Fast food brands can make some bone-headed mistakes sometimes. Whether we’re talking about Taco Bell ditching the Mexican Pizza only to bring it back or McDonald’s releasing a menu of hacks that you have to self-assemble (thereby negating the need for a special menu), sometimes fast food brands make moves that defy logic. On one hand, we get it, fast food brands need to continue to innovate to hold the attention of a hungry public that is flush with options, which is easier said than done. But fast food fans aren’t dumb, we’ll get excited for a Megan Thee Stallion Popeyes team-up if it results in a new version of the sandwich, and we’ll let Wendy’s ditch Vanilla Frostys to give us a flavor we’ve never tasted, but when a fast food brand tries to innovate without actually doing anything new (looking at you McDonald’s) it’s very easy to see through.
This brings us to Papa John’s new Shaq-A-Roni pizza.
A pizza brand teaming up with Shaquille O’Neal is a great idea — people love Shaq and there are a lot of opportunities to play on his fun-loving personality and immense size to offer something special and unique, like a fully-loaded pizza with all the toppings. But the Shaq-A-Roni isn’t that.
Described by Papa Johns as “an extra-large pizza made with Papa John’s fresh, never frozen, six-ingredient dough, covered with extra pepperoni and extra cheese, baked to perfection and cut into eight Shaq-sized slices,” the Shaq-A-Roni is simply an extra large pepperoni pizza. It’s not any bigger than Papa John’s regular extra large crust, both measure at 16-inches, there aren’t any more or fewer slices in this pie, and while there does (maybe!) seem to be more cheese and pepperoni than is typical, it’s not in an amount that you’ll actually notice.
But there has got to be more than to this pie right? We ordered a Shaq-A-Roni to find out.
Turns out no, there isn’t any more to this pizza.
It doesn’t have a special box. It doesn’t look any different than a normal extra-large pepperoni from Papa John’s. It’s just a regular ass pizza.
On the bright side, between now and December 25th Papa Johns will donate $1 for every Shaq-A-Roni sold to the Papa John’s Foundation, which supports organizations working to provide hunger relief, reduce food waste, and provide grants to local organizations, which is dope, but also a little puzzling, considering Papa John’s isn’t sending money to some other charity, they’re sending it to their own.
Meaning they could totally do without you buying a Shaq-A-Roni… the whole thing just seems like a real missed opportunity. The pizza itself is delicious, of course, it is, it’s a f*cking pepperoni pizza! But we bought it to review it, so here we go: Papa John’s dough is spongey and chewy with a hint of sweetness to it and a really nice mouthfeel.
The pepperoni has a nice level of spice which compliments the bright pizza sauce and creamy mozzarella. The slices are perfectly foldable, and it’s the ideal pizza for sharing with a group of people. All in all, it makes for a great option from Papa John’s.
The Bottom Line:
It’s a delicious pepperoni pizza, but we can’t help but think it could be so much more with the smallest amount of effort.