What I found at ... is a series that tests and vets intriguing store-bought foodie finds.
What: Stuffed Cheez-It Pizza
Where: Pizza Huts islandwide
Cost: $7.99 each ($7 each when you buy two or more)
Q: Is Pizza Hut's Stuffed Cheez-It pizza cheesy enough for a Cheez-It fan?
Cheez-Its are nostalgic. In elementary school, I took Ziploc bags full of the Original cheddar flavor crackers for my after-school snack. Their comforting, addictive appeal is hard to explain — they're the snacks you mindlessly eat during a Netflix binge until you realize you've devoured the entire box.
So when Pizza Hut and Cheez-It launched this collab pizza a few weeks ago, I was intrigued ... and a little skeptical. What were they doing with my beloved cheese squares? But more importantly: Is Pizza Hut's limited-time special cheesy enough for a diehard Cheez-It fan?
It's described on Pizza Hut's website as "four baked jumbo squares of toasty sharp-cheddar Cheez-It crust stuffed with either cheese or pepperoni and cheese, and served with marinara dipping sauce."
From the photos, they look like square calzones. I was hearing "meh" reports from those who tried it. The main complaint was that the baked Cheez-it crust wasn't crunchy; it was soft like a Hot Pocket. I decided it wasn't urgent to try them, but they lingered in the back of my mind.
Ultimately the "limited time only" part got to me and I drove to my nearest Pizza Hut.
Since they're $7.99 but $7 when you get two or more, I get one cheese and one pepperoni and cheese. You know, for the sake of research. Other food blogs vouch for the pure cheese, but Pizza Hut employees say the pepperoni and cheese combo has been more popular. No matter which you get, Cheez-It Pizzas take 10 to 15 minutes to bake.
First thoughts: The box is a lot smaller than I anticipate. No wonder one box is an individual serving. Those commercials made the Cheez-It Pizzas look so big. A wave of skepticism hits and I wonder if I just got sucked into a fast food marketing ploy. I open the box and get a strong whiff of baked Cheez-Its. Immediately I'm comforted.
The pepperoni and cheese squares are a slightly darker shade of orange than the cheese-only pizzas. This is in case you're like me and want to try both, but want to distinguish the differences. Can you spot the difference?
Moment of truth, here goes the first bite. Since I'm a purist, I try the cheese-only stuffed pizza first.
The cheddar flavor is delightfully strong. The crust really does taste like Cheez-It crackers. It's not soggy or doughy and it's definitely not like a Hot Pocket. It's not as crispy as Cheez-It crackers either, but the baked crust has a nice texture. Next time I'm going to ask them to bake it a few extra minutes.
Now for the inside.
Think of mozzarella sticks, but in square form. I'm not sure if "pizza" is the right word for what's basically a hand pie, but I digress. The mozzarella layer is nice and melty, but not enough for a cheese pull. It's dense, cheesy and pairs well with the baked crust. I dunk a a cheesy corner into the marinara. The sauce is runny and on the sweeter side, but the Stuffed Cheez-It Pizza can hold its own.
A: Yes — if it's the cheese-only one.
I know what you're thinking: What about that pepperoni and cheese pizza? Well, let me show you.
On the outside, these squares look like Cheez-It crackers because of their darker orange hue. But eating this was like biting into a saltmine. I try dipping it in the marinara, and the sauce does offset the saltiness. I'm disappointed that there's no distinctive pepperoni taste. I imagined the same toppings you get on a regular pizza or at least distinctive cubes of meat, but get neither. The little specks of meat are not noticeable to the eye or palate inside the melted cheese. This one is a pass.
I'm not going to lie, though. After devouring the entire mozzarella stuffed pizza, I have the urge to find the nearest grocery store and get a box of original Cheez-Its for old times' sake. And because I'm craving more crunch.
Hungry for more finds? Here's the rest of the series:
What I found at Costco: Tiramisu cake
What I found at Costco: Herdez guacamole salsa
What I found at Costco: Keto-friendly egg bites
What I found at Foodland: Detroit-style pizza
What I found at Costco: Cheeseburger
What I found at Jack in the Box: Teriyaki steak bowls
What I found at Costco: Sous vide pork belly
What I found at Costco: Beef bulgogi mandoo
What I found at Target: Museum of Ice Cream pints
What I found at Costco: 505 Southwestern street tacos
What I found at Costco: Acai bowl
What I found at Zippy's: Mochiko chicken mix
What I found at Costco: Ultimate Blueberry Margarita
What I found at Burger King: Flamin' Hot Mac n' Cheetos
What I found at Costco: Chocolate lava cake
What I found at Marukai: Milk tea that looks like water
What I found at Costco: Microwave pho
What I found at Costco: Raoh tonkotsu ramen