Leave it to the movie-loving kid here to give a spontaneous post about how fast food ultimately got the best/worst of him. For this past Independence Day or Annual BBQ & Fireworks Day as I like to call it, I found myself strangely torn between two items for someone else to concoct for me. On one hand I craved the good ol’ reliable cheeseburger from Sonny’s; but while rummaging through a list of coupons–since that’s just what unemployed college graduates do–I stumbled upon the Chicken Parmesan Pizza from Papa John’s. The fact this little “specialty pizza” was only $10 for a large pie was certainly appealing. Combine that with a lovely picture online further building my curiosity and ten minutes of wall-tearing contemplation and I decided to try something different. Sure, I knew Sonny’s would deliver on a cheeseburger, but let’s be honest, knowing what to expect is just…boring.
With all that behind me, I ordered the pizza, grabbed a $10 plastic bottle of vodka from Walgreens and proceeded to pick my pie up. I must say the guy at the shop was quite friendly which, even with only 30 seconds of smalltalk, made me feel assured I’d get something good. As I returned outdoors I almost immediately got a strange but very apparent whiff of what I initially thought was a weird tomato sauce. A few seconds later I realized it must have been the parmesan cheese. Normally I’m one to check my pizza right when I set it in the passenger seat, but I wanted to keep myself in suspense and feast my eyes when I got home. So I let the scent build my anticipation and as I got myself ready to eat, I opened the pizza box.
Talk about a Michael Douglass in Falling Down moment right here. I mean, I know fast food places aren’t exactly known for matching advertised pictures, but pizza tends to be a different story. On the seldom occurrences I do order from one of the big three (Papa John’s, Pizza Hut and Domino’s) I at least get a pizza that looks the part and rightly made. This just screamed apparent laziness.
“Hey, who knows?” I reassured myself. “It’s the taste that counts, so let’s see if it gets that down.” After all, Wendy’s Double Stack burgers are never neatly handled, yet they’re always tasty and filling. So one difficult slice-tearing moment later, I bit into a chicken-topped piece. The verdict? Let’s just say I felt a bit like Gordon Ramsey when he tries failing restaurant items on Kitchen Nightmares. I might be exaggerating, but you see the point. A couple more bites only confirmed to me what the pizza’s appearances already spoke. This thing was literally a regular cheese pizza with chicken poppers slid on top. In fact, on a couple occasions a popper rolled off and I tried them on their own. I’m convinced they were frozen and heated in a microwave before being put on the pizza.
Now like I said, I don’t expect fast food to be perfect or exactly as it indicates on the picture, but I at least expect to get something different and notably tasty with a “specialty pizza.” What I got was a regular Papa John’s cheese pizza (which I’m normally fine with) topped with store brand skin balls. The only reason I’d consider this pizza down the line is if a friend and I were going to split it and I want cheese while he wants a topping; at least here the chicken will come off easier and leave less residue than say, pepperoni.
In all seriousness, this isn’t a tough pizza to make right. I probably would’ve felt less ashamed of what I ordered if it looked appeasing. Anyone who can make a half decent pizza can outdo this, and probably with as much effort. Just proceed with preparing your pizza the normal way, take actual pieces of chicken and put them on top of the crust/tomato sauce, sprinkle them with parmesan cheese (or save this for the end) and then cover the entire thing with regular cheese. Same idea, one ingredient swap and a slightly different order/layering of the ingredients. But hey, I’m no chef, just a common customer.
Set aside the fact this pizza was a stale disappointment and we have a cheese pizza with a slightly different texture. Maybe that’s not a bad thing, since I like cheese pizza as it keeps things simple, tasty and enjoyable. But I can’t deny that this was a blunt reminder of how unfulfilling fast food can be, and it’s all the more reason why I stopped bothering with it almost all together. This is one pizza I certainly don’t need to think twice on.