Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Dear Papa John,

It pains me to write this letter. Honest to goodness, I’m usually your number one fan (I’ve been a member of the “Fan of Papa John’s” Facebook group since 2008). But right is right, and the American Consumer’s sense of duty in me hasn’t slept for weeks.

I think your pizza is great. I really do. Nine times out of ten it comes to my doorstep hot and fresh, made with those trademark “better ingredients” and always accompanied by packets of that wine-of-the-dipping-sauce-world garlic butter jus. Even my grandparents, products of the Depression who would rather eat leftover Vienna Sausage tetrazzini than pay for takeout food, order pizza from you. What can I say? My family loves your hand tossed crust and fresh-tasting pizza sauce.

And so it was with sunny anticipation that I decided to try something new from your menu. I ordered my pizza online for the first time and, while navigating through the process, I noted that I could “upgrade” to a pan pizza for a token surcharge. Feeling a little bit saucy, I decided to take the plunge.

Thirty five-ish minutes later, Arthur was at my doorstep. (I remember his name merely because of its novelty, not because I have personal relationships with my pizza delivery vendors.) Arthur delivered the pizza with utmost class, like a butler trained in the sitting rooms of Mayfair. I took the box with greedy anticipation. I make it a rule to act civilized in life, but come on, man, this is pizza!

I immediately noticed the temperature of the box. It wasn’t boiling. It wasn’t hot. It wasn’t even warm. If lukewarm describes the temperature of a cardboard box you could buy in a 72 degree Office Max supply store, then, yeah, I’ll give you that; it was lukewarm.

I opened up the box. Like every man who is abruptly called upon to revise his entire scheme of values, I was a bit undone. What was I staring at? Could this be my pizza? I’ll admit, I was at first taken aback by the square shape of the pizza. I was expecting round, but tomato tomato (please say that second “tomato” with an accent for effect), shape doesn’t much matter, I guess.

But, oh the rest of the pizza! The pieces were already broken apart, like it was made of Californian tectonic plates that no longer wanted to live in California. The cheese was only half-way melted. And I’m being generous when I say melted. I probably could have had a more melted product on that pie if I would have used my own sticks of string cheese kept outside the refrigerator for twenty minutes. And the crust! Oh, the crust! What normally should be the LeBron James of a pan pizza—the pinnacle, the climax, the point d’ appui—was a mockery of flour, yeast and water. It lacked any sort of character (not that I want my crust to be honest, chaste and true but...); if I had been chewing on Pillsbury croissant dough, I might not have noticed a difference. Maybe I was chewing on Pillsbury croissant dough. Do you outsource your pan pizza dough to General Mills?

I could go on, but why bother? I think you get my drift. It’ll be a few blue moons and a couple of real estate cycles before I ever order a pan pizza from you again.

With every good wish,

David Heywood


aubrey wegleitner said...

ha ha this post officially made you my favorite cousin.

Nellie said...

I hope you sent it to them cause you deserve a free pizza for all of that!

Anonymous said...

I really hope you sent this in. I love "the LeBron James of a pan pizza". You write so well. Thanks dave!!