There is no limit to how much frozen pizza Americans can (and will) consume

Illustration for article titled There is no limit to how much frozen pizza Americans can (and will) consume
Photo: Jens Büttner (Getty Images)

Love it or hate it, if you haven’t had Home Run Inn pizza, you’re missing out. I’ve never found another pizza, either in a restaurant or the frozen section of the grocery store, that tastes quite like it. The crust is like a buttery breadstick that’s just this side of gummy in the middle, and the sauce and toppings—please understand I say this with love—come together in a Lunchables-esque heightening of archetypal pizza flavor. This exaggeration turns some people off; to others, it’s what makes Home Run Inn pizza the most capable of transporting them back to childhood, like the taste of SpaghettiOs and Fluffernutters.

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That nostalgia factor is apparently doing the company some serious favors lately. The Chicago Tribune reports that since March of this year, Home Run Inn has seen sales of its frozen pizza positively skyrocket as people’s grocery habits continue to shift amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since shuttering its nine dine-in restaurants throughout the Chicago area in accordance with stay-at-home orders, the Tribune explains, Home Run Inn has gone “all in” on producing frozen pizzas, which it sells in 40 states. They’re produced at a plant outside Chicago, and production has shot up over 30% in the last two months, meaning that the company’s 130 line workers are churning out 78,000 pizzas per day, seven days a week, to meet demand.

“If we could make double, we’d be able to sell double,” said Nick Perrino, head of the frozen pizza division at Home Run Inn. He describes the sudden surge in demand “absolutely crazy,” saying of those first few weeks, “The pandemic had people stocking up on frozen pizza, making sure they had product, just like with toilet paper.” (Guilty as charged.)

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The Tribune notes that the plant closed in April for one day after two employees tested positive for COVID-19. When it reopened, however, “new protections were implemented including mandatory masks, increased cleaning schedules and social distancing in the break rooms. Plant workers received a $2 an hour pay boost and an increase in the number of sick days.” For the past month, there have been no cases of employees testing positive.

As restaurants begin to reopen with strict social distancing measures, Home Run Inn pizzas will probably continue to sell like hotcakes. Why? Because they’re delicious, and because habits, both new and old, die hard.

Marnie Shure is editor in chief of The Takeout.

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DISCUSSION

You are absolutely correct, Marnie. Home Run Inn is the king of frozen pizzas. I tried a Vito and Nick’s one last month, but they put their sausage on there uncooked, and in a regular oven it was impossible to fully cook the sausage without burning the bottom thin crust, so I was disappointed. Back to Home Run Inn, whose crust is honestly just so divine. It’s like some sort savory, buttery baklava with all its thin layers.