Sunday, January 31, 2010

TBG Eats: Little Caesar's Hot-N-Ready $5.00 Pizza

Current Weight: 165.8 lbs.

There are a myriad of "man-traits" I've been missing since birth.

For instance, I don't know anything about cars – I've never changed my own oil; I've never fixed a flat tire and while I own a set of jumper cables, it sure would help if the little old lady with the dead car battery knew how to attach them for me.

It should go without saying that I've never been good with my hands.

I abhorred my wood-shop class in eighth grade with all its saws, sanders and hammers. Several years earlier, I'd spent a summer mowing lawns for extra money and developed a healthy disdain for manual labor. After a few weeks, wood-shop started to harden my baby soft hands while someone else's jheri curl juice often dripped from the communal safety goggles.

When I was Jalen's age, THE fallback gift for little boys was still model cars and airplanes. I vividly remember a birthday when a neighbor brought over Trans-Am models for me and my brother. I burst into tears, aghast at the brazen disdain for child labor laws among the adults in the room. Seriously, though, I did cry.

Today, America's default gift for little guys is Legos.

I've never bought my son anything Lego. Mrs. Bootleg's bought Jalen one – maybe two – Lego-related products during the boy's life. Yet, there are Lego pieces EVERYWHERE in our house. Friends and relatives have bought J sets of Lego for birthdays, holidays and no reason at all.

And, Jalen loves Legos. Or, more specifically, he loves (1) pouring all the pieces into a pile (2) ignoring the directions and building whatever he wants and (3) playing violently with the meticulously constructed finished product.

Just after Christmas, Jalen and I put all of the smaller Lego sets he received from assorted "Santas" together. His awesome Godparents had gotten him a massive three-vehicle set. The description on the box included frightening, sure-to-take-four-hours-to-build language like "special edition". I stalled for as long as I could, before the boy broke me down.

To the best of my knowledge, Mrs. Bootleg has never offered any Lego help. In fact, when it comes to Legos, she's mastered that little bullsh** parenting trick of pretending not to notice that Jalen and I already put the Lego set together and then offering to help – only to act all disappointed when she "discovers" all the work is already done.

(Yes, I do this, too. "I thought you wanted ME to chop those onions, honey!")

So, on "special edition" Lego night, Mrs. Bootleg's contributions were to declare – out loud, for all of us to hear – this particular Friday evening to be "Family Night!" (Exclamation point, hers). To celebrate, she drove out to pick up dinner.

Little Caesar's Pizza recently opened a location just up the road from Stately Bootleg Manor. They've been offering "Hot-N-Ready" pizzas for $5.00 since 2004. Pre-made pepperoni pizzas, boxed up and warming in a cylindrical oven…walk in, no wait and five dollars later, you've got a large pizza in your hands.

I've written about my adolescent love affair with Little Caesar's before, so I can't be too harsh on an old gastronomic girlfriend. Suffice to say, that there's a certain formulaic flavor with their "Hot-N-Ready" pizzas. I couldn't find any evidence that these were reheated frozen pizzas, so let's examine the evidence.

The crust was stiff with a processed texture. The mozzarella was nicely melted, but otherwise didn't move – just sitting on top like a squishy white mud puddle. The sauce and pepperoni were equally unexceptional.

Yes, the "Hot-N-Ready" is a substandard pizza – even by chain standards – but, I'm inclined to grade easy, here. The $5.00 deal isn't intended for fast-food eating elitists like me. If this were around when I was in college, I'd have stood in line to buy one. And, I can appreciate the franchise's commitment to an affordable family meal.

Especially on "Special Edition Lego Family Night".

Grade: 2.5 (out of 5) Calories (one slice): 280 Fat: 11g


SHough610 said...

Oh Little Caesar's, I too have a history. There was one in a shopping center near my house. One of my latch-key friends and I used to go and get a pizza and a cup of ice (because it was cheaper to get a soda from the machine near by). Senior year of high school was when they introduced the five dollar hot-n-ready. My friends and I dropped quite a bit of money there.

Joe said...

Haven't had Little Caesar's in forever but I remember the crazy bread was always the best part.

Cam, you should check out Domino's new and improved pizzas. The new garlic crust is awesome.

Tom said...

Little Caeser's has always ranked a sad fourth on my chain pizza love. Pizza Hut, Domino's, Papa John's, and then the small, repetitive Italian man

That Bootleg Guy said...

Heh. In truth, our recent "Family Night" was supposed to be sponsored by Domino's "new" pizza. We had a free coupon and everything.

Turns out the Domino's in our neighborhood went out of business and the next closest (about 10 miles away) won't deliver to us.

Stay classy, "new" Domino's.

Krista said...

I work at Little Caesars. :p
I think the pizza is decent for the price and "walk in-and-out" standard.
Each pizza is made from scratch, including the dough. We make the sauce and dough ourselves and create sheetouts each morning, sauce, cheese, and even put the pepperoni on each pizza by hand! :p
I'd much rather Little Caesar's over Domino's because it's a billion times less greasier, the service is faster, the ingredients are fresher, and it's tastier in my opinion..

Papa Johns I'm not too sure about though.. Heh heh.

Anonymous said...
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McKinley Minniefield said...

It's been a while since anyone has posted on this thread, but I must have a go. I am the GM of a Little Caesars franchise and I must admit that I used to "hate" our pizza. It just has this cheap crappy fast-food stigma that is not easily broken... But please, take a second look. Many hours of time go in to the creation of our pizza every day. Every pizza that comes out of my store every day has EXACTLY 30 pepperoni. Never a bubble in the crust and no overlapping or stacked pepperoni. I'm talking serious quality. No other chain can touch that. And lets face it, the crust (stiff with a processed texture) as mentioned before, has been in the making for over 50 years now. I love the company that I work for, and I love my pizza. If you prefer pizza with mushrooms and sausage instead of cheese and pepperoni, I guarantee I can get you one exactly the way you want it in LESS than half the time of any other chain in the country -- be it hand tossed, thin crust, or deep dish!

Anonymous said...

Pizza is made from scratch at LC... some of you rank frozen pizza higher on your lists. Just because it's cheap doesn't mean it's pre-made crap. Just means they have nailed down production to a science, indeed it is very assembly line-esque... and at several hundred pizzas a day, it has to be!

Anonymous said...

Little Ceaser's Pizza Pizza.

The goto location for all your robbery needs at 5.30 PM on a Friday.

Jason in Maryland said...

Forget the cost. Not having to wait is what matters to me. Being fresh is a nice benefit.