Review: New Hand-Tossed Pizza from Pizza Hut
Can anything please us? In the quick-serve industry, menus are kept somewhat fresh by limited time offerings made available throughout the year. Some places can’t seem to focus on their tried and true menus anymore with the onslaught of new products being dished out. So the tired public response is usually a cry for these companies to get back to their roots. McDonald’s Mighty Wings seemed a bit forced to me and McDonald’s in 2013 was a good example of a company probably doing a little too much with new menu items. With every new item McDonald’s released in 2013 you could probably create a brand new full restaurant menu. When it comes to some menu items, a version 2.0 and beyond is sometimes a business strategy to bring in the haters and attempt to say, “hey, you hated this before, but we’ve improved!”. Enter the new Hand-Tossed Pizza from Pizza Hut.
I for one was a Pizza Hut hater for years. Besides being a fan of the original P’Zone, there wasn’t much appeal to Pizza Hut for me. In my close-minded perception of Pizza Hut, I associated my hatred with something that I was once indifferent to, but then developed an aversion for… the Pan Pizza. The Pan Pizza is Pizza Hut’s bread and butter and there came a time many years ago where I grew sick of it and its overly heavy, salty, greasy, buttery style. To this day I can barely stomach a single slice of it (I tried recently). Getting out of my tiny box and opening myself to other Pizza Hut options, I’ve come to familiarize myself with their LTO’s in recent years and that opened myself up to the possibility of some silver lining. With those preconceived notions of the Pizza Hut brand put aside, I started to get reacquainted with Pizza Hut’s hand-tossed style about a year ago and came to like it enough that it became my favorite of the Big 3 pizza brands. Sure enough, the hand-tossed style which I was now fond of was prepping for a makeover in 2014.
With the new Hand-Tossed Pizza we’re being treated to “A lighter, airier crust with a delicious buttery garlic flavor.” One-third of the pizza box is plastered with “DRUM ROLL PLEASE” as if to say this is a really big deal. Obviously Pizza Hut is just trying to sell us on what a major event in pizza this is, but to me it really wasn’t so major, and for that I am thankful. When I find something I like, I don’t want it changed too much. I felt when Domino’s went through their pizza makeover, I found myself disliking it more and more with every purchase. The Domino’s change ended up being too different for me and suffered because the toppings remained identical. Domino’s new recipe pizza became a mix of new and old and didn’t blend as well as I’d like. With Pizza Hut, the change is subtle, yet effective. The lighter, airier crust was noticeable to me, but not “DRUM ROLL PLEASE” worthy. It’s a more delicate chew when you get to the end of the pizza and the scaled back density made for a softer crust. Looks-wise, besides the slight appearance of garlic butter seasoning, the new Hand-Tossed Pizza looked exactly the same upon opening the box. This is supposedly going to vary from pizza maker to pizza maker since Pizza Hut is encouraging more freedom when stretching the new hand-tossed style. They want a more “handcrafted” pie and employees are no longer using a roller on the dough, which is supposed to help preserve air bubbles in the baked crust. My pizza looked as cookie-cutter as they come, but maybe my expectations got in the way since I figured the pizza was actually going to look different based on what Pizza Hut was hinting at.
The pizza box also mentions “Cheese and toppings right to the edge” and maybe I’m really not understanding what they mean by that, but if you look at the pictures, it looks like any other traditional pizza with a pizza crust clearly visible so what do they mean by right to the edge? About that pizza crust, the garlic butter seasoning was great. It’s not an oily brushed on butter like Domino’s so you’re not getting a grease-soaked pizza box. The garlic butter seasoning had a perfect application that boosted the crust flavor enough that you’ll think twice about not eating the crust (if you’re one of those people). Think of the crust like lightly seasoned garlic bread sticks. The seasoning adhered to the crust well and it wasn’t overused with my pizza so it didn’t end up all over my fingers.
You can see the tiny air bubbles on close inspection of the crust, but I never really gave a really close inspection of the previous hand-tossed style. The crust does feel softer and lighter, but not so much to make the pizza feel completely limp. I did find the structure to be not as stiff as the previous crust. For toppings I went with pepperoni, sausage, green peppers, and onions. The cheese, sauce, and toppings will be familiar so the only changes are the slight alterations to the crust. This is definitely not worthy of Pizza Hut exclaiming, “PIZZA WILL NEVER BE THE SAME”. That said, I really liked this pizza.
In conclusion I don’t think the new Hand-Tossed Pizza is enough of a change to have a ton of people changing their opinion on Pizza Hut pizza. If you liked hand-tossed before, I’m sure you’ll still like this. It’s not a lateral move and it’s not a drastic makeover so I think Pizza Hut treaded carefully here. I like the change because it’s improved, but familiar. The biggest issue is probably Pizza Hut advertising the change in a way that might convince the public that it’s a lot more different than it is. Less is more with the new Hand-Tossed Pizza from Pizza Hut and it’s just enough of an improvement to be a worthy buy.
Pros: Garlic butter seasoning on the crust tastes great. Less chew to the crust.
Cons: The change is really subtle so temper your expectations if you had any. Pizza Hut's approach to promoting this upgraded pizza style was way too hyped.
Price: $10 any size, any toppings deal
Overall GrubGrade: 8.00/10
More Info: http://www.pizzahut.com
Roughly 330 calories per large slice for my specific pizza