John “Papa John” Schnatter just won’t shut up. His latest display of saying too much in an attempt to, I don’t know, win back his empire (?) took place at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida. Huffington Post reports that during a segment titled “Back to the 70s” the disgraced pizza mogul took to the stage to say, among other things, that the quality of Papa Johns pizza is now “down with Little Caesars” and reveal what he believed made “better pizzas.”
“We built the whole company on conservative values,” Schnatter said. “Conservative ideology has two of the most critical attributes: truth and God.” He also alluded to believing that five entities control the media, academia, and “everything else.” While Schnatter ostensibly keeps making these appearances to get back in pizza eaters’ good graces, it does little but remind us of why he was ousted in the first place and adds just another nonsensical sound bite to a long list of bizarre statements.
Back in 2018, it was reported that Schnatter used the N-word on a conference call that was ironically meant to help him avoid future public relations disasters. Shortly after those comments went public, Schnatter stepped down as chair of the board and soon left the company entirely. And somehow that was just the beginning.
Schnatter launched a truther website, savepapajohns.com, that featured a letter he wrote with lines like “The Board wants to silence me. So this is my website, and my way to talk to you,” and “As I said in a recent letter, I miss you all very much. More than words can express! Papa John’s is our life’s work and we will all get through this together somehow, some way.” Papa Johns senior director of public relations responded to the site by saying, “Just wanted to point out that all of our stakeholders want to save Papa John’s from John.”
Then there were mysterious NDAs, claims by Schnatter that he ate 40 pizzas in 30 days, and TikTok videos of Schnatter’s “Papa Castle” home, which for some reason includes a two-story-high sculpture of two eagles having sex that is also a clock.
As recently as November 2021, the Papa Johns brand ditched its apostrophe in order to further distance itself from its founder, and Schnatter was still trying to defend himself by claiming that he was taken down from the inside of his own company because he was simply too good, too much of a hero. And now, he’s hanging his hat on “truth” and “God.”
I hate that I even have to say this, but political ideology does not affect how pizza tastes. Even very bad people are potentially capable of making a very good pizza. Despite Schnatter’s claims that his departure and the lack of his values has affected the quality of Papa Johns pizza, we’ve found that it’s remained as it always was: pretty darn mediocre. In fact, one of the most exciting menu innovations came in the years after he left: the 2020 Papadia offered “perverse enjoyment,” per our taste testers. If anyone deserves credit for that menu item’s success, it would be Shaquille O’Neal, not God.