I fell prey to a commercial that made my mouth water, and I have learned my lesson. Little Caesar's bacon-encrusted deep dish pizza spoke to me yesterday when dinnertime came, not only because of the mouth-watering image on TV, but also because I had nothing prepared to eat.
A red flag rose when I called in my order and was told it would be ready in only ten minutes. By then I had already committed and even given the unenthusiastic phone operator my name, so despite my misgivings and my concern about how a good pizza could possibly be prepared, baked, and boxed in ten minutes, I drove about a mile to pick up my order.I rarely eat pizza, so I don't know why the urge overcame me, but bacon. Really. Bacon, and also deep dish. I remember marvelous deep-dish Chicago-style pizzas when I was living in Charlotte. Back in the 1970s I would drive across town to Liberty Pizza to get a deep-dish pizza crammed full of tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, and pepperoni piled atop a deep-red sauce and crowned with thick, gooey, tasty cheese. I had that image in mind when I went to Little Caesar's for the first time in about 25 years. Yes, I had a vague recollection that the chain’s pizza 25 years ago was edible, but that was about it. Now, though, those commercials enticed me. Crispy-bacon-encrusted deep-dish pizza. My mouth couldn't wait to taste it.
When I reached the store in less than ten minutes, the pizza was ready already. How could it be? They must really throw those things together, I decided, until I saw a worker behind the counter pull another pizza out of a microwavable dish, and the realization hit me. Of course! No wonder I couldn’t order anything extra on my pizza that wasn’t listed on the menu on the Internet. These things are not made to order; they are premade and warmed a microwave, Ugh.
Again, I had already committed. They had my name, and I was standing in the store, so I asked for my pizza. A clerk who looked everywhere but at me mumbled some price I could barely hear and stared over my head while I dug out my money. Expressionlessly she pulled my change from the cash register and counted it out to herself, not me. She was someplace else entirely, possibly gaming on a yacht in Monaco, but certainly not counting change at a counter at Little Caesar’s Pizza. She turned to a warming shelf, pulled out a box that held my pizza, opened the box for my inspection, and looked over my shoulder while I viewed something that looked more like a burned sponge than a luscious bacon-encrusted deep dish pizza. I had committed to it, though, so I nodded, she closed the box, and I drove home. The worst was yet to come.
When I bit into the pizza, I felt texture--crispy bacon, soft bread-like deep-dish crust, and that was about it. Where was the sauce? Where was the cheese? Where was the taste?
It had pepperoni and some shards of things that were a bit tangy but unrecognizable scattered on top, little chips that mostly fell off when I lifted the pizza slice (if you can call a rectangle a slice).
The pizza had texture but no taste, no moisture, and no appeal. Even the crispy bacon that surrounded the pizza had very little bacon taste, probably the result of having been cooked much earlier and simply reheated when I placed my order.
Will it be another 25 years before I again buy a Little Caesar’s pizza? No, I think it will be more like never again. I will fast-forward past the pizza commercials when I see them again. Meanwhile, I still have a box full of pizza left over. Maybe if I add tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, ground beef, real cheese, and red sauce, the pizza will become edible.