"When I founded Papa John's in 1984, my mission was to build a better pizza," says "Papa" John Schnatter. "I went the extra mile to ensure we used the highest quality ingredients available - like fresh, never frozen original dough, all-natural sauce, veggies sliced fresh daily and 100 percent real beef and pork. We think you'll taste the difference." Me personally? I couldn't tell you. Maybe I should take a deeper interest in Papa John's. My son was fascinated by Mister Schnatter's 1971 Chevrolet Camaro. Peyton Manning, Denver Bronco's quarterback and spokesperson for all manner of things, was doing such a great job shilling for Papa John's that he got himself twenty-one pizza shops in the Denver Metro Area. Papa John's is the NFL's official pizza.
I'm a football fan, but I'm also a teacher, and when a deal was struck with our school district to deliver cheese and pepperoni pies to our cafeterias once a week, it seemed like such a good deal. It had that whole "giving back to the community vibe." As the weeks went by, I watched our kids' eyes light up each and every Wednesday. It wasn't just pizza day, it was Papa John's pizza day. To say that there was a Pavlovian element to this experience may be stretching the point, but I know that there were kids who never ate lunch because they so desperately needed that extra six minutes to play four square. Except on Papa John's day. It must have been all those high quality ingredients.
If only we knew what those ingredients were. They're a secret. Restaurant food isn't required to list theirs like the stuff you buy in a supermarket. We do know that Papa John's garlic sauce, which comes in little packages, is made
with a slew of additives: mono and diglycerides, partially hydrogenated
soybean oil and the preservatives sodium benzoate and calcium disodium
EDTA. That's high quality sodium benzoate, I'm sure.
Papa John wants us to know that the ingredients he uses are "better." He just isn't saying what they are. That's his business. The business he's worried about losing because of rising healthcare costs. He might have to cut employee's hours, or raise the cost of his high quality pizzas. Wait a second. That wasn't partially hydrogenated soybean oil I tasted. It was Tea, wasn't it?
Looks like it's time to order Chinese.