Little Caesar’s is a relic from my childhood, which explains why the store is located in a small plaza with a family rental video outlet on one side and a pancake house on the other, across the street from a Walgreens. Suffice to say, I didn’t eat at Little Caesar’s very much as a kid. Living in a town with the population of less than eight thousand meant not many national chains were within walking distance. In fact, we had one national business: CVS, and it burned down.
Otherwise there was one of everything, and it was all locally owned. You have to live in a small town to know what it’s like for the owner of the local diner (as in singular diner) to not only personally know your parents, but to have the time to call them up to express disappointment that you took a handful of jelly packets home, and now you’re grounded because you made the family look poor.
I’ve been hesitant to try the new Little Caesar’s Soft Pretzel Pepperoni Pizza because, frankly, the place scares me. I scoped the place out while visiting the pancake house next door, and noticed that the interior is decorated almost exactly the same as my old high school men’s bathroom, minus the toilets and sink. There was nowhere to sit and eat, and they even had those gray water fountains. The kind that are sold for restrooms. Other than that, the only people you see smiling inside are the employees. The customers go in and out with the kind of secrecy and shame that I haven’t seen since video stores had those secret adult only rooms.
A new product is the only reason that I would ever step foot in a Little Caesar’s, and I mean a single foot because the counter is located directly in front of the door so you can get in, get your pizza, and be out before you’re recognized. The Soft Pretzel Crust Pepperoni Pizza is described as:
A large specialty pizza that starts with a flavorful, buttery, soft pretzel crust made fresh daily in store. It is topped with creamy cheddar cheese sauce, a blend of 100% real cheese, and pepperoni, and then finished with an irresistible four-cheese gourmet blend of Asiago, Fontina, Parmesan, and White Cheddar cheeses. Only Little Caesars offers a mouthwatering, premium pretzel crust pizza at a tremendous value, with no calling, waiting or online ordering hassle required thanks to the convenience of HOT-N-READY.
And they are correct. I don’t know how they do it, but without calling or ordering online, I walked into Little Caesar’s and the guy behind the counter smiled and said “hello, Connor, your Soft Pretzel Crust Pepperoni Pizza is ready,” and handed me the box. When I inquired about pricing, he assured me it’d been taken care of, and that I should also remember to feed my fish more often. I got home and checked my wallet to find six dollars missing, and the fish recently fed.
Damn those guys are efficient.
To call this pizza “hot garbage” would be offensive and inaccurate, because I’ve eaten hot garbage and felt less shame afterwards. You have to wonder what the logic was in taking a bread that is inherently salty (pretzel), throwing rock salt on top, adding in salty nacho cheese, and then covering it with salty pepperoni and salty cheese. When some entrepreneur decides to make the suicide booth from Futurama a real thing, pretzel pepperoni pizza with nacho cheese sauce is going to be one of the options.
The pizza is a giant pretzel, slaughtered in nacho cheese and then covered in the usual Little Caesar’s pizza “cheese.” The nacho cheese sauce is about the texture and quality of the stuff you’d find baked into the sidewalk after an unusually dry trip to the county fair. The mozzarella blend on top, on the other hand, is the cheese that the county fair rejected because it spoiled. The nacho cheese is sickeningly present and in far too high quantities.
Rather than having a pizza with a cheese sauce, I would rather that Little Caesar’s used red sauce and included the cheese as an optional dipper. Once you get past the chewy, not crispy, pizza, the pretzel crust is dry and uninteresting, just begging for something cheesy or saucy to dip in.
Ultimately, I think the cheese sauce really killed this product. Still, it’s a nice idea.
Verdict: 1/5. Make a version of this with red sauce and dipping cheese and I’ll be on board.