Hey, when was the last time you had something with pretzel in it? Not like, actually eating a pretzel, but when was the last time you ate a pretzel bun, or pretzel crust, or anything made with pretzel? Months ago, right? Right. So why is it, on June 29, 2015 on this dear sweet planet Earth, that Little Caesars decided to re-introduce its Soft Pretzel Crust Pizza?
Don’t get us wrong – it’s not a bad pizza, at least in our opinion, but the pretzel fad is over. Their last limited time offer was a bacon-crusted deep dish pizza, which was sensible because bacon will never die as long as Americans continue to love making their hearts suffer (as Wendy’s has recently proven with their Baconator Fries), but the Soft Pretzel Crust Pizza got a lukewarm reception the first time it was around when the pretzel fad was actually relevant. We can’t claim to read the minds of the Little Caesars corporate brains, but this just seems like a bad idea.
Regardless, we missed out on an opportunity to review the pizza proper the first time it came around and figured we’d jump on it while it was still (moderately) relevant again. We actually adored the pizza when it was new, so we really wanted to see if a few months off the menu would change it much.
After the jump, we’ll give this out-of-date fad cash-in another try and see if it’s gotten any better… or worse.
Little Caesars introduced their Soft Pretzel Crust Pizza during the tail end of pretzel mania. It formally rolled out to most of their restaurants on September 1, 2014. For reference: Wendy’s released their Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger in July 2013, and then swapped it out for brioche burgers in November. Though it enjoyed a brief comeback later, its first run marked the end of the pretzel fad.
The initial reception to the Soft Pretzel Crust Pizza was mixed, with some people enjoying the pretzel texture of the crust and the cheesy gooey sauce, and others disliking the abundance of salt.
Its intentions were to only last until October 26, stopping just short of the Halloween season, but due to allegedly surprising demand, Little Caesars extended the run all the way to the end of February.
There must be some critical dissonance going on here, because we don’t really remember a lot of people begging for this product to stay. We had tried the Soft Pretzel Crust Pizza during its original run, and found it to be utterly delicious and something worth craving, but it quickly faded from our memory once it had been formally discontinued. It was a good pizza, but the old stand-by of the Pepperoni Hot-And-Ready quickly filled any void it had left in our hearts.
We don’t know if the recipe has changed at all in the meantime, but we’re hoping it hasn’t.
The first and most important thing about the pizza was left unchanged: it is a mouth-annihilating salt bomb. In lieu of a traditional tomato sauce, the pizza is given a layer of nacho cheese-esque sauce, on which is laid mozzarella cheese. It is topped with pepperoni, and then covered with a four-cheese blend of asiago, parmesan, fontina, and white cheddar cheeses. This would be salty enough on its own, but even more salt is directly added upon the pretzel crust itself, leading to a mouthfeel like a day at the seaside. If you truly love salt or are otherwise unconcerned with having hypertension, this might not be a bad thing, but it can make it a bit difficult to eat more than a few slices.
The cheese was actually very good, and we liked the cheddar sauce base which added a pleasant cheddar tang in comparison to the standard acidic tomato of regular Little Caesars pizza.
The four cheese blend is completely indistinguishable, however. All of the cheeses (asiago, parmesan, fontina, and white cheddar) taste like cheap parmesan that you’d get out of a shaker or a packet at any other pizza place, and they get clumped up with grease and moisture. To make matters worse, some unlucky slices get an undeservingly high amount of cheese, which… well, makes it taste and smell like feet. Not enough to ruin the whole pie, but still pretty unpleasant.
The crust itself isn’t really that big of a deal, sadly, since its flavors don’t really affect the rest of the dough. It has none of the soft chewy attributes of a good pretzel and none of the crunchiness of a good pizza crust, and it’s covered in large-grain salt. The only real way to eat it is by making sure you leave a bit of cheese on the edge, since trying to eat it dry is a quick trip to Dehydration City.
4 out of 5 – Worth Trying (Worth Getting Again)
For everything that we complain about this pizza, it’s actually one of our favorites. We can’t really articulate why, but we acknowledge that we do suffer from a serious addiction to salt and low-quality cheese. But we also have to acknowledge that this pizza may not be everyone’s cup of cheese sauce, and will take the most dedicated eaters of trashy foods to find this more than just edible. Fortunately, we’re all about that lifestyle.