The frozen pizza section of the grocery store is not exactly known for being a showcase of authentic regional slices. Let’s be honest, if you want a real taste of New York–style pizza, no one will tell you to head to Walmart. But Home Run Inn Pizza, a family-owned Chicago brand, is expanding its frozen offerings to make them available nationwide, and this might just change Chicago’s pizza reputation across the country.
I should immediately disclose my bias: Home Run Inn pizza holds a special place in my Chicagoan heart. I grew up near its first-ever location; family members of mine worked there as teenagers, and its pizza was part of many special occasions throughout my childhood. A personal-sized Home Run Inn pizza in your college dorm’s mini-fridge might as well have been a bar of gold. It’s rare that a restaurant chain’s in-house food translates well to the freezer aisle, but this brand’s offerings absolutely do.
Home Run Inn’s premium frozen pizza offerings include classic and ultra-thin crust, topped with either sausage, cheese, pepperoni, or vegetables. Previously, only those in select markets were able to bring home this buttery thin crust pie, but following 2020's unprecedented spike in demand for the brand, now shoppers nationwide can find the pies at Albertsons, Kroger, Walmart, Publix, Meijer, Target, and other grocers across the country. The addition of Albertsons brings Home Run Inn pizza to the Northeast for the first time, officially making it a nationwide brand, explained Gina (Perrino) Bolger, Senior Vice President and fourth-generation family member of Home Run Inn, to The Takeout via email.
“We are excited to introduce Chicago’s long-loved thin-crust style to those outside of our region and know it will quickly become a favorite for even the most highbrow pizza aficionados,” said Bolger in a press release.
Bolger has a point. We at The Takeout are no strangers to the longstanding misconceptions people outside of Illinois have about Chicago pizza. Despite Jon Stewart’s famous rant on The Daily Show, it should be well known by now that Chicago’s deep dish pizza is not a casserole, and more importantly, deep-dish style is not the pizza of choice for most Chicagoans most of the time. We prefer tavern-style thin crust pies, which feature smaller square-cut slices rather than the typical triangular ones.
At the same time, we’re not throwing deep-dish under the bus. That style of pizza deserves love and respect, but it’s more of a special occasion pie. On a Friday night when we’re hanging out with friends or a weeknight when we just don’t want to cook, it’s thin crust all the way, and Home Run Inn is among our favorites to heat up at home.
The expanded availability of Home Run Inn’s frozen lineup might finally bring the taste of a real Chicago pizza into the homes of those who haven’t been lucky enough to try one yet. If it proves popular nationwide, perhaps someday the jokes about deep-dish casseroles will finally fade into history where they belong, and Chicago pizza will finally get the respect it deserves.