (in this case, red and green bell peppers and onions), the overly sweet sauce that gets applied with a sauce cannon, and the crust which is thick and uncompromisingly bread-y.

Anything else you need to know?

“Meatless Monday” was started in 2003 by Sid Lerner, who advocated that people give up meat one day a week for both their health and the health of the planet. Is it weird that this was the first time I’ve ever heard of it? And I say this as someone who’s been a vegetarian for brief spurts in the past and regularly consumes meat-alternatives.

Conclusion:

While I used to think DiGiorno was tops in terms of the frozen pizza empire, it feels as though they have recently been passed on all fronts by multiple competitors. But while brands such as Urban Pie and Screamin’ Sicilian may best DiGiorno in most ways*, their meat-alternative options are, for now, nonexistent. Kudos to DiGiorno for taking the leap; hopefully, we’ll soon see more brands do the same.

*The best option, if you have it in your area, is Brew Pub Lotzza Motzza frozen pizzas, by the way.

Purchased Price: $6.99
Size: 20.8 oz
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1/4 pizza) 300 calories, 10 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 750 milligrams of sodium, 39 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 4 grams of sugar, and 14 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Domino’s Cheeseburger Pizza

Domino s Cheeseburger Pizza Whole

There is a semi-large, local to Kansas City pizza chain that makes a really fine cheeseburger pizza. I just thought I’d throw that out there to let it be known that a tasty cheeseburger pizza is within the realm of possibility.

What this local chain does right, it’s worth noting, is add pickles (you know, sliced pickle “chips”) and gobs of mustard. Now, I’m not even a mustard and pickle person on my REGULAR cheeseburger, let alone when I consume a pizza masquerading as a cheeseburger. But on this particular pie, it works.

Sadly, unless you are in the KC Metro area, you can’t have this unorthodox delight. Instead, I present to you, Domino’s depressing new cheeseburger pizza. According to the chain, their pizza is made with “a ketchup-mustard sauce, American cheese, beef, fresh onions, diced tomatoes, shredded provolone and cheddar cheese.” Opening the box, I was pleasantly surprised to see how well it had been constructed. The smell was appealing, too, but only in a generic, “yep, that smells like a pizza, alright” sort of way.

The visual and olfactory positives would be the high points of this forgettable dining experience.

Domino s Cheeseburger Pizza Plated

The first thing I noticed when taking a bite was the overpoweringly obnoxious falsity that is American cheese. I’ve unwittingly ended up with American cheese on another Domino’s pizza at some dark point in the past, and all I really want to know is why? American cheese has its place in the world, sure – on an actual cheeseburger, mixed up in some scrambled eggs, melting messily atop a McDonald’s breakfast sandwich – but the desire to include it on a pizza is peculiar, no matter what the pizza purports to be.

The next thing I noticed was that I DIDN’T notice the sauce. As previously stated, the pizza was supposed to have a ketchup-mustard sauce. There was something under the cheese, I think, but all I really detected were subtle notes of slightly tangy wet.

Onions were present, but there were few and they added little, and the beef was your standard pre-formed, pre-cooked, straight-from-a-box, hamburger pellet that seems to find its way onto any national chain pizza when “beef” is involved. (Somewhere there is a beef pellet factory churning out hundreds of thousands of pounds of this product annually, I’m sure.)

Domino s Cheeseburger Pizza Closeup

Two things surprised me in a good way: the diced tomatoes added a pleasant and necessary juiciness to the proceedings (and I say this as someone who is generally anti-hot tomatoes in most situations) and the hand-tossed crust tasted fresh and flavorful, with a buttery, crunchy exterior and a soft, pillowy interior.

Domino s Cheeseburger Pizza Floppy

In fact, the crust was so enjoyable, and the construction and freshness of the overall pizza so impressive, I found myself excited to try Domino’s again at some point in the near future. Only, you know, not this particular pizza. And okay, probably not for full price. But the next time they run one of their 50% off specials? I will definitely consider probably giving them another shot. Maybe.

Purchased Price: $11.99 (promo price)
Size: Large
Rating: 4 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 slice) 380 calories, 19 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 50 milligrams of cholesterol, 880 milligrams of sodium, 35 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, and 15 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Domino’s Chicken Taco Pizza

Domino s Chicken Taco Pizza Whole

I am an Iowa native.

Why is this relevant?

Because Iowa is home to the first taco pizza! Happy Joe’s, a Midwest pizza chain, supposedly invented it in 1974. I grew up on the “original” taco pizza with refried beans, taco-seasoned meat, lettuce, tomatoes, taco chips sprinkled on top (my favorite part), and taco sauce on the side.

Although Domino’s Chicken Taco Pizza lacks many of those ingredients, I wanted to give it a try. I could’ve added my own chips and salsa, but sadly my kitchen lacked these add-ons when I ordered mine. It does includes American cheese, taco seasoning, grilled chicken, onions, green peppers, tomatoes, provolone cheese, and cheddar cheese. It looks like it was built in this order as well.

Domino s Chicken Taco Pizza Slice 2

It has no traditional sauce, instead replaced by American cheese and taco seasoning. With my pizza, these base ingredients were not equally distributed with my first slice being heavy with the seasoning, while my second slice was more American cheese. The seasoning is what really gives this its taco essence. Plus, I don’t know a lot of folks who include American cheese in their usual lineup of taco ingredients.

Domino s Chicken Taco Pizza Slice

The other components were better distributed, but kind of blended together with no single ingredient overpowering the others. As expected, there were obvious texture differences — a chunk of chicken tastes and feels different from a green pepper string.

Domino s Chicken Taco Pizza Cheese Closeup

The provolone and cheddar cheeses also blended together and started congealing, which pizza cheese does if not immediately eaten. That was likely due to time delays from my pizza being ready until I actually got to bite into it. (I had to wait about 30 minutes from the time Domino’s Pizza Tracker indicated mine was ready until it finally hit my mouth!) So it was lacking in cheesy ooziness as well as a strong scent, which are two components that typically get me excited to dive into a pizza.

Domino’s has touted this (as well as its new Cheeseburger Pizza) as “designed for delivery” given that tacos and burgers are not food items that always deliver well. This pizza is not a taco replacement, but it is a solid Domino’s offering with some taco-flavored inspiration (mostly the seasoning).

Some of the ingredients could be found in a taco, although the onion and green peppers seem more fajita-esque. To enhance it with your own taco-flair, I recommend adding some chips (hard-shell bits or crumbled Doritos) and salsa.

While I do not think Domino’s Chicken Taco Pizza compares to the “original” taco pizza, I would probably order it again if wanting a change from any traditional pizza.

Purchased Price: $11.99
Size: Large
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 slice) 350 calories, 16 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 780 milligrams of sodium, 34 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 3 grams of sugar, 1 gram of added sugars, and 16 grams of protein.

REVIEW: DiGiorno Croissant Crust Pizza

DiGiorno Croissant Crust Pizza  Pepperoni and Four Cheese

What is DiGiorno’s Croissant Crust Pizza?

DiGiorno has added a 10th crust line with its new Croissant Crust pizza. The Nestlé PR gurus tout that this innovation combines the goodness of a croissant with “It’s Not Delivery!” to create a unique twist. It launched with three different toppings: Pepperoni, Three Meat, and Four Cheese. But, I was only able to find two: Pepperoni and Four Cheese.

How is it?

Sometimes marketing speak is way too lofty. In this case, though, I do think it’s a unique twist. It’s not something that I’ve seen from the pizza delivery giants nor other frozen pizza brands. Another aspect that speaks to its uniqueness is that I didn’t have a frame of reference for what a croissant crust pizza should be like. However, unique and a 10 out of 10 rating are not synonymous.

DiGiorno Croissant Crust Pizza Crust Closeup Uncooked

They say you eat with your eyes first, and I immediately nitpicked at the lack of lamination on both. The uncooked layers looked more like a biscuit than a refined French croissant. Even in its pre-baked state, I picked up on a very buttery smell that reminded me of the way Pillsbury biscuit dough smells. While I was appreciative it wasn’t an artificial or overpowering movie theatre popcorn butter smell, it unfortunately further reinforced biscuit.

DiGiorno Pepperoni Croissant Crust Pizza

DiGiorno Four Cheese Croissant Crust Pizza

I was also a little peeved that there were ONLY 19 pieces of pepperoni. After the baking process, my perception changed because the 19 produced quite an amount of grease. So, the skimping worked out well. Four cheese, on the other hand, was the perfect amount of molten stringy goodness. I wouldn’t be able to tell you which “100% real” cheese is which to save my life, but it was enjoyable.

DiGiorno Croissant Crust Pizza Crust Closeup

A key win is that the crust created a firmer texture like an elementary school cafeteria pizza. I know that may sound like an off-putting comparison, but it conjures a lot of nostalgia for me. It also speaks to the fact that there was not a soggy crust in sight!

DiGiorno Croissant Crust Pizza Crust Closeup Side

It actually flaked nicely like a croissant, and surprisingly not like a biscuit. Also, when I was cutting it, I could hear a bit of the crispy crackly like the top of a croissant. The butter smell and taste were still prevalent, but with the harder and crispier texture, I was able to get past the biscuit context.

Anything else you need to know?

The mark of a solid pizza is how it tastes when it’s cold. These did lose a bit of the croissant flakiness, but the flavors were still there.

Conclusion:

At this price point, I’d place this in the Little Caesars $5 Hot & Ready realm. In most instances, I’d probably only pick this over a Hot & Ready if I had enough room in my small freezer, which unfortunately isn’t often enough.

Purchased Price: $5.99
Size: 25 oz. (Pepperoni), 25.3 oz. (Four Cheese)
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Pepperoni), 8 out of 10 (Four Cheese)
Nutrition Facts: (1/5 Pizza) Pepperoni – 380 calories, 20 grams of fat, 780 milligrams of sodium, 35 grams of carbohydrates, 2 gram of dietary fiber, 4 grams of sugar, and 16 grams of protein. Four Cheese – 370 calories, 18 grams of fat, 680 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 4 grams of sugar, and 16 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Great Value Dessert Pizzas (Apple Cinnamon, Pineapple, and S’mores)

Great Value Dessert Pizzas

Pizza in the morning, pizza in the evening – Walmart has pizza for all the times!

(That fits the tune, right? Did you sing along as you read it? Solid.) ??It’s true, Walmart has decided we, as a species, don’t have enough solutions to our 24-hour pizza needs and has launched both a breakfast and a dessert line of pizzas. I, for one, will always and forever hail the cold-leftover-slice-of-pizza-straight-out-of-the-fridge as one of the most satisfying breakfast foods out there (HOW is it so delicious hot and cold?), so I went out to find the dessert situation it’s created.??I was lucky enough to stumble upon all three flavors of the new Great Value (I’ll be the judge of that) dessert pizzas and immediately knew I had to try them all — Pineapple, Cinnamon Apple, and S’ mores.

Great Value Cinnamon Apple Dessert Pizza Raw

Apple Cinnamon straight out of the box had enormous apple pieces atop the pizza along with blobs splattered of what I assume was supposed to be the icing drizzle. The word “drizzle” in the product description and image on the box is an outright lie.

Great Value Pineapple Dessert Pizza Raw

Pineapple had bright, appetizing pineapple pieces, a visible cinnamon sauce, and like its apple brethren, icing blobs trying their best to meet expectations of a “drizzle” but failing miserably.

Great Value S mores Dessert Pizza Raw

S’ mores appeared to be the closest to the image on the front of the package and had a plethora of marshmallows, chocolate pieces, and graham crumble. ??The prep instructions are straightforward, and the pizzas even come pre-wrapped sitting in an ovenable (real word, I looked it up) tray. So all you had to do was pull off the plastic wrap and pop it straight into the oven!

Great Value Cinnamon Apple Dessert Pizza Baked

With the Apple Cinnamon one, I didn’t realize when I got excited about the giant apple pieces that it takes longer than 18 minutes to heat those pieces of frozen apple. They were thawed but STILL COLD. They also had no added cinnamon/sugar flavor. When I bit into the pizza, I got a mix of decently-toasty sweet crust, lukewarm flavorless sugar goo icing, and a cold mass of apple that filled my mouth with cold liquid when I bit into it and didn’t taste like anything. It. Was. Horrible.

Great Value S mores Dessert Pizza Baked

The s’ mores pizza looked and smelled the most appetizing of the three. I mean, are we surprised? The crust was perfectly baked, solidly crispy on the bottom, but very soft (and thicker than I thought it would be) throughout. Honestly, this tasted like a big open-face chocolate babka with marshmallows, and I wasn’t mad at it. But I do wish the graham crumble and marshmallows had a strong enough flavor to compete with the chocolate. It was definitely the best of the three but didn’t quite live up to the s’ mores hype.

Great Value S mores Dessert Pizza Closeup

Sidebar about the crust – all three dessert pizzas say they’re made on a waffle crust. I tried really hard to believe what I was eating was a waffle base, but it wasn’t. It was still delightful, but more of a sweetened dessert focaccia than a waffle. There weren’t even any square indents.

Great Value Pineapple Dessert Pizza Baked

I realize that when I say this, many of you will roll your eyes so loud that I’ll be able to hear it — I like pineapple and ham pizza.

(Please stay calm)

Once baked, the Great Value Pineapple Dessert Pizza has a flavor that I imagine a pineapple upside-down cake on cinnamon toast would have. The crust was fine. It was sweet and definitely not a waffle. The cinnamon sauce could have had more of the warm spice, and the fruit chunks were delightful. Though, I’d still pick the cake version if forced to choose. For those of you who hate the golden fruit on pizza, this probably isn’t good enough to make a turncoat out of you.

Great Value S mores Dessert Pizza Slices

Overall, there’s a LOT of food for less than $5 with these pizzas, but the s’ mores one is the only one worth buying.

Purchased Price: $4.74 each
Size: 23.95 oz. (Apple Cinnamon), 23.55 oz. (Pineapple), 20.7 oz. (S’mores)
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 2 out of 10 (Apple Cinnamon), 5 out of 10 (Pineapple), 6 out of 10 (S’mores)
Nutrition Facts: (1/5 pizza) Cinnamon Apple – 320 calories, 11 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 370 milligrams of sodium, 51 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 19 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein. Pineapple – 310 calories, 10 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 330 milligrams of sodium, 49 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 18 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein. (1/4 pizza) S’mores – 420 calories, 12 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 430 milligrams of sodium, 74 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 30 grams of sugar, and 8 grams of protein.