“Hey, have you ever tried these Supreme’s Pizza-Burgers?”
When I sent this text and the above photo to various family and friends, I wasn’t quite ready for the response. Older folks reccalled Supreme’s being served for school lunch, or they’d remember scarfing down patties at the roller rink. A fellow millennial said, “All I know is that seeing that box unlocked some sort of primal emotion.”
“Oh, god,” said another, who went on to recount the events of an early-2000s LAN party during which a box of nearly five-year-old Pizza-Burgers was the only thing left in the freezer. Other testimony included such phrases as “grease ball” and “deadly in the best way,” and everyone who consumed them survived to tell the tale.
Apparently, these “beef pattie[s] blended with pizza sauce with cheese center” have a way of sticking in people’s memories as much as their stomachs. Maybe that’s because the box art and branding doesn’t appear to have changed over the past five or six decades. So how have I missed out on Supreme’s, if I’ve been passing right by them in the freezer aisle on nearly every grocery trip of my life? In the year 2023, it’s time to rectify this situation.
How to cook a Supreme’s Pizza-Burger
Per the back of the box, Supreme’s frozen meat pucks can be pan fried, baked, broiled, or “for extra flavor… place cooked Pizza-Burgers in your favorite warm Spaghetti Sauce and use it to compliment your sandwich.” But I opted to go old-school: four patties on a charcoal grill, two plain and the others topped with an additional slice of American or Swiss-merican (Ameri-Swiss?) cheese.
Supreme’s Pizza-Burgers taste warm, uncomplicated, and cheesy, just like fond memories. Even as someone who waited until adulthood to scarf my first Pizza-Burger, I can see the nostalgic appeal. The ghost of the blended pizza sauce adds a slight, not quite metallic tang to the flavor, but the star of the show is that injection of internal goopiness provided by the cheese. I promise, this is much more appetizing than it sounds.
In short, my test batch tasted like the hamburgers you’d typically find lounging in their own juices on a buffet or lunch line, only tastier and decidedly less boring. The kiss of the grill amps up the experience, and I found myself genuinely looking forward to eating the leftovers the next day. Oh, and a word of advice: That extra slice of cheese on top definitely elevates the experience.
All things considered, Supreme’s Pizza-Burgers are pretty darned affordable. My six-pack clocked in at $5.85 and, while they’re by no means “healthy,” the 135 calories per pattie sits lower on the junk food scale than I’d expected. High in sodium? Sure, but if you’re going to be sweating over the grill, you’ll need to get a little salt back into your system anyway.
How to make the best Pizza-Burger
In our current food climate, Supreme’s is something of a rarity. As far as my research can determine, the company boasts no website that I could find (not even of the horrible Facebook variety), and its internet presence is next to nil. So, I resorted to the old-fashioned method: I tracked down the company’s phone number and cold-called.
And wouldn’t you know it, someone picked up! After I awkwardly introduced myself, the voice on the other end confirmed a few things, including that the company’s distribution is “mostly Midwest-based.” But memories of Supreme’s seem to linger, even among the region’s expats.
“We get people that call from all over the place—Florida, Texas—and they say, ‘I used to live in [Wisconsin] and I wanna know if you can ship me those Pizza-Burgers,’” said the representative. “It’s very interesting. We have shipped in the past. Obviously, the customer has to pay for the shipping, but we have shipped in the past.”
For the most part, your best bet will be to look for the signature red, white, and green boxes next time you find yourself within range of a Midwest grocer like Festival or Pick ’n Save. The representative was able to confirm my suspicion that Supreme’s decision to stick with the retro-style packaging “was intentional.”
When asked about Supreme’s association with school lunches, the anonymous spokesperson chuckled.
“I hear that all the time!” they said. “People or their kids used to have them in school, and that’s something we constantly hear.”
Supreme’s Pizza-Burgers hold an interesting place in the freezer of regional nostalgia. Even the disparagements I heard were said in jest, and friends who hadn’t sampled the burgers simply said, “I’d try it.” I’d be remiss if I didn’t steer readers toward another Pizza-Burger retrospective from Tyler Maas of the Milwaukee Record, who I may have encountered sometime in the distant past. But I’m getting old and can’t be sure. I need to clear out those memory spaces for new experiences, or for very old ones like Supreme’s.