Nov 10, 2015

Inside Little Caesars' Test Kitchen: Greek and Coney Deep Dish Pizzas

I recently visited Little Caesars' test kitchen and headquarters over in Detroit (disclosure: travel and accommodations paid for by Little Caesars) and got to try two special versions of their Deep! Deep! Dish pizza that represented Detroit flavors.

First up was the Greek Pizza featuring ingredients you'd normally find in a Gyro: shaved gyro meat, tzatziki, cucumber, tomato, red onion, and dill. Detroit has a sizable Greek population and a Greektown with lots of restaurants. It really does taste like an excellent gyro but on soft, cheesy bread with a crispy edge rather than a pita or similar flatbread.

The other pizza was the Coney Pizza. The Coney Island hot dog was apparently first served in Michigan (or Indiana, according to Wikipedia). Whatever its origin, it's quite popular in Detroit where there are a number of chains offering the hot dog style.

Little Caesars' Coney Deep! Deep! Pizza came topped with sliced hot dogs, cheddar cheese, diced onions, chili, and yellow mustard. Like the Greek pizza, it was also delicious.

Unfortunately, you won't likely see either pizza at your local Little Caesars anytime soon as they're not even test items but were just made for the tour. Also, the gyro meat came from a local Greek restaurant and the tzatziki was made from scratch in the test kitchen; even if they did test it, they'd have to establish a whole supply chain for the toppings. Similarly, the Coney Pizza's toppings came from a local hot dog joint. It's a shame, really.

There is one small hope though. They're planning to open a flagship store in downtown Detroit in the future that will include exclusive items for that location so that it'll be more of a destination than just a pizza parlor. Maybe one of the pizzas I tried will pop up there...

If you're hoping for a lot of limited-time pizzas from the Little Caesars, I was told that they only might do one or two a year. To use a baseball metaphor (the same family that owns Little Caesars also owns the Detroit Tigers baseball team), they seem to be looking to hit home runs rather than singles or doubles. I inquired into current test products and was told they currently have two products in market testing. Unfortunately, I couldn't get them to tell me what they were (so if any of you guys see anything, please let me know and I'll look into it).

Besides trying the two pizzas, I also got a look at what goes into making their Detroit-style Deep! Deep! Dish pizza (in case you're wondering, Detroit-style is actually a thing and not something they made up to sell pizzas). I also got to try my hand at making one myself but I'll save that for another post.

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