In these bitterly divided times, Pizza Hut's new "grilled cheese in the crust" slop shall unite us

Each of America’s major pizza chains has a skill they specialize in. If you want good ads, you go with Papa John’s. If you want good (for a chain) pizza, you go with Domino’s. (Try the handmade pie, seriously.) If you want good gimmicks, you go with the Hut. The cocktail-weenie pie will never be equaled in terms of sheer car-accident Frankenfood morbid curiosity, but God love ’em, they keep trying. Unbeknownst to me, they rolled out a meat-pie-crust pizza in Australia last year that looks like a Sarlacc’s mouth and, I would guess, probably doesn’t taste much better. That’s the easiest degree of difficulty of Frankenfood, finding two foods that really don’t go together flavor- or texture-wise but sending them through the Brundlefly machine anyway out of pure curiosity to see what shakes out. It might not taste “good,” exactly, but it’ll taste decadent. That’s the touchstone of Frankenfood — decadence. There will come a day when Pizza Hut figures out a way to combine pizza and cheesecake, and the very thought of it will cause children to weep with horror. But we’ll eat it anyway because, hey, pizza and cheesecake. Somewhere in our amygdalas there resides the idea that if one type of comfort food is good, two types of comfort food together necessarily must be better. How much vomit has the world created, I wonder, to learn otherwise.

A higher degree of difficulty in Frankenfood is pairing comfort foods that do, kinda sorta, sound appetizing together. I think the Hut’s onto something with this one. All they’re doing is expanding on the appeal of stuffed-crust. In the end pizza is just a vehicle for cheese, and if there’s room in the car for mozzarella, there should be room for cheddar too. The fact that the add-on ingredient in this case isn’t foreign to pizza reduces the stunt factor somewhat but atones with a better flavor profile. And they’re doing more than just squirting some Velveeta into the crust — they’re going for a texture mind-fark too:

The difference between this new pizza and a more traditional stuffed crust are the cheese, bread crumb, and melted butter that top the crust, producing a crunchier texture reminiscent of a grilled cheese sandwich.

Watch the guy below ooh and ahh over that melted garlic butter. Yes, granted, a proper grilled cheese would be made with American cheese and actually grilled, but we burned the pizza authenticity bridge the moment we started screwing around with stuffed crusts years ago. Complaining about the authenticity of stunt pizza is like going to the Olive Garden and complaining that the chef isn’t actually Italian. You’re missing the point. You’re not there for authentic Italian, you’re there to find out whether they really will keep refreshing your breadstick basket after you’ve cleared it eight times. The question any Frankenfood connoisseur must ask himself is only this: Is this dish truly worthy of a little extra closure to my aorta? The answer in this case is obvious.

David Strom 7:01 PM on September 24, 2022