Pizza Hut's Hot Dog Bites Pizza was and is catnip for awful food connoisseurs.
It's one of those Frankenfood creations that had existed in some shadowy form long before Pizza Hut announced it as a limited-time offering for the United States in June — Japan got a version of it from Pizza Hut in 2006, with full hot dogs in the crust, and both Pizza Hut and Domino's brought it to the United Kingdom earlier this decade — and it mashes up two things, pizza and hot dogs, that are both understood as quintessentially American and Bad For You.
That's the value proposition of fast food: Everyone "knows" that it's Bad For You, of course, and still people want to eat it, for convenience or novelty or flavor. The first two things — pizza and hot dogs in one meal!? — are certainly present with the Hot Dogs Bites Pizza. It's too bad it doesn't really deliver on the latter.
Because I'm both a glutton for punishment and an idiot (and because I had a coupon for $5 off $25), I got both the standard Hot Dog Bites Pizza and the version with a pretzel crust, netting me 16 pieces of Pizza Hut's worst pizza variety with rings of bread with small hot dog pieces in the crust.
I say "worst pizza variety" with because I mean it: The pizza itself is the same variety you get with the chain's Stuffed Crust offerings, a thin and greasy piece of bread that doesn't have the satisfying light crunch of Pizza Hut's Pan Pizza — my favorite chain pizza — or the heft of the Hand-Tossed variety. I added extra cheese and pepperoni (again, trying to get to the $25 total; each version of the Hot Dog Bites Pizza was $11.99) to one of the pizzas, and it didn't make it any more substantial.
Pizza Hut's been fond of using that crust with its specialty pizzas (see the Cheesy Bites and Crazy Cheesy Crust pizzas), and I suppose there's a reason for that, but the pizza itself suffers as a result. I'd be much more inclined to bite on the next Pizza Hut monstrosity if it used either the Pan (the Stuffed Crust Pan pizza is proof it's possible; it was also excellent) or Hand-Tossed crusts.
The Hot Dog Bites, however, were better than expected. Each slice has either three or four bites (28 ring each pizza), and, thanks to larger pieces of bread than you might want, each one is the perfect size for dipping once and consuming in two bites.
The hot dog pieces themselves are rather small — think cocktail wieners and you're probably right — but they do have a fine char to them, and tasted like a grilled low-quality hot dog, a pleasant surprise for a piece of meat that was actually baked in an oven. (Also: Only the first of the 56 bites I ate had the meat tumble out of its bread enclosure as I tried to bring it to my mouth, so the meat bits are fairly well-secured.)
Pizza Hut includes a small vat of French's yellow mustard with each pizza, and I used it for both crusts, but the customary tang just didn't do much for me, as I haven't been a fan of yellow mustard for some years. Switching to a honey mustard made my dips much better, but going dipless was fine, too.
The pretzel crust is also just better than the regular crust. It's a little saltier, yes, but the entire pizza seems to sweat sodium, and the flakiness of the crust more than makes up for it. And, honestly, if you're getting this pizza, it isn't for the pizza slices themselves.
I had seven pieces of the pizza split between the two varieties on my first night, and that was more than enough given the extreme salt content; I ate the remainder over the next three days, mostly cold, and was pleasantly surprised that the hot dog didn't get particularly rubbery after being refrigerated.
At $12 per pizza, plus gas to pick it up or tip for a delivery driver, you're paying a little more than $1.50 per slice for the Hot Dog Bites Pizza, and I can't say I think it's really worth it except for the novelty. But if you do get it — I believe its limited-time run is up in the next week or two — get the pretzel crust, and don't hesitate to switch mustards.
Juicy Fruit has debuted gum flavored like the cherry and strawberry versions of Starburst candy, and it was on sale at Target this week, so I grabbed a three-pack of the cherry version for $2. The first whiff of the gum, before even opening the packet, was so perfectly matched to the flavor of the "red" Starburst I love best that I had high hopes, but the flavor isn't quite the same and fades fast. ... Surprisingly good taste of the week: I had a Cheeseburger Flatbread at the (Miller's) Ale House on Archer earlier this week, and really enjoyed the mix of beef, onions, pickles, and cheese. Sign up for the chain's email club and you can get a coupon for a free one. ... Taco Bell is now offering delivery in 90 cities in the Dallas, Los Angeles, and San Francisco areas, and its Cap'n Crunch Delights are out nationwide, but I'm mostly excited to try the Sangrita Blast Freeze at some point. ... The new Wendy's Baconator fries are also on my list.
Got an idea for a thing I should try? Leave it in the comments.