A gas station might not be the first place you think to go for top-tier pizza, but time and time again we’ve seen that slices from the local pump are in high demand. Casey’s General Stores in particular have really cornered the market—last year we discovered that Casey’s is the fifth-largest pizza chain in the United States. And one of its unique specialties is the breakfast pizza.
Growing up in northern Illinois, I can tell you that the breakfast pizza was practically a delicacy. Orders would be put in for special occasions, like the morning of prom while we perfectly curled our updo tendrils. Now Casey’s is celebrating a momentous occasion of its own with a brand-new breakfast pizza flavor that perfectly encapsulates the region it dominates.
Casey’s has been slinging breakfast pies for 21 years now, and to celebrate it did what every stand-up Midwesterner does when they hit that milestone: added beer. The limited time Ultimate Beer Cheese Breakfast Pizza is topped with beer cheese sauce, smoky bacon, savory sausage, ham, fluffy scrambled eggs, onions, green peppers, mozzarella, and cheddar cheese. In short, the chain threw everything it had on this damn thing.
When I made the journey to Casey’s to try it out, I was reminded of why, in part, the pizza is always so good: While you can grab a slice off the rotating hot plate to go, you can also witness employees making entire pies from scratch and baking them in a row of on-site pizza ovens—it’s not a common sight inside other gas stations, which is why the uninitiated might be skeptical. I waited just six minutes for an entire fresh breakfast pizza while perusing the table full of booze marked “Buy one, get one for a penny!” that was already picked over at 9 a.m. (Gotta love a small town.)
There are two main factors that make these breakfast pizzas taste the most beakfasty. First is the addition of scrambled eggs, obviously. Next is the crust, which is light and fluffy enough to almost resemble a giant English muffin. This combination often makes for the perfect meal to start the day, substantive without being so heavy as to make you sluggish. The Ultimate Beer Cheese Breakfast Pizza is another story.
The beer cheese sauce is heavy all on its own, rich and flavorful with a bitter edge that reminds you, yes, there is beer in this. Then there are the three meats, the most flavorful of which is the smoky ham—giant cubes of the stuff dominate each slice to the point that I could barely tell there was also sausage and bacon scattered beneath. The onions and green peppers provide some much-needed crunch (not to mention a false sense that you’re getting your greens for the day), but otherwise feel like an afterthought. Taken together, it tastes like Midwestern indulgence at its finest.
However, after two bites, I was ready for a nap. Delicious as it may be, it’s a lot, especially for your first bites of the day. Still, imagining it with even a single one of these toppings removed from the mix falls short of what we’ve come to expect from Casey’s pizza. The perfect compromise just may be saving this breakfast pizza for lunch or dinner—you can order it all day through the app, after all—a time of day when your body is ready to stomach something a little heartier. And in true Midwestern fashion, it would probably pair with a nice cold brewski, in honor of your next special occasion.