Sunday, November 16, 2014


It's unquestionably one of the zaniest fast food offerings to come along in quite some time ... and is it also one of the best?

I love pizza. In fact, it's arguably my all-time favorite food. Similarly, Mexican food might just be my all-time favorite food genre ... as if you couldn't deduce that from all of the Taco Bell-related shit I post on this blog.

Interestingly enough, however, I've never really been a big fan of Mexican-style pizzas. I'm not quite sure what it is, but to me, the typical Tex-Mex ingredients just seem a better fit for tortilla wrappings instead of being encircled by dough and cheeses.

Which brings us to Papa John's latest publicity stunt ... the Fritos Chili Pizza.

For those of you unfamiliar with Sunbelt white trash cuisine, a Fritos chili pie is basically a bunch of salty corn chips smothered in Van Camp's sauce. Outside of fried brownies, it's quite possibly the fattest thing anyone could ever dare dream up, and of course, it's delicious as all hell.

So yes, this is indeed a pizza that's half legitimate and half Taco Bell dollar menu item. On the surface, it sounds gross and desperate as hell, but as it turns out ... this thing is actually pretty damned yummy.

Before we get into the pizza, I reckon we probably need to say a thing or two about Papa John's as an establishment. To me, they've always kinda' been a C-level chain, slightly better than Little Caesar's but lagging way behind Pizza Hut and about 400 miles behind legitimate deep dish pizza chains like Aurelio's. Also, as a long-suffering Raiders fan, I automatically hate them for putting Peyton Manning's Frankenstein-looking head on their box -- although true to the Broncos QB's on-field performance, I did manage to land this box on a season-ending interception, though.

The pie itself is pretty much what you would expect. It's a standard, circular pizza, only with a chili base instead of marinara sauce, and of course, an entire damn bag of Fritos dumped atop it.

As far as ingredients go, you get an expected clumping of onions, tomato chunks and cheddar cheese. The chili is a lot more meaty than beany, and it appears that the Fritos themselves are dumped on the pizza post-bake instead of being shoved into the oven along with the rest of the dish.

Believe it or not, the pizza itself ain't bad. Unlike most Mexican-flavored pizzas, this thing isn't preoccupied with being spicy, and thankfully, they kept it pretty sane with the onions -- I've noticed that, for whatever reason, most Mexi-Pies are just regular pizzas inundated with spices that make your breath smell extra bad.

Somehow, this thing STILL tasted like a pizza, despite the absence of tomato sauce or mozzarella. It really is the perfect merger of Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, and the chili used as a base is probably good enough to be canned and mass marketed, Steak 'N Shake style. Oh, and that complimentary banana pepper? An absolute necessity, if you want to eat the Fritos Chili Pizza like a real hombre.

As we can all agree upon, the absolute best thing about Papa Johns isn't its pizza, but rather, its sauces. Particularly, I dare you to find a better garlic dipping sauce offered in the States today -- why this stuff isn't sold in grocery stores, I will never understand.

It might sound a little gross, but dipping this thing in garlic butter turned the pie from a suprisingly enjoyable novelty to an absolute must-nom. You can just taste how unhealthy the mixture is for you, and obviously, that excess is gosh-darn delicious. If the Italians offered this shit to the Mexicans back in 1940, they probably would've joined the Axis Powers.

So ... is the Fritos Chili Pizza from Papa John's just a flash in the pan, half-sincere cashgrab, aimed directly at today's spiritually vacant Gen Y consumer? Why, of course it is, but it's one of the more enjoyable hipster-themed fast food offerings to make its way to the masses in quite awhile. It's really stupid sounding, but shockingly palatable, and there is no way in a thousand hells this thing will remain on the official restaurant roster for more than a few more weeks. 

If you haven't given this thing a try, you might want to hurry to your local Papa John's and pick up a box while you still have time. Clearly, this is a one-and-done deal earmarked for extinction ... heck, by the time this thing even gets posted, it'll probably be a discontinued item


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