Chain Pizza

Reviews of pizza at chain restaurants.

Chain Reaction: Pizza Hut's Crazy Cheesy Crust

Slideshow SLIDESHOW: Chain Reaction: Pizza Hut's Crazy Cheesy Crust

[Photographs and illustrations: Niki Achitoff-Gray]

Last week, we told you that Pizza Hut had debuted a new, limited release pie. The Crazy Cheesy Crust ($12.99 with 1 topping) features 16 detachable "pockets," resembling bite-size bread bowls, brimming with a gooey five-cheese blend.

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[Photograph: Pizza Hut]

First of all, I don't consider myself a delusional person. I know that sponsored images of fast food products are hardly accurate representations of the products themselves. When McDonald's advertises a bacon cheeseburger, I know that their real life cheeseburger will be significantly less photogenic. But I also know that it will still contain bacon, cheese, and a burger.

Strictly speaking, I suppose that Pizza Hut's Crazy Cheesy Crust does indeed have a "Crazy" "Cheesy" "Crust." That said, it is also crazy not what I expected.

I placed an order for a large, half pepperoni, half mushroom and olive pie. It finally arrived a full 30 minutes after my 30-minute delivery estimate, so I was decidedly on the hangry side when I opened the box. Imagine my surprise when it actually resembled the ad:

Sadly, that's where the similarity ends. I didn't realize how high my expectations were until I went to tug away my melty nugget of cheese. Here's the thing. Nothing happened. That pocket turned out to be firmly rooted to the rest of the pie.

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I know, right?!?

I tend to personify my food whenever it presents an especially unique challenge, so I was already in deep conversation with this particular pizza. What I couldn't figure out was whether it was being tauntingly stubborn or just plain stupid. Either way, it was not being particularly cooperative.

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I finally managed to dislodge my elusive prize in a cathartically violent tearing motion/guttural growl. I was so self-satisfied that I was entirely ready to forgive the whole misunderstanding if I could just sink my teeth into some of that goopy, cheesy excess.

But...no. That would have been far too easy. The cheese—a blend of provolone, asiago, mozzarella, fontina, and white cheddar—was rock hard and profoundly unappealing. If you've ever microwaved a Polly-O String Cheese, doused it with salt, left it out overnight, and then, against all logic, put it in your mouth, you probably have a general idea of what I'm talking about. I'd chalk it up to the extended delivery time, but the rest of the pizza tasted totally fine, in a room-temperature-Pizza-Hut sort of way.

There's a slight crunch to the greasy, golden crust before it gives way to the bread. Tender and sweet, the pizza may not merit a Eureka! moment, but it certainly has the makings of a decent chain pie. Sure, the mushrooms taste more of oil than mushroom, and the olives are your average canned fare, but the pepperoni is satisfyingly salty and crisp, the cheese sufficiently gooey, that it's perfectly enjoyable. Especially if you don't concentrate too hard.

Which is why the Crazy Crust situation was so damn frustrating. In theory, it shouldn't have been such a sharp contrast to the rest of the pie. I couldn't understand why it would go so awry. So I did what any sane food critic would: I played with my food, and I played with it good.

Click through the slideshow to see the results »

About the author: Niki Achitoff-Gray is the associate editor of Serious Eats and a recent graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She's pretty big into oysters, offal, and most edible things. You can follow her on Twitter at @eatandcry.

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