I probably get the frozen pizza question on 85% of tours. Since I spend so much time eating at pizzerias and making pizza at home, I’m rarely in the situation that requires a stockpile of frozen provisions. But this weekend, Hurricane Irene’s arrival in New York canceled all public transportation and temporarily closed a ton of businesses, giving me a great excuse to check out a department of the pizza universe with which I have little experience. I ran across the street to my local grocery store and picked up a small sampling of their frozen pizza options.
When you’re checking out the frozen pizza section in New York, you know there’s something wrong. I had to walk right past a surprisingly-open pizzeria to get to the grocery story, but my dedication to the experiment was so great that I carried onward through the automatic door, past the produce, around the chip display and across to the Lean Cuisine vicinity. This is what I found.
ROUND 1: AMY’S v. KASHI
These companies both have the organic, natural, real ingredient angle covered. Amy’s has a ton of organic ingredients listed but Kashi’s ingredient list is full of science words. There’s more total fat, saturated fat and carbs in Amy’s but more sodium in Kashi. But I’m not eating this pizza for health reasons, I’m eating it for taste.
Amy’s white pizza (broccoli and spinach) had really nice crust texture that both crunched and chewed at the same time. The topping was lovely and not too rich or creamy, as I had feared. There’s mozzarella, Parmesan and ricotta on this thing, which could spell disaster. Luckily, it spelled “delicious.”
On the other hand, Kashi’s Mushroom Trio and Spinach pizza really lost me with their crust. It was dull and lifeless, maybe even a bit dry. The toppings were really nice and I loved the flavor combination, but it didn’t beat Amy’s. One big plus for Kashi is their box, which looks pretty and is made from 100% recycled paper.
ROUND 2: WHITE ROSE v. MR. P’s
Since Round 1 featured a pair of “healthy” frozen pizza options, I decided that Round 2 should be the other end of the spectrum. According to their website, White Rose services supermarkets in the NY/NJ area. They’re pretty much the budget version of general supermarket necessities. There’s not a ton of information about Mr. P and his frozen pizza empire on the Internet, but we can assume a similar level of quality. I’ve read reports of this pizza selling for 79 cents at Walmart. I can’t believe I paid almost $2 for it. It’s an outrage. Price aside, let’s see how they stack up.
Mr. P’s Cheeseburger pizza may be the most flavorless item of food I’ve ever ingested. It has even less flavor than air. I’m shocked to read the massive ingredient list, where it is clear that an attempt was made to inject taste into this dull disc of nothing. I’m personally offended by the lack of anything in this pizza. It may be worse than a pizza that tastes horrible. I knew I was taking a risk by buying this in the first place, but the result was much worse than I anticipated. Beware.
The White Rose pepperoni pizza tasted as expected. The pepperoni is cut into little cubes instead of coins. Maybe it’s easier for the machines to pack that way. The crust shows minimal effort as far as texture is concerned. It’s more like a vessel for the pepperoni nibs than anything you’d want to eat. It looks like the folks at White Rose are aware of this issue because they’ve completely covered the crust surface with ingredients, leaving no handle bar behind. I guess I shouldn’t have expected more from a $1.25 pizza.
As expected, the first round completely blew the second set of samples out of the water. Round 1 was in the $8 range but this heat is way down to the $1 – $2 dregs. I guess they work if you’re really hungry and don’t have much cash, but I truly believe that the boxes taste better than the pizzas within. If you’re stocking up for a hurricane, I’d recommend holding out for the classier “organic” pizzas. Amy’s gets my vote in this roundup.