Pizza Poems: A review of healthy frozen pizzas, in verse

Pizza Poems: A review of healthy frozen pizzas, in verse

Illustration for article titled Pizza Poems: A review of healthy frozen pizzas, in verse
Graphic: Jimmy Hasse

Pizza, as a concept, never needs to be healthy. But that doesn’t stop the frozen pizza industry from trying, does it? In 2021, there are plenty of ways that companies try to serve up more “virtuous” alternative pies, and it’s worth taking a trip through the freezer aisle to see what’s on offer. I ate 14 “healthy” frozen pizzas: the vegan, the veggie, the high-protein, and the low-carb. Some were terrible—some downright inedible—but six were pretty damn great. So great, in fact, that my thoughts on them can only be communicated... in verse. Please enjoy the selection of poems you are about to hear, and bon appetit.

Allison Robicelli is a writer, recipe czar, former professional chef, author of four (quite good) books, and The People's Hot Pocket Princess. Tweet me for recipe help: @Robicellis.

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Urban Pie Hemp Seed Six Cheese (Villanelle)

Urban Pie Hemp Seed Six Cheese (Villanelle)

Illustration for article titled Pizza Poems: A review of healthy frozen pizzas, in verse
Photo: Urban Pie

As I sit at the kitchen table contemplating Urban Pie
Fingers lightly tracing the arc of its hemp seed crust
I feel my body tingle where my pizza feelings lie

It has Omegas, three and six, their health benefits high
But I laugh as if they matter to my molten six-cheese lust
As I sit at the kitchen table contemplating Urban Pie

They say hemp is a superfood to help me speak the lies
I need to tell myself in my own voice to understand
I feel my body tingle where my pizza feelings lie

No seeds can cancel out cheese grease and shouldn’t even try
But still I eat the pizza without guilt or reprimand
As I sit at the kitchen table contemplating Urban Pie

This pizza can not save a soul it knows all men must die
But flavor—oh, it’s flavor!—gives my tongue ecstatic throes!
I feel my body tingle where my pizza feelings lie

The seeds impart a nuttiness, a taste both strong and sly
A balance for the salty cheese, a feat that warrants prose
As I sit at the kitchen table contemplating Urban Pie
I feel my body tingle where my pizza feelings lie

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3 / 9

Banza Four Cheese Pizza (Free Verse)

Banza Four Cheese Pizza (Free Verse)

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Photo: Banza

We sat on the floor that night eating Banza you and
I in the spot where the couch had stood from the
third of October four years ago til this morning when
we found the ants

no one had spoken when a cup of Cherry Pepsi
found its contents gushing through the cushion seams
like a river tears through rock

the children saw nothing

perhaps it was a ghost
(it’s always ghosts)

We sat on the floor you and I tired and sore with
hands covered in dust and sticky syrup and
too tired and broken to cook
stomachs wrenching with hunger and anger
and sadness for our fallen couch

delivery would take too long i said
and there’s a Banza pizza in the freezer
with a chickpea crust I’ve never tasted and
know nothing about
but it’s here
and we’re here
and we’re hungry

You made it because my back hurt

I cut it because you’re shit at fractions
(you’re still perfect to me)

It was smaller than a dinner plate
but stretched our eyes into saucers
as we bit into a crunchy bottom crust rich with olive
oil and flavor like the panelle sandwiches that
make me scream blessings for my Sicilian ancestors

I get to the crust and hold it my fist
to nibble like the taralli I’d eat while hiding
behind my nonna’s housecoat
while she vacuumed up the crumbs

I forgot you were there for a minute

I still missed you while I was gone
(don’t worry. never worry.)

You smiled and said you didn’t
think frozen pizza could be this good and
that you expected to be disappointed
while I stared at the crumbs in your big red beard
and your big red hands still sore from lifting
without much help from my broken back or
the children who are off searching for the
Pepsi ghosts

The pizza is too small to share with
them and that’s just fine because tonight I
want to be greedy
with four cheeses and sauce
and your big red beard

I love Banza Pizza

But not like you
(I love nothing as I love you)

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Amy’s Veggie Crust Cheese Pizza (Sestina)

Amy’s Veggie Crust Cheese Pizza (Sestina)

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Photo: Amy’s

For my own protection, I do not expect much from frozen pizza
I have treated it as an oddity, a perversion, a guilty pleasure
A way to satiate sinful urges that demand pepperoni or stuffed crust
Or sometimes both. Sometimes more.
These dark desires have never called for cauliflower, broccoli, or sweet potatoes
But Amy’s thinks it can change me

Do I believe Amy’s—or I, myself—can move me?
I’ve never planned for a respectable, responsible dinner involving frozen pizza
As I have many times with cauliflower, broccoli, and sweet potatoes
And I believe in the glory (and relish every second) of guilty pleasures,
The thrilling smacks of naughtiness which, as I’ve grown, I stumble upon no more
I’ve stopped smoking cigarettes. I’ve stopped drinking gin. Leave me be with my croissant crust

Truly, croissants should never have been considered a cromulent pizza crust!
And that is precisely why it appeals to me
Someone built a pie of cheese and sauce and thought, “No, I must have more”
“More saturated fat, more salt, more everything wrong (but so right) about frozen pizza”
It exists for vice. It exists for pleasure
Not for cauliflower, broccoli, or sweet potatoes

I can’t fathom staring and a heap of cauliflower, broccoli, and sweet potatoes
And thinking “Now that would make one damn delicious pizza crust”?
It seems a complete misunderstanding of the concept of pleasure
I know how to crave vegetables in a violent way. They are dear to me.
Vegetables are not what is needed when the demons in my belly bellow for frozen pizza
They want mouth burning, cheese-oozing grease-drenched violence, and nothing more.

But I find myself crawling towards better things. I’ve walked miles on the bodies of demons I’ve slain, and shall walk miles more
It’s made my body weary. It’s made it grow old. It’s made it cry out for cauliflower, broccoli, and sweet potatoes
And with an exasperated sigh admit I need them more than (I think) I need pizza.
I’ve praised Amy’s in the realm of frozen burritos. I prayed for Amy’s in the realm of alternative pizza crust.
I cut the pizza into six slices; the wheel audibly smashing through crispy edges speckled with burnt cheese. The noise pleased me.
It folded with a snap like a bar pie. Again, I am reminded of how small a sound can be so outsized with pleasure.

I sat eating quietly, with every bite forcing me to rethink my definition of guilty pleasure
It is a bruise that hurts when you touch it, the pain making you want to touch it more. Much more
The discomfort has always been irresistible to me
But now I’m dar to be better. Now I’m presented with cauliflower, broccoli, and sweet potatoes
That have been turned into an utterly astounding crust
More irresistible than uncomfortable. More irresistible than what I knew as frozen pizza.

An undercurrent of caramelized tomatoes shakes me, I lick its remains off the tips of my fingers with pleasure
This is now what I want out of frozen pizza. I want all this and more
I want cauliflower, broccoli, and sweet potatoes. I want Amy’s veggie crust.

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5 / 9

California Pizza Kitchen Artisanal Style Cheese (Acrostic)

California Pizza Kitchen Artisanal Style Cheese (Acrostic)

Illustration for article titled Pizza Poems: A review of healthy frozen pizzas, in verse
Photo: CPK/Nestle

Can I truly love
Artisanal-style cheese pizza
Laden with mozzarella, Asiago, Romano, ricotta and Parmesan
If its warm, bubbling virtues are offered atop a cauliflower crust?
For it could be a crust that perches
On a throne of dietary deception with lactose-smothered lies
Righteously crowing of its high protein and low carbs
Not caring for flavor or texture, nor for beauty or truth, feeling it’s
Inherent gluten-less-ness was more than enough, and all that I deserve?
Am I a fool to wish for more? To want to

Part my lips for a cauliflower crust that strives to be
Indistinguishable from the real thing? To appease the patron saints of
Zaftig thighs and 3 a.m. munchies; to humble the bar pie
Zealots with their heels firmly planted in double-zero dough, swearing on a stack of round
Aluminum trays with eyes firmly to god that it could never be done?

Keeping walls up around my heart — walls that have grown taller and taller with every flaccid, flavorless cauliflower crust—
Is no way to heal. No way to trust. No way to eat.
Trust cannot be earned without honesty, and so I handed my heart to
California Pizza Kitchen’s new line of cauliflower-crust frozen pizzas
Hoping for the best. I was rewarded for my faith with a cracker-thin crust, a glorious snap
Echoing in my ears as my teeth smashed through it again and again, til the pie was gone.
Never again shall I doubt. Never again shall I want. California Pizza Kitchen has laid the spectres of soggy cauliflower crusts into eternal repose.

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6 / 9

Sweet Earth Veggie Lover’s Pizza (Sonnet)

Sweet Earth Veggie Lover’s Pizza (Sonnet)

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Photo: Sweet Earth

I long for vegetable pizza that sings
Of springtime and summer and warm fresh air
That tastes of true freshness with pops and zings
From zesty tomatoes and peppers fair
Garlicky mushrooms both button and wild
Green Brussels sprouts that stand firm to the tooth
Pungent oregano, basil that’s mild
Psyllium fiber to help you go poop
Olive oil, onions, and charred broccoli
Atop whole wheat crust, and I can forgive
Its slight of tradition with dairy-free
mozzarella-style cheese alternative
In pre-frozen circles, I taste nature’s kiss
Oh darling, Sweet Earth, your pizza is bliss

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7 / 9

Against the Grain Gluten Free Three Cheese (Haiku)

Against the Grain Gluten Free Three Cheese (Haiku)

Illustration for article titled Pizza Poems: A review of healthy frozen pizzas, in verse
Photo: Against the Grain

Against the Grain’s crust
tastes like Fogo de Chao’s bread.
The top? Like Ellio’s.

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8 / 9

Elegy For All The Unfortunate Pizzas

Elegy For All The Unfortunate Pizzas

Illustration for article titled Pizza Poems: A review of healthy frozen pizzas, in verse
Photo: vanbeets (Getty Images)

In anguish, my eyes follow the blades of the fan on the ceiling
While I lay sprawled across the bed, cold hands on my warm tummy
I breathe deeply, commanding it calm it’s motions, all stormy and rumbly
I have eaten too many frozen pizzas, and lo the pain I’m feeling

Cauliflower crusts can be so good, but if done wrong they’re brutal
Somona’s tasted like limp stale toast and dried out my mouth
Real Good was real terrible, each bite went further south
I had high hopes for Caulipower, but it’s attempts were futile

I faced a philosophical pizza quandary thanks to Newman’s Own
And Daiya, which both made pies reminiscent of Chuck E. Cheese
Which isn’t good by any means, but still, does not it please?
Perhaps I would have found some virtue in them had I never grown.

Some pizzas that I ate had no vegetables gone incognito
Life Cuisine” was Lean Cuisine using a different name, a cheater!
All I can say of Udi’s was that it tasted like floor cleaner
And Quest confirmed my bias that no pizzas should be keto

I banish the salt from my body, chugging pints of water as I must
I know that in a few days I’ll be free of pain and regret
I do these sorts of things enough to have a mantra: never forget
I have loyal readers who depend on me to sort out healthy pizza crust

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Allison Robicelli is a writer, recipe czar, former professional chef, author of four (quite good) books, and The People's Hot Pocket Princess. Tweet me for recipe help: @Robicellis.

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