Given my incredibly jaded attitude about everything in the fast food industry, I’m glad that there are still some announcements that I find difficult to believe when I hear them for the first time. It shows that I’m still at least partially a human being. And today was one of those times.
Monday afternoon, Herald & Review videographer Hugh Sullivan called me over to his desk to show me an advertisement for — wait for it — hot dog stuffed crust pizza from Pizza Hut. As in, a variation on the chain’s now-classic cheesy stuffed crust pizza, with, you know…hot dogs. Frankfurters, in the crust. A pizza pie, ringed by pigs in a blanket. Bonus: A “free mustard drizzle” as the element that ties it all together.
My initial reaction? Disbelief. “No,” I said simply. “No, that’s not true. This is a joke. This isn’t happening. It can’t be. I won’t accept this.” I stood there and stammered like any character in an anime who has just witnessed something terrifying and remains rooted in one spot for the next five minutes with his mouth open, quavering and going “Aaahhhhahhhhhaaa…”
As much as I would like, however, this isn’t a scenario dependent on my belief. As I verified in blog after blog that this is indeed a real food item currently being offered at Pizza Huts in the U.K. (but not in the U.S. yet, as hard as that is to believe), it became more and more obvious that this is something I cannot deny: Hot dog-stuffed pizza crusts are a reality, just like burger pizzas with pickle chips, Dorito tacos or chicken sandwiches with buns made of chicken skin. And it’s not going away.
The funny thing about this whole product, though, is the realization that the specific reason for its absurdity is largely due to placement of the hot dogs. In and of itself, “hot dog pizza” isn’t that goofy. In fact, I’m quite sure that many people probably enjoy making hot dog pizzas at home, with chunks of hot dog thrown on as a topping and baked in a conventional way. Sounds like something little kids would love in particular. If Pizza Hut had chosen to do things that way, I wouldn’t be sitting here and typing right now.
And yet they didn’t just choose to make a pizza with some hot dog bites on it, did they? Instead, like the marketing geniuses they are, they got creative with how they could incorporate the world’s lowest quality mass-produced meat (the hot dog) into a pie. And they found a way that was appropriately nightmarish to attract curious buyers who can’t help but view it as their duty to sample something that so offends the sensibilities of all who are good and decent. As reinforced so many times in the past, the key toward capturing attention in this market is to push things so far over the boundaries of good taste that the members of our ultra-hedonistic society indulge for multiple reasons at the same time: Both sincerely and satirically.
Is this dual appreciation a phenomenon that occurs anywhere but America? In France or Japan, is it common for a car full of iPhone-wielding frat boys to show up at a KFC on the day of a product launch to record videos of one of them taking on the newest and most unhealthy food item, before rushing the video to YouTube? Because if this sort of thing happens with regularity elsewhere, I’ve yet to be made aware of it.
As for this specific product, what can I even say? Logistical questions come to mind, such as “How do they stuff the crusts?” and “Does the hot dog begin as one extraordinarily long sausage length wrapped around the circumference of the pie?” Are the hot dogs made of beef? Pork? Or, as it was put on “The Simpsons,” are they made from “something smaller…with more legs.” What of the “free mustard drizzle”? Does that mean they drizzle some mustard on it before handing it to you, or that they give you mustard for you to employ in whichever insidious way seems least likely to incur divine retribution? Who can say?
One thing is certain, and it is that between things like this and the terrifying “dessert pizzas,” there are no longer any applicable rules about what may and may not be stuffed within or placed upon a pizza. As such, I have the following ideas for which I am willing to accept offers.
* Almond Joy/Mounds Coco-Pizza: This one comes in two variations, with and without the nuts for the allergy-sensitive. Almond Joy or Mounds candy bars are inserted into the crust ringing a pizza that is topped with toasted coconut strands, chocolate shavings and optional almonds. It is then consumed without irony.
* Chicken Pot Pizza: The entire pizza is baked inside an even larger chicken pot pie.
* Gravylicious Poutine Pizza: Straight from Quebec comes the biggest innovation in American pizza since partially hydrogenated pseudo-cheese! A pizza topped with crispy French fries and fresh cheese curds, with the traditional pizza sauce replaced by savory brown gravy. I admit it: I would eat this.
* Chili Cheese Dog-stuffed Pizza: It’s the exact same as the previous hot dog-stuffed pie, except they’re chili cheese dogs. Because really, why the hell not. And if you say “modesty,” I’ll know you’re lying.
What do you think, sirs?