When Pizza Hut announced that it was bringing its Hot Dog Bites Pizza to America, I knew I had to try it.
The pizza has 28 cocktail franks stuffed into the crust. It serves 4—or maybe 10, there's no real way of measuring.
(via Pizza Hut)
Yesterday—a day before its official release—comedian Adam Maid and I ate and conquered the Hot Dog Bites Pizza. Or maybe it conquered us. I've been sitting here for the past 3 hours trying to write this review, and I'm so tired that I've only written six sentences, including this one.
New York may be home to 50,000 restaurants, but there is only one single Pizza Hut in Manhattan serving up the hot dog pizza. It's in Times Square, and it's a combination Pizza Hut-KFC-Nathan's-Tim Horton's. There is, frankly, no better place to eat a pizza made of hot dogs than a Pizza Hut made of four other restaurants. Here we go:
Adam: I approached the counter, which was staffed by just one young woman, and suddenly realized that I was conquering one of my childhood goals: I WAS ORDERING OFF-MENU AT PIZZA HUT. The Hot Dog Bites Pizza (HDBP) still wasn't officially released, but after conferring (twice) with the manager, my new best friend told me she could sell me a large for a shockingly reasonable $13.99.
Kristen: Though the official release date of hot dog bites is today, June 18, it seems like individual Pizza Huts were more than willing to serve up the pie early. As a back-up, we also called a location in New Jersey that confirmed they, too, had the pizza, and they were audibly excited we were asking about it. It's like back in the day when you'd get a rogue Borders employee who didn't care about book release dates, so he'd give you Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince a day early.
Adam: The wait was an excruciating fifteen minutes. My mind raced with questions. Were we facing a day of agony? Were we embarking on probably decades-long battles with Hot Dog Bites Pizza addiction? As Dave Matthews softly cooed “I am no Superman" over the speakers, I thought, “I'll pick up the slack today, Dave-o."
Kristen: The pizza came before I got to the restaurant. I frantically texted this:
Adam: New thing I learned today: Pizza Hut/KFC presents your pizza to you before closing the box, like the best possible kind of engagement ring. And I am not lying when I tell you that our pizza shined. Sure, it was probably from the grease, but I like to think it had its own internal light.
The first thing you'll notice about the pizza is that there are just a TON of little hot dogs in the crust. Yes, that's the point, but still—seeing it in person vs. seeing it in pictures is a completely different animal. It's kind of alien-looking in real life, but in a cool, sci-fi, hot-dog-exoskeleton way. I almost expected it to grow a second, smaller pizza from the inside. (Domino's, please steal that idea!)
Kristen: I dove right in almost immediately. It looked so good. And the first few bites really were. The crust was doughy and sweet, like traditional Pizza Hut hand-tossed. We ordered pepperoni, which, to me, is essential. When I eat cheese pizza, I feel like I haven't eaten anything at all. I later learned that Hot Dog Bites Pizza comes in two varieties: plain and pretzel. Adam wasn't given a choice, and honestly, I think our crust was somewhere in the middle. It looked and tasted like normal hand-tossed, but it randomly had chunks of pretzel salt on it.
We quickly identified potential improvements. The hot dogs do not need any additional salt. I don't think there's a need for pretzel-crust here. Also, the dough is quite thick. The pigs-in-a-blanket would be amplified with some flakey layers. Get Pillsbury on the horn. The cocktail frank, itself, is pretty smokey. I found myself wishing for a milder dog.
Adam: I'll be honest: The meats fought. You've got pepperoni, which is a stalwart topping for a reason. It can carry a pizza on its own and it knows it. Add to that the strong, smoky flavor of the hot dog, and you have a major conflict. You can't have two Alphas in a wolfpack and you can't have other meats on a hot dog pizza.
Kristen: Adam's right on. Never in my life would I have gone with a plain cheese pizza, but it's essential here. Maybe even some sort of vegetable would work. Like peppers and mushrooms? Dear God, who am I?
Adam: Let the pizza work FOR the hot dog.
Kristen: Exactly. These two elements seemed like two separate entities, instead of one harmonious hot-dog-pizza. And in fact, we ate them separately. First, I ate the pizza. Then I ate the pigs-in-a-blanket for dessert.
Adam: I found that the “eat it backwards" mentality of stuffed-crust is a little out of place here. You just get sauce on your hand and end up pulling off the hot dog bites anyway.
Kristen: That said, one nice element of the hot dog pizza design was that the two outer pigs-in-a-blanket acted like pizza-holding handlebars. It was a pretty ergonomic way to eat a slice of pizza. Speaking of, we should note that every slice of Hot Dog Bites Pizza comes with four pigs-in-a-blanket.
Adam: That's basically a hot dog per slice, folks.
Kristen: If you eat two slices, you've also eaten two hot dogs. And that's what I ate: two slices.
Adam: I almost made it to three slices before a power greater than myself forced me to stop. I was powerless to continue. Game over.
Kristen: I made the rookie mistake of drinking water while eating my pizza. Hot Dog Pizza really deserves to be washed down with a soda. It needs the acid to cut through the grease. I'm pretty sure the water combined with the dough to create hot-dog-pizza-lead in my stomach.
Never in my life have I eaten two slices of pizza and thought, “Wow. I'm full." Hot Dog Bites Pizza did it. Adam had a Pepsi that tasted more like a Diet Pepsi, and I think it really helped him.
Adam: That was the only time I've ever been glad for a Diet Pepsi. It's also a pizza with a built-in timer. As you go from first to second to hitting the wall halfway through your third slice, that golden sheen on its edges starts to fade. It's probably not a pizza you'll want to revisit cold the next morning, unless you are apocalyptically hungover. Or six years old, I guess.
Kristen: I completely agreed with this—at the time. I confidently said there was no way I'd be going back in for leftovers. But I just pulled the box out of the fridge and ate another slice while writing this. Which means my hot dog count is now 3.
Would we order the Pizza Hut Hot Dog Bites Pizza again? Probably not. But I am very happy we did it once. I would compare eating this pizza to watching the movie Blackfish. I'm glad that I did it. It was difficult at moments, but ultimately educational, and I'm wiser and stronger having done it.
(Images via Kristen Bartlett)