October 19, 2016
Going to Pizza Hut meant a lot as a kid. They had good video games and adequate rubber ball vending machines, but, more importantly, they had the best pizza around. Sometimes, if you read a few books in school, their Book It! program would give you free pizza.
It was my favorite place to eat. I remember thinking if I ever got the death penalty and had a last meal, it would be a Pizza Hut pizza with sausage. It made getting the death penalty not seem so bad.
I even stuck with them after a friend and I went there to dine-in and our waitress said that we had to pay for our food before we ate because other kids were dining and dashing there. We paid for our pie beforehand, though on the walk home, with our extremely limited combined knowledge of lawsuits, we began to plan on suing Pizza Hut for discrimination. We were certain we were going to be rich, however, our case never went anywhere.
Later on in high school, I once dined-in at this same Hut location with some friends when I noticed they had a weird jukebox on the wall. This wasn’t a regular CD jukebox, this one was connected to the internet so I could play almost any song I wanted. (This was new at the time.) To test it out, I played as many selections from Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band’s nightmarish classic “Trout Mask Replica” as my $5 would allow, then watched the confusion and horror wash over the faces of unsuspecting families eating dinner.
I probably only ruined their night, but I’ve always hoped I changed the life of one of those kids that night and they grew up to start an awesome noise band.
Over the years, the tantalizing allure of Pizza Hut grew weaker. The pizza could still be great but now only sometimes. It was often underwhelming, either undercooked or overcooked. Plus, there were usually cheaper pizza options available elsewhere.
Like many chain restaurants, the increasing variety of fast-food options has caused Pizza Hut’s sales to dwindle over the years. To combat this, they seem to be going the Burger King route of debuting one new product after another and hoping one will stick. This year already saw the release of the almost 2-square-foot Big Flavor Dipper pizza and the Bacon Stuffed Crust, which we previously reviewed.
For their new pizza, the company decided to make a mashup with grilled cheese sandwiches, the savior of the culinary challenged everywhere.
Grilled cheese sandwiches only need three ingredients: butter, bread and cheese. It’s a very cheap meal, unless for some reason you buy one at a fancy food truck, in which case the price magically skyrockets to like $9.
In this press release, Pizza Hut notes that one of the catalysts for creating the Grilled Cheese Stuffed Crust Pizza is that “cheese is rapidly becoming one of America’s favorite foods.”
Hold up … “rapidly becoming”? At a time when you have the option to put it on almost any food in the country, how could cheese get any more popular? America’s love of cheese is not a new thing. You’re a pizza company. You should know this by now.
Since Pizza Hut has already made multiple variations of their stuffed crust pizza, a grilled cheese crust is already halfway there, though instead of only mozzarella, the Grilled Cheese Stuffed Crust Pizza also comes loaded with cheddar. To create a grilled cheese look, they then cover the crust with butter and breadcrumbs.
I mentioned this in the Bacon Stuffed Crust review, but it still applies here: One of the best parts of a Pizza Hut pizza is the original crust. When prepared well, it’s the perfect balance of butter and crunch.
Unfortunately, the stuffed crust pizzas screw with the formula — and the grilled cheese version even more so. Sure, the texture is a neat grilled cheese surrogate, but the crust now reminded me of Domino’s, which is usually inferior.
The pizza itself was very good. Their sauce has a sweetness to it that makes their pizzas unique. They also have cooking pepperoni down to a science, with the thin slices becoming crispy brown on the edges. Just superb pepperoni slices.
The real test of this pie is the actual “grilled cheese” part, and I can say that it’s definitely better than the Bacon Stuffed Crust Pizza. Not a glowing appraisal, obviously.
Like most stuffed crusts, the inside cheese still tastes off even with the addition of cheddar. It’s very salty and lacking in actual cheesy flavor. Still, there is a ton of it. Just by picking up the pizza box, you can definitely feel the added weight of the cheese.
The bad part of bonus cheese is the eventual cooling off. As it approaches room temperature, the stringiness gives way to solidity and density. Chewing the grilled cheese crust sometimes feels like eating orange Play-Doh.
Reading the trades, I noticed fellow reviewers criticizing the chain for not using American cheese, the classic grilled cheese choice. I’m not an expert at pizza creation, but I would imagine it would be hard to get the consistency right to make a crust using American. While I agree that may be tastier, you can’t really fault them there.
Verdict: Solid and better than previous stuffed crusts. While it doesn’t exactly taste like a grilled cheese sandwich, for a pizza, I guess it’s pretty close. Still does not compare to the regular Pizza Hut crust.
Note: Last week while referring to a spiced wafer ice cream, I used the pun, “What are you waf-ing for?” I now realize that was wrong and a complete waste of everyone’s time. I sincerely apologize for my actions and hope we can all put the matter behind us.