Little Caesars’ Pretzel Crust Pizza is back, starting today. It’s one of those limited-time-only menu items that customers have clamored for frequently on social media, and I can practically hear people on the internet cheering right now. Or it could just be my fiancée, who swears by the thing and asks every week if it’s back yet. But here’s the thing: Technically, this isn’t really a pizza at all.
According to the press release, the Pretzel Crust Pizza debuted in 2014 and has hopped on and off the menu ever since.
This novelty item is pretty interesting, for lots of reasons. It’s got a pretzel crust, which is dotted with pretzel salt on the edges. And rather than tomato sauce, it opts for a base of creamy cheddar cheese sauce, topped with a blend of Muenster and mozzarella and slices of pepperoni. That list of ingredients and flavors sounds a lot like something you can grab at the ballpark or the movie theater. In addition to all that cheese, customers can also add on stuffed crust, too.
“We’re bracing ourselves for the predictable outcry on social media when it eventually goes away again,” Little Caesars Chief Marketing Officer Greg Hamilton said in the press release.
Delicious as it might be, I’m not entirely convinced that the Little Caesars’ Pretzel Crust pizza is a pizza at all. It’s true that pizza is such a broad category that sometimes it can be hard to define. But the Pretzel Crust Pizza presents some logistical hurdles.
No, a pizza doesn’t always have to have tomato sauce, as in the case of white pies, so it’s not just the base of cheddar cheese sauce on this “pizza” that’s throwing me off. It’s the combination of an unconventional sauce with an unconventional crust.
The pretzel part of the Pretzel Crust pizza is a technical issue. Pizza dough is almost always based off of bread dough, and a pretzel is admittedly a bready concoction (that is to say, it’s yeasted). But pretzels, in order to achieve their burnished hue and shiny texture, are given a liquid wash of lye. That process makes the finished product feel decidedly less like pizza, both in terms of presentation and flavor.
On the other hand, the thing is certainly shaped like a pizza, and since it comes from a chain that once debuted a menu item called the Batman Calzony, I guess it would be sort of pointless to argue the finer points of pizza legitimacy. Little Caesars will do what Little Caesars is going to do.
“We are thankful to have countless Pretzel Crust Pizza fans that are extremely vocal about their love for this product,” Hamilton said in the press release. “Despite bringing it back several times, it feels like the pretzel fervor has not waned.”
As I mentioned, my fiancée loves the thing. It’s definitely a fun limited-time item, although as you can probably tell, I’m a little mixed on it. Its fundamental pizza-ness is in question; that makes it harder for me to embrace it. I suppose if I opened my mind a little, I’d like it a little better, but I certainly can’t argue with the fact that it’s entertaining.
Perhaps anticipating this pushback, Little Caesars offers the option to customize the Pretzel Crust Pizza by swapping in tomato sauce for the cheddar cheese sauce. That helps, and I’ll be ordering at least one of these pies during its brief run on the menu. There’s no word on when it’ll go away again, so Pretzel Crust Pizza fans, now is your moment, whether you consider it a pizza or not.