A few weeks ago I wrote about the horrors of a limited-release Pizza Hut perfume, which then had me thinking about my days working at a Pizza Hut kiosk when I was in college. Inside one of the dining halls was a Pizza Hut Express, where we cranked out personal pizzas (and regular sized special orders) that could be paid for with our dining hall cards. I regularly bought home a personal pizza after my shift, with my preferred toppings of tomato and bacon.
In the years since college, Pizza Hut has fallen far down on my list of favorites. (Does anyone remember when they first started doing pasta? They made this thing that was half-fettuccini Alfredo, half-red sauce that I used to adore.) Aside from the occasional hard-core hangover delivery -- we had a PH right around the corner from us in Fairbanks -- most of my go-to pizzas are from local joints, or even a decent grocery store take-out version; Sam's Club, for example, has a very serviceable pre-fab pizza.
When an angry commenter took me to task as a yuppie hipster prima donna for dissing Pizza Hut's flavor, I had to wonder: Am I missing something? Is Pizza Hut totally amazing and I just don't remember it?
The answer? Hell, no, dude. Pizza Hut pizza is not merely as disgusting as I remembered, it's more so. I ordered a personal pie with pepperoni ($4.50) and threw on an order of breadsticks ($2) when I went through the drive-through at the Pizza Hut Express on South Shepherd, and was immediately skeptical of my decision.
Peeking into the box I was treated to the sight of gloppy yellow cheese and thin, oily slices of pepperoni; the crust was also yellow, and shone with a layer of oil. I'm willing to believe that a regular pizza ordered from a non-Express Pizza Hut is marginally better, but by how much, really? I'm highly doubtful that the improvement would be in the "leaps and bounds" category. Even with fully-cooked and browned cheese, there is no way that much oil cooks off in the oven and this tiny pie was swimming in it. SWIMMING.
The taste of the pizza was, as expected, awful. The crust was oil-soaked and undercooked--unpleasant by any standard. I suppose I was lucky that barely any sauce was applied between cheese and dough, because the dough was undercooked and oily--additional moisture would be redundant. The cheese was shockingly salty; I tasted it on its own and it made my eyes water. It was more salty than the pepperoni! When cheese is saltier than cured meat, there is a problem.
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The breadsticks were really the saving grace of the experience, because they were at least cooked properly and the seasoning was more balanced. Where the pizza tasted like a salt lick, the breadsticks were kind of garlicky and cheesy (grated parmesan) and came with a slight-sweet-for-my-tastes-but-edible tomato dipping sauce.
Don't be tempted, but don't skip the drive-thru here, either -- PH Express shares their service with Taco Bell, where you will find the new Loaded Grillers to be both cheaper, and more delicious.