Domino’s Pizza – Better by the Bite

There’s a lot of buzz out there around the new Domino’s Pizza, so when was invited to spend a day the at the Domino’s headquarters in Ann Arbor, Michigan, we jumped at the chance. I first tried the new Domino’s back in May and I really liked the new pizza, so I was looking forward to going behind the scenes to meet the brain trust.

When arriving in Ann Arbor I was met by the reps from Domino’s, other media bloggers and writers from other guy-related websites. Our group hit it off right away and the Domino’s team was first class from the start. When I made it to headquarters the lobby and artwork told the story of a company that has been around for 50 years (they are celebrating that milestone in December 2010) and a company in resurgence. We settled into the comfortable board room and enjoyed some refreshments to get things underway. Phil Lozen, the Social Media Specialist for Domino’s, took us to the Michigan Supply Chain Center about 20 minutes from headquarters. It was at the distribution center that we witnessed the precision and commitment to quality that is the engine that keeps this company running. The dough making process is clean, accurate and streamlined. The quality control system is also excellent, as Domino’s is careful to x-ray each dough ball to ensure that there are no objects in the dough that don’t belong. It was also interesting to see how important the distribution center is to Domino’s franchisees as they not only deliver the ingredients but help manage and stock inventory at individual Domino’s stores.

Our way back to headquarters brought us to the test kitchen where our media team had the pleasure of learning all about the ingredients from Brandon Solano (Vice President Marketing & Retail Innovation, Head Chef) and Sam Fauser (Training Specialist). Both of these men are seen regularly in Domino’s TV commercials, but they are down to earth and really, really passionate about Domino’s and it shows. In the test kitchen we also learned about the improved ingredients that go into the dough, sauce and toppings at Domino’s and the numerous trial runs to “get it right and tight.” No crazy photo shoots are needed to make Domino’s pizzas look good – check out this video and you’ll see how things used to be done.

Then it was time to make our own Domino’s pizza and I must say mine came out even better that I could have imagined. Regular dough, plenty of sauce, mixture of cheeses with provolone, pepperoni, onion, roasted red peppers, sun dried tomato and the kicker was new sliced sausage that was simply off the charts. Once my pizza went onto the oven it took 6 minutes and 30 seconds to bake. (Their newest oven can pump out pies in approx. 5 minutes flat!) Once the pizza is taken out of the oven those who want the garlic butter crust apply the goods on the crust and it melts right in. This gives each customer the choice of having garlic butter crust or just sticking with the regular crust. I should have entered my pizza in the Domino’s “Show us your Pizza” contest because mine was a winner. Our media crew did pretty well (hey, we had serious help) and once we headed back to the board room to chow down everyone loved their pizza.

Towards the end of lunch executives from Domino’s joined us for sneak previews of some new commercials and a wide open question and answer period. This was very informative for all parties present as it was made clear to me that Domino’s has some very sharp people in charge of branding, marketing and product development. This isn’t the Domino’s of the 80’s and 90’s and when their team talks about quality and transparency they mean it! Let’s face it, Domino’s has been running a great marketing campaign over the past 8 or 9 months and that’s what convinced me to try their pizza again. But without the product to back it up any company will eventually fall short.

With somewhere around 5,000 stores in the U.S., Domino’s pizza is being put to the test just about every second of every day. When I tried the new Domino’s and was asked by folks how could the new Domino’s be that good at such a competitive price point I told them to try it for themselves and the feedback was positive. The Domino’s team understands that it takes time to change perceptions and with the new products and brilliant offline and online campaigns Domino’s is turning into an American comeback story!


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Burger King’s “Whopper” still packs a punch!

Most of us grew up eating all different kinds of fast food but only a few of those treats are still for sale on a current menu. The Burger King Whopper is one of those still standing in a sea of competition and I must say this burger still “packs a punch”! There are plenty of burgers that are larger and fancier but there is something about the Whopper that holds true. Maybe it’s the simplicity of the toppings?

I remember when the 1/4 pound of flame-fresh beef was considered one of the biggest out there but you don’t have to be the biggest to be one of the best fast food burgers. Granted in keeping our wastelines somewhat under control we can’t eat the Whopper everyday but when it’s time for those guilty pleasures the King still has a winner in the Whopper. Burger King will probably be going through some changes here soon but let’s hope the Whopper keeps it’s prominent place on their menu!

Whopper facts:
A ¼ pound* of flame-fresh beef, ripe tomatoes, crisp lettuce, creamy mayo, ketchup, crunchy pickles and onions on a toasted sesame seed bun. It’s America’s Favorite Burger**. The Original. The WHOPPER®.

*Based on pre-cooked patty weight.
** Based on preference

670 calories | 11g sat. fat | 75mg cholesterol | 11g sugar | 51g carbs |
40g fat | 1.5g trans fat | 29g protein | 1020mg sodium |

Allergens: Wheat, Soy, Egg


Jamba Juice now offering the Cheeseburger Chill

If there’s one thing the good people of Jamba Juice know, it’s fruit. So why would they try to get into the burger business? In truth, they aren’t – this video is just a strong right hook at the fast food industry, which has started to encroach on Jamba Juice territory by offering concoctions they try to pass off as smoothies. Those abominations are about as much smoothie as the cheeseburger shake is a burger, and yet, people order them. That got us to thinking, if people are willing to eat fast food smoothies, who would be willing to eat a cheeseburger shake?

1. Frat guys – If fraternities have a reputation for one thing, it’s their filth. It’s not networking, job prospects, close friends, or even great parties. The real frats, frats that people like you and me went to skill with, were disgusting. They had horrific hazing rituals. Their members (my friends among them) would find absurd bets like “who can kill the most wounded soldiers at the next house party.” These guys would love to ingest a cheeseburger milkshake. You can almost guarantee that a brother at your local party school has tried this very thing to rid himself of a nasty hangover or win the approval of the rest of the house.

2. Hot dog stand regulars – At three in the morning, few things sound quite as good as a hotdog loaded down with onions, jalapenos, chili, coleslaw, and healthy squirt of stadium mustard across the top. For some people, that sounds good at nine in the morning. And for lunch. And as a mid day snack. When you’re in such a hurry to give yourself kidney stones, why not slurp the food through a straw, right? Right.

3. Extreme runners – When I first read about Dean Karnazes I was enchanted. The guy lost it at a party, sprinted into the night and didn’t stop running until morning. That was just the beginning of an insane career. He has gone on to compete in marathons and supermarathons, sometimes entering himself in team competitions and running against five other men by himself. He ran 50 marathons in 50 days across 50 states. He’s completely insane, but he keeps his body going by guzzling calories as he runs. He orders pizzas on the go, snacks on eclairs mid-run. He needs the ridiculous caloric intake just to keep his body running. The cheeseburger shake is perfect for this guy – a calorie bomb you can sip as you sprint.

4. Fast Food fanatics – If you’ve seen Morgan Spurlock’s “Super Size Me,” you know there are people in this world that would prefer the Big Mac to a nice hand-pattied burger. For those few people, you can imagine the cheeseburger shake would be the perfect treat. It’s salty, disgusting, and consumable in three minutes or less. What more could you want?

5. Britney Spears – Britney Spears is a wreck. A complete and utter mess of a human being. When she isn’t flashing her hoo-hah or pressing ham for the paparazzi, she’s busy driving with her kids on her lap and having public – very public – psychotic breakdowns. She’s also known to step into gas station bathrooms barefoot. I don’t know what kind of gas stations you go to, but the bathrooms I see at the local Kwik-N-Go are like something from a horror movie. If the walls aren’t smeared in human excrement there’s usually used toilet paper strewn about and a cocktail of bodily fluid stewing in the turlet. If Britney can stomach that mess without so much as a pair of shoes (much less a biohazard suit), you can bet she’d be willing to slurp down a burger shake without thinking twice.


More tasty (and some spicy) snacks from Frito-Lay

It was a beautiful day at my house recently back when I received a package from Frito-Lay of snacks to try and review right here. I had already found their Doritos Burn Flavor chips locally and I’m craving them again as we speak. Anyway, I offered to review some other Frito-Lay snacks that I hadn’t tried. And here they are, in no particular order:

Funyun’s Flamin’ Hot Onion Flavored Rings–Another extension of the Frito-Lay “Flamin’ Hot” franchise, complete with the red glow that works its way onto your fingers as you eat them. I love Funyun’s, and I love spicy food, so this was a slam dunk for me. I could probably eat 10 bags of these right now.

Chee-tos Giant cheese puffs–If Eric Cartman were a real person, he would eat these. We’re talking balls that measure one inch (some more) around, that for some folks would require two bites. The novelty alone was worth trying them for, but it’s not like you’ll want to sit around and munch on these. They taste fine, but when you eat the smaller variety, you get more cheese flavor all around.

Chee-tos Mighty Zingers Sharp Cheddar & Salsa Picante–Unlike the Giant puffs, these are the “fried” variety of Chee-tos. The “sharp cheddar” flavor are indeed nicely cheesy with just a bit more sharp bite than regular Chee-tos. And the salsa picante ones, which are the same color as the Flamin’ Hot snacks, have a hint of cheese but a more prominent salsa flavor–and an authentic one at that, in which you can taste both tomato and a hint of onion and hot peppers. Together these two flavors in one bag go together like peanut butter and jelly. No joke!

Lay’s brand Kettle Cooked Jalapeno Flavor Chips–Well, I’ll admit I’m not a huge fan of kettle cooked (i.e. extra crispy) potato chips. But hey, if I had a choice, I’d still rather eat a chip than a stalk of broccoli. So I dug in to these, and while they have a super crunch and a nice jalapeno spice, there is too much onion powder in these chips that overpowers them. Not only that, after eating a nice handful, I had onion breath and dry mouth for the rest of the day.

Doritos Late Night Tacos at Midnight Tortilla Chips–If you, like me, are old enough to remember when Doritos first came out, this one will take you back. Back then (I think maybe in the ’70’s?), they had plain corn, taco flavor and nacho cheese. And my favorite by far was the taco flavor, which they stopped making after a while, brought back and then stopped making again. Now it’s back disguised as this “Late Night” version, which is every bit as good as the original Taco flavor and then some. In fact, you can almost close your eyes here and feel like you’re eating a fast food taco. And we all know how great those taste after a few beers, so the “Late Night” tag on these is an arrow through the hearts and taste buds of those who troll the convenience store aisles late at night. Seriously though, these chips are just awesome, even in the middle of the day.

I hope you had as much fun reading this as I did eating and writing. But I don’t know how that’s possible, so go try some!


Doritos’ new flavors bold, spicy and awesome

When I first heard about Doritos’ Burn flavor chips, I thought it was a promotional stunt or something to sell more Pepsi, which was the focus of the radio commercial I heard.  But being a snack food junkie and a lover of all things spicy, I kept looking for this stuff in stores.  Finally, I found it, at a Walgreens here in Madison, Wisconsin no less.  And let me tell you, the First and Second Degree Burn flavors are positively awesome, and spicier than any snack food I’ve ever tasted.  Frito-Lay tells me Third Degree Burn was only available for a short time, and sadly I didn’t get to try it.  But here are the ones I did try….

First Degree Burn (Blazing Jalapeno)–These chips are hot and also have a strong jalapeno flavor.  And the heat, which I’d rate as an 8 out of 10, is subtle and somewhat pleasant, like a spicy food drug.

Second Degree Burn (Flaming Buffalo)--This chip has a tangier flavor, just like, well, Buffalo wing sauce.  And like first degree, the heat sneaks up on you, but this one is more like an unexpected kick to the groin, a 9 out of 10 on the heat index.  What’s more, they get hotter and hotter the more you eat.  But if you like spicy food, that’s one of the best parts.

Late Night Cheeseburger–Not spicy at all, but part of the new Late Night lines from Doritos.  These taste like a McDonald’s cheeseburger, but you taste onions first and foremost, and, like with all Doritos, the ones coated in cheese powder are the best tasting ones.  That’s especially true here, because otherwise the onion overwhelms the cheese.