I had two foods today which could arguably be called classics of the frozen pizza world: Stouffer's French Bread Pizza, and Pepperoni Hot Pockets.
The difference is both of them have recently been... changed.
In the case of the Hot Pockets, this is a good thing. They're now branded "Hot Pockets Pizzeria," but that's purely cosmetic. Let's face it, the only frozen pizza lower than a Hot Pocket is a generic Hot Pocket. But now the Pizzeria Hot Pockets have a different seasoned crust. And it really works! It gives it that little extra zing that it so desperately needs. So this "new and improved" classic gets a big thumbs up from The Pizza Tourist. (That's me. Joy wants me to start a new blog page talking about pizza, and who am I to argue? But it's not ready yet, so consider this a warm-up.)
Then we have Stouffer's French Bread Pizza, which I consider to be way at the top of the Frozen Pizza food chain. (Especially since Roxanne got me to try the micro-bake cooking method!) Now I always get a little nervous when I see "New and Improved!" on my frozen pizzas, but I figured it worked for Hot Pockets and Totino's Pizza Rolls, so I'd go into it being optimistic.
And to be honest, as I was cooking it I forgot all about the change in recipe. It smelled great, it looked great, and I was very hungry, so I eagerly dived right into it. But as I was eating it I kept waiting for the bliss to hit me, that high that I usually get from a Stouffer's French Bread Pizza which tells me my dopamines have kicked in. Instead, I started noticing a spicy build-up in the back of my throat. And then I remembered... this is the "New and Improved Recipe." I continued on with an open mind and hope that this new recipe was going to win me over.
Unfortunately the spicy feeling in the back of throat just kept building up, to the point where I considered getting some bread or something to offset it. Worse yet, it stayed with me for a few hours after I finished the pizza. Now I don't mind a spicy pizza, but that's not what I want from Stouffer's.
I'd say this new recipe dragged what I used to consider a five-star frozen pizza down to a two-star frozen pizza. I found their website and politely asked them to go back to the original recipe, but I doubt that'll count for much. File this "new and improved recipe" with New Coke.
UPDATE: Stouffer's sent me some coupons, including one for a free entrée. I have to admit, it's a good idea: didn't like the pizza? Feel like you'll never buy it again? Here, try it once more for free, maybe you'll find it wasn't so bad after all. And who knows, it might work.
However, I found it very amusing that the flyer had what I assume is Stouffer's new slogan on it:
Yes! Please, fix my Stouffer's French Bread Pizza Dinner! Either that, or if ain't broken, don't fix it.