In this strange age of pizza shaming, when Pizzeria Uno has rebranded as Uno’s Chicago Grill, California Pizza Kitchen is deemphasizing flatbread in favor of tequila and quinoa, Domino’s is hawking cheesesteaks, and even Papa Goddamn John is hard-selling chicken poppers, Pizza Hut is staying true to the game.
Sure, they’ll toss you a stick of this or a wing of that if you insist, but these guys keep it realer than the rest by maintaining a sharp focus on their namesake delicacy. They didn’t change the name to Pizza And Whatever Else Your Heart Desires As Long As Your Heart Desires Bread Sticks And Buffalo Wings (Plus A Couple Weird Chocolate Things) Hut. No. These cats sell pizza!
Pizza Hut’s not afraid to get kinky with the pie, though. They’ll stretch definitions, they’ll push boundaries. You got to these days. While it’s true that the low-end restaurant market’s breakout stars of the last half-decade have risen by excelling in a narrow niche, that only works if your food is good. This pesky quality mandate disqualifies Pizza Hut from ever becoming the Chipotle or Shake Shack of pizza. No, they need to lean more toward McDonald’s traditional game plan of trying to be all things to all gluttons. (Despite McDonald’s recent talk of paring down the menu, those motherfuckers are out here selling lobster now!)
Recent Pizza Hut innovations have included the Cock-a-Doodle Bacon and Pretzel Piggy pies, both of which resort to “creamy garlic Parmesan sauce” and goofy names, but at least there’s chicken and bacon on the former, and salt and bacon on the latter. Not bad. There’s also an Old Fashioned Meatbrawl, which only has one kind of meat (balls), which makes for a pretty gentle brawl. The Hot and Twisted has salami, sliced jalapeños, and a pretzel crust. That actually sounds just about right, huh?
But that’s not what my editor sent me out for. No, I was charged with addressing this month’s official Weird Internet Food Thing. You know, the item that’s specifically designed to induce your elitist or otherwise uptight social-media connections to post “Ewww, that’s not food!” followed by all your egalitarian or otherwise gross pals to reply, “Eh, I’d bite that.”
The first thing you should know about this new weenie-enhanced joint is that it only comes in one size. Guess which? That’s right, friends: If you want your pizza to be hot-dog-bitten, you gotta live large. This means there’s plenty to share, if you’re the sort of deviant who would eat something called the Hot Dog Bites Pizza in the presence of other human beings. In the more likely event that you’re eating this alone in a tire-shop parking lot, the largeness means you can stuff some in your backpack for another rainy day. But should you?
Tough call. Before I plan your life for you, leftovers-wise, how about we take a brief detour to consider the plight of the poor junk-food blogger. I really wanted this pizza quest to go down one of two ways: If the Hot Dog Bites Pizza was the unmitigated abomination I expected, then that would have been a fun story to tell. And if it had somehow shocked my mouth by being a legitimately pleasurable experience, then I would have had some Pulitzer-worthy breaking news to report. But it didn’t play out that way, so I feel duty-bound to forgo the temptation to exaggerate in either direction.
All right, let’s break this baby down from the beginning. I ordered via Pizza Hut’s very user-friendly website; a large one-topping HDBP is $11.99. I should have gotten pepperoni, to use as a point of meat-reference in analyzing the dog bites, but for some damn reason I went with pineapple. So I clicked on pineapple, resisted the urge to monkey around with the default sauce and crust options (marinara, hot dog), and checked out. After you hit “Place Order Now,” Pizza Hut replies with an ominous confirmation headlined “Here’s What You’ve Created.” Indeed.
But remember, I’ve already disclosed that this pizza wasn’t singularly disgusting. It was just a regular, shitty Hut jam with pigs-in-blankets fastened around the perimeter. This isn’t a true Frankenfood like, say, the Taco Bell Quesarito, which tries to be at once a burrito and a quesadilla. The HDBP has a more modest, utilitarian goal: It wants to be a bunch of little hot dogs, and then it wants to be a pizza. This is designed not for the eXXXtreme eater, but for the indecisive over-eater. If you want way too damn much junk food, but you’re not sure exactly which junk food, well, here’s a couple different kinds; enjoy?
Pizza Hut is to be lauded for their hot-dog generosity. There are 28 bites, each 1.25-inches long. That’s nearly three feet of bonus meat just hanging out on the edge of your pizza! They’re acceptably tasty, too, provided you place them in the proper context, i.e., “Are they pretty okay for hot dogs affixed to the side of a mediocre chain pizza?” They’re very salty, but also a little meaty, and they have a tiny bit of snap to them, too. The blanket portion of the operation wasn’t quite as not-bad; too spongy and seemingly tainted by some kind of shiny, slimy garlic-butter lube.
As for the pizza, it’s Pizza Hut. You know the deal. The sauce is too sweet, the cheese is too salty, the whole thing is FINE I GUESS.
I can’t recommend getting this just for the novelty, as that’s in shorter supply than you might initially suspect, but if you’re looking for a simple, workmanlike way to acquire 35 inches of hot dog and eight slices of not-quite-good-but-fuck-it-you’ve-had-worse pizza, then dropping $11.99 on a Hot Dog Bites Pizza is a reasonably satisfying way to scratch that surprisingly boring itch.
Will Gordon loves life and tolerates dissent. He lives in Cambridge, Mass. Find him on Twitter@WillGordonAgain.
Image by Sam Woolley.
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