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88. Papa John's

Classification: Franchise

Whenever Papa John’s wiggled its way on the menu, something always felt a little off. I somewhat appreciate the Barbie dollhouse kitchen table centered in middle that put a stop to the perilous and possibly invented scourge of caved-in boxes, which is apparently common (?) with other delivery-based establishments. Everyone's experience is different, so no harm there. Still, the over-emphasis on their signature garlic dipping sauce really seemed like a cry for attention, and the weird little pepper used as a garnish tiptoes right up to the line of turning a useful pizza into basically a salad, but with a few workarounds, it generally met most minimum standards.

Erstwhile founder John Schnatter has made many headlines in recent years, for mostly ignominious reasons, but let’s pump the brakes on that tidbit for just a second, and consider this:

“I've had over 40 pizzas in the last 30 days.” —Papa John Schnatter, to CNN reporter

At my very best, I couldn’t do even half that, so let’s pause to give the man some regards in what might be the only arena in which he’s deserving. I don’t really want to consider what my personal 30-day high-water mark might be, but I’d estimate maybe eight or nine, and even that’s a wholly unsustainable mark. I mean, this very blog exists to humbly chronicle one man’s lifetime of pizza, and at that projected 40/30 rate of consumption, Schnatter could surpass my lifetime intake in mere months. Respect for the frenzied mauling, but for the pizza itself, not so much. (3 of 10 stars)

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