Photo: Kevin Pang

In 1995, Pizza Hut transformed the delivery pizza industry. That year it introduced a pizza where the crust was stuffed with an extrusion of cheese, a concept at that point so novel and ostentatious that a New York real estate tycoon would shill for it.

The passage of time normalizes what once seemed like vulgarities. That brash real estate tycoon would be elected president of the United States. And in subsequent years, America would see its pizza crust stuffed and topped with mac ‘n’ cheese, hot dogs, and bacon. If we’ve learned anything about the delivery pizza industry, it’s that it is a shark that must keep swimming. It’s forward momentum or death.

Pizza Hut’s latest Frankenstein was hatched in mid-November, and on the spectrum of grotesqueness vis-a-vis 2017, the Ultimate Cheesy Crust Pizza feels downright restrained. Its hallmark is 16 detachable coves filled with a melted five-cheese blend of mozzarella, white cheddar, provolone, asiago, and fontina.

Whether you separate the cheese pockets from the wedge is up to you. I’ve actually found the rounded crust to contour nicely around my hand, especially with a three-finger pronged grip.

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Photo: Kevin Pang

What I found mildly disappointing was the crust did not have the buttery, focaccia-like texture I’ve enjoyed in Pizza Hut’s pan pizzas. With this pie there isn’t that oily sheen that indicates crispiness, instead a dull baked dough quality with dots protruding from the underside for the semblance of crunch. The flavors bear the subtle sweetness of a milk loaf or Parker House roll, which matches up well to the savory, gooey cheese blend.

Of course, it’s just pizza by any other name. Longtime fans of Pizza Hut (present company included) will continue to feel validated; the inverse will be true with Pizza Hut naysayers. But as a food to store in our time capsule, this pie encapsulates 2017 rather well: A standard fare delivery pizza with easier, more convenient handles, and a reason for a considerable amount of additional cheese.

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Photo: Kevin Pang