Pizza Hut vs. Domino's vs. Papa John's: Trash Pizza, ranked

Pizza Hut vs. Domino's vs. Papa John's: Trash Pizza, ranked
Image: Andreanna Moya Photography/ Flickr

You can learn a lot about a person based on where they fall in life’s big debates: Coke vs. Pepsi, Triscuit vs. Wheat Thins, Taylor Swift vs. Katy Perry.

But there is one question that is perhaps the most decisive, the most controversial, the most revealing of what type of person you are: What is your favorite Trash Pizza?

Let’s get this out of the way — pizza is a gotdamn national treasure.

If I had a Personal Brand™, it would be pizza. I frequently wear a pizza sweater, which matches my pizza bow tie, which matches my “pizza fund” change jar on my desk at work, which one time, I cashed out and got $71 for pizza.  Every year for Christmas I ask for “pizza and/or pizza related items,” which is how I now have a pizza-shaped phone charger. And I used to have a Friday night ritual where I would grab a bottle of wine, a book, and eat a whole pizza by myself in bed while reading. (Helpful tips for how you too can live your best pizza life here.)

But the beauty of pizza is that there are so many types of pizza. There are good pizzas for when you want to feed your body and Trash Pizzas — that cheap, greasy goodness — for when you want to feed your soul. And the Trash Pizzas are the best.

But with so many types of Trash Pizzas out there, which one reigns supreme? Domino’s? Pizza Hut? Papa John’s? 

Let’s settle the score. Here are your favorite Trash Pizzas, ranked.

8. Last place, the worst Trash Pizza: Little Caesars

Story time, folks. One time, when I was in college, I went to my friend’s St. Patrick’s Day party, which was probably bad idea #1 given that, overall, I didn’t drink very much when I was in college. Because this was a college party where the name of the game was get the most alcohol for the cheapest price, people were drinking this concoction where you put a whole bunch of beer in a bucket, spike that with liquor, and then throw in edible glitter so it sparkles. (Bad idea #2)

I wish I could say I looked into that bucket and said “lol there’s no way I’m putting that into my body,” but, dear reader, I did not say that. I drank that drink, which in hindsight, might have been literal poison. Somehow, in a very surprisingly, totally unforeseeable turn of events based on the safe and mature choices I was making, I got drunk. Like incredibly drunk. Like so drunk out of my mind that I decided it would be a good idea for me to pick up Little Caesars on the way home.

And let me tell you, friends, that was NOT a good choice. I have a very distinct memory of sitting down at home, pulling up the first episode of Lost on Netflix, taking a bite of that Little Caesars pizza and thinking “Wow, this shit is not edible.”

That’s how bad Little Caesars is. It’s the clear loser of the Trash Pizzas.

7. Those heat lamp pizzas they have at gas stations sometimes

Public service announcement: Gas station pizzas are a trap! 

In my wayward youth, I have been ensnared by the weird allure of gas station pizza. Why? Because they look so much better than everything else in a gas station. They’re like a prize to be won. After you pass the register, go through aisles of motor oil and other car goods, skip over the combos, there, shining under a bright heat lamp, perhaps rotating gently, is the gas station pizza.

But it’s all a ruse, like those beautiful outdoor lamps that attract insects and electrocutes them. A gas station pizza will ruin your life. Unless you want to soon be spending 20-30 minutes in a gas station bathroom, avoid the gas station pizza. 

(They’re still better than Little Caesars tho.)

6. Hot Pocket Pizzas

Lol! Nope!

Jim Gaffigan has said everything you need to know about hot pockets.

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5. The little pizzas that come in Lunchables

Let’s be clear from the start: those pizzas that come in Lunchables are not good. They’re tiny so they aren’t filling, the “cheese” only tastes like salt, and literally what is that tomato paste they put in a pouch and call pizza sauce?

And yet those gross lil’ Lunchables pizzas have a fond place in my heart. They feel like a nostalgic relic from my childhood, a rite of passage that made me the person I am today. And if you rolled up to lunch in your first grade cafeteria with a Mega Deep Dish Lunchable pizza, you were basically a god for the day. God bless Lunchable pizzas.

4. DiGiorno

DiGiorno pizza is solidly middle of the pack. It’s not the worst. It’s not the best. It just is. But here’s the thing about DiGiorno pizza: it’s work. 

DiGiorno’s whole pitch is it’s there when you want it. “It’s not delivery. It’s DiGiorno.” But if you read between the lines, what they’re really saying is “make the gotdamn pizza yourself.” So then you have to pre-heat the oven, bake your pizza for 20 minutes, sometimes the cheese drips and you have to clean your oven grill, then you have to grab dishes, and then you eat your pizza and it’s not even good. AND WHO WANTS TO DO THAT WORK FOR BAD PIZZA? Literally no one.

The Venn diagram of when I want Trash Pizza and when I want to pre-heat an oven feature completely separate circles. Those two feelings never intersect.

I don’t want to have to work for my Trash Pizza. I want someone to hand me a box and say “stuff this in your face.”

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3rd Place: Domino’s

It might be controversial that Domino’s appears in the middle of this list since, according to a very scientific study featuring 45 votes and conducted by my friend and colleague Damon Beres, Domino’s is the best pizza.

But everyone is wrong. Domino’s is trash. And not in the good way. In terms of flavor, Domino’s is fine. It’s not great and not the worst, it’s just fine. To be totally honest, it tastes mostly like grease, like all proper Trash Pizzas should.

However, we need to talk about that crust.

The default Domino’s pizza crust is their “hand-tossed” pizza crust, which is “garlic-seasoned, with a rich, buttery taste.” No, I’m not buying it. What they’ve really done is taken a gross pizza and then made it bougie. (Don’t start actin’ all brand new, Domino’s.)

The major crime with the crust is that their garlic “seasoning” is grainy and falls off everywhere, which makes a huge mess.  It’s the Hansel and Gretel of pizza — it leaves a trail of crumbs wherever it goes, WHICH IS NOT HOW A PIZZA SHOULD WORK. Domino’s has taken the concept of pizza, which is a handheld affair, and transformed it into a more complicated endeavor.

That’s some bull -ish, Domino’s.

2nd Place: Papa John’s

Papa John’s used to be my favorite Trash Pizza, which may be surprising because Papa John’s is objectively bad pizza. I openly acknowledge that. In fact, when I did eat it, I called it “pizza product” or “imitation pizza.” But the thing about Papa John’s is that it is the perfect vehicle for grease and of course, their butter garlic sauce. And that butter garlic sauce is magic. (Side note, have you noticed that the sauce comes in two different consistencies, a creamy sauce and an oily sauce? It’s so wildly inconsistent which makes the garlic sauce feel like a game every time you order.)

It’s some type of alchemy. The butter garlic sauce is bad. The pizza is bad. But put them together and they are the best damn trash pizza experience you can find. Whenever I ate a Papa John’s pizza, I felt like I could physically feel my heart slowing in my body. It was fucking great.

But I stopped ordering Papa John’s because papa John is a bad man. And though he is no longer the CEO of Papa John’s, his business cannot have my dollars anymore. 

The Winner, the best Trash Pizza: Pizza Hut

Everybody sleeps on Pizza Hut and it’s absolutely tragic. 

Pizza Hut gave us stuffed crust pizza, arguably the greatest innovation in pizza history. You take a pizza and its crust and then YOU PUT MORE CHEESE IN IT. Tbh, I am surprised that whoever thought of that idea didn’t win a Nobel Prize.

And who can forget Pizza Hut’s BOOK IT! program, which gave children free pizzas in exchange for reading books. 

Listen, I get it. Pizza Hut pizza is NOT great. Nobody says, “you know what I want right now. A Pizza Hut pizza.” And Pizza Hut knows that, so they leaned into that brand. Why else would you stuff hotdogs onto the end of a pizza. Why else would you partner with Taco Bell to create the promised land of trash food, the combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell

Pizza Hut knows it’s trash so it turned everything surrounding the pizza great so that you can have the best possible Trash Pizza experience for as little money as possible. And for that reason, Pizza Hut is top of the list.

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