THE PIZZA GRAVEYARD.
What types of emotions run through your soul when staring at this photo of a Pizza Hut burning to the ground? Hatred? Disgust? Sadness? Fear? Laughter? Relief? Freedom?
It’s an appropriate photo for TNUC to enter the final grieving process for the victims of pizza extinction. Over the years we’ve had to bid farewell to a number of pizza products that have been laid to rest in a little place we like to call the The Pizza Graveyard. Some items are missed by many who long for their return – while others are just too weird and nasty – and should probably just rot and die! Today we count down the top (5) lost pizza products of all time…
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#5 – The Priazzo from Pizza Hut!
The Priazzo was Pizza Hut’s hot new explosion in 1985. The pizza featured a bottom crust and a top crust with a variety of ingredients stuffed between, then was topped with additional sauce and cheese before baking. The company marketed the Priazzo by making it look like a classic Italian delicacy with commercials (featuring voice-over work by Percy Rodriguez, the horror trailer guy!) depicting old Italy and the legendary story of the Priazzo. Many people claim that this was Pizza Hut at their absolute peak. From all of the restaurant chain’s innovations throughout the decade (both good and bad), the Priazzo is the one people most hope for a return.
Some of us are old enough to remember that Pizza Hut wasn’t always disgusting. Long before they were stripped of their signature red-roof and reduced to being crammed next to the check-out aisle in Target or blended with Taco Bell in junky plazas, the ‘Hut was a pretty respectable pizza chain. Their food didn’t sit under hot lights for 9 hrs before being sold to people. The pizza actually took a little time to cook, which was a good sign of some kind of quality going on. Pizza Hut’s attempt at quality ended up being the demise of the Priazzo. The pies took too long to cook according to the big wigs, so they ripped the Priazzo from the menu and thus began the downfall of the franchise.
#4 – Pizza Crunchabungas!
Smack in the middle of the TMNT explosion saw the release of a number of pizza-related products, one being these little pizza flavored corn snacks that were supposed to resemble pizzas but seriously just looked like Honey Comb cereal. The “pizza” flavor may have been questionable, but the presentation certainly was not. There wasn’t a single self-respecting pizza enthusiast or Ninja Turtle fanatic that roamed down the snack aisle and didn’t do cartwheels and jumping-jacks when seeing this bag on the shelves. The artwork featured the Turtles and their beloved ‘Pizza Shooter’, which many kids had waiting for them at home at the time.
You can bet that if these were still surviving there would be empty bags rolling around like tumbleweeds in the TNUC backyard treehouse. The Ninja Turtles were definitely to blame for so many pizza obsessions over the past thirty years.
The commercial is something to really talk about as well. It features the Turtles debuting in claymation form, done by the guy who created the California Raisins, Will Vinton. Watch that here.
#3 – L A R G E Mama Celeste!
It’s a simple notion. If you’ve ever been broke, drunk or just acted like a typical 13 year old, then you’ve eaten a Mama Celeste ‘Pizza-For-One’. Let’s also hope that you’ve never forgotten about it in the oven because all it takes is a few hours and they turn into hockey pucks (it still happens at the TNUC lair). But here’s where things get complicated…do any of you remember the option to buy Mama’s LARGE pizzas? For years my only notion of these existing was from repeated viewings of Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead and seeing the packaging during the “who’s gonna get a job?” pizza box toss. It was all myth and speculation, until I saw this commercial.
Still, I’ll believe it when I see it in-person. If any frozen pizza experts can confirm or maybe have some packaging still laying around, send it my way. Until then I’ll keep buying four boxes of Celeste Pizza-For-One’s at a time to meld them into a large version to pretend they are a reality.
#2 – Keebler Pizzarias!
The only reasoning behind not manufacturing these delicious pizza chips must be that the Keebler elves hate all of us and enjoy seeing society suffer. I hate to point the finger at a family of happy elves that live in a tree, and who knows why they would harbor these feelings, but I can’t think of any other excuse.
Pizzarias can’t be compared any other pizza-flavored chip because the magical pizza dust coating is something that hasn’t been achieved since, even by Doritos. These heavenly treats were enjoyed by all walks of life – but if you really wanted to reach high performance levels – having a few bags of Pizzarias lined up for your TGIF movie night made you an untouchable beast. Pair that with that sweet plastic smell of a Blockbuster VHS rental tape and you’re pretty much knocking on heaven’s door.
*Big thanks to Matt from Dino Drac for reminding me about these. He’s running a “Snacks I Want Back” feature that we highly recommend checking out!*
#1 – McPizza!
Now to the grand finale. During the early 1990’s McDonald’s released the dreaded and controversial McPizza, the ultimate bastard-child of all pizzas across the world. Now hungry customers could enjoy breakfast, lunch AND dinner (and death) at their favorite neighborhood fast food restaurant. Immediately your eyebrow can’t help but raise when you read “Made fresh…and served hot from the oven” on the advertisement. McDonalds knew right from the bat that people were going to automatically assume the worst. Then again even bad pizza can be good enough, given the situation.
The McPizza originally began as a family-sized pizza that was brought out to the table by an employee and placed on a raised rack in the center of the table (see commercial). Later it was scaled down to a personal-sized pizza.
After it’s Canadian run the McPizza spread to US markets but eventually got pulled because the cook time was 11 minutes and people started to grow impatient. In an effort to maintain their “fast” food reputation McDonald’s scrapped the McPizza.
¡¡¡ UPDATE !!! We just learned that as of January of 2015 there are still two McDonald’s franchises that sell the McPizza! Thanks to owner Greg Mills, he’s kept the pizzas burning nonstop at both the Pomeroy, Ohio and Spencer, West Virginia locations.
“According to employee Judy Norman, it’s the same pizza as they sold when she started there 11 years ago and it’s presumably the same that children everywhere enjoyed throughout the 1990s.” says Ashley Csanady of Canada.com.
Wow. The next time you’re even remotely close to these locations during your next cross-country family outing, you definitely need to try the McPizza…at your own risk!
Honorable Mentions in The Pizza Graveyard:
Pizza Hut’s BIGFOOT
Doritos Pizza Cravers (Doritos x Pizza Hut collaboration)
McCain Ellio’s Turtles Mini Slices
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Have you tried the pizza-flavored Pringles? They are very close to the Pizzaria chips, at least how i remember them. I still prefer Pizza Hut to this day. Even the crappy personal pans at Target are better than most of the other medicore pizza around.
I haven’t! Still waiting on Pizza Hut to make a triumphant return though. They could be so much better
I am playing catch up on the site and must say this article was fantastic and made me hungry. I dont remember ever seeing large Celeste’s even in the 80s early 90s when my Dad kept the small ones in the freezer for late night snacks. I to this day still grab a few and enjoy them very much honestly, I do wish they still made the “zesty four cheese” versions, those were my favorite, but the pepperoni and sausage and pepperoni are great snacks. I was never a Pizza Hut guy growing up in NY we just had the local Pizza places, But I do love the nostalgia their history provides. I cant lie though, I always prefer dominos for chain pizza. I remember those Pizza chips though, they along with the keebler tater skin chips were great.
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I fondly remember the old Pizza Hut’s for, not only the Pizza, but the original decor, red checkered tablecloths and curtains, and most fondly of all, the iconic Early American mate’s chairs. These chairs are distinctive for their guitar shaped seats, ornate spindles and leg structures, and elegant curved and scolloped back rails. I also like the way my hips fit in the spindle back. I today have four mate’s chairs around my dining table at home that closely resemble the ones that Pizza Hut used to have in their old restaurants. I purchased those chairs in 1988 at a Sears store. I’ve had the chairs for nearly three decades, and they’re still in good shape. Thats because there’s only one way I sit in them (Hips to the spindles). I never slouch, lean back on two legs, or push the chairs out from under the table with all of my weight on them. I stand up and push them back with the backs of my legs.