As children, we were told many, many lies, but none was more misleading than a certain myth perpetrated by the good folks at Totino's, whose pizza roll ads depicted an entire slice of pepperoni being rolled up and transformed into a bite-sized, mouth-burning pocket of bliss.
That didn't stop most of us from devouring endless numbers of the little suckers after school, or during sleepovers at Rodi Pierce's house (we all had a friend named Rodi Pierce, right?). But I've long wondered: how many pizza rolls' innards would it take to cover an entire pizza? And would it be good? Well, it's time to find out. Bring napkins. This is gonna be messy.
I went out and scored a 12in pre-made pizza crust and enough pizza rolls to fuel an entire sleepover's worth of watching Cinemax while Mom is sleeping. The rolls were prepped one 40-count bag at a time, and cooked for five minutes less than the recommended bake time in order to avoid third-degree burns and to conserve filling: as anyone who has caught themselves licking a post-Totino's cookie sheet can attest, these suckers have a tendency to burst in the oven.
Once sufficiently cooled, I meticulously squeezed each roll like a greasy tube of toothpaste and into a bowl (fun fact: each pizza roll contains approximately one teaspoon of pizza guts). I then spread the contents evenly over the crust until I achieved full coverage. Many, many pizza rolls were harmed, and many, many greasy fingerprints found their way into my kitchen.
The first 40 pizza rolls
Ok, so maybe I didn't totally avoid burning the hell out of my fingers, but there's a learning curve in most science classes. Though it doesn't usually involve blisters. Que sera.
Originally, I hypothesized that it would take about 160 pizza rolls to get full coverage, but I was surprised to see the first bag covered about half the pie. Which is to say, I might have a lot of leftover pizza rolls. I wonder if my wife would notice if I subscribed to Cinemax...
Thirty-eight more pizza rolls
Knowing that I was going to cover this bad boy with the contents of bag two, I switched my methodology and began squeezing rolls directly onto the crust, but only after letting them cool sufficiently (Mom, I learned something today!). And the verdict is... 78! Seventy-eight precious pizza rolls (or about two bags worth), will net you one 12in pizza, fully covered. Science!
But how does it taste?
Look at that thing. If you didn't know it was comprised of the guts of the frozen snack that accompanied so many episodes of Duck Tales, it'd look pretty sexy, wouldn't it? That's the magic of a little grated Parmesan. Yes, maybe that's cheating, but you know what? Why don't you try squeezing out 78 hot pizza rolls and then refuse to treat yourself.
But does it taste as good as it looks, or is it basically just a glorified Totino's Party Pizza? And is Duck Tales on? I hope Duck Tales is on. This would taste so much better if it was.
Sweet Scrooge McDuck! It's not half bad! It's like somebody took all the sauce, cheese, and "pepperoni" from one of those Party Pizzas and slopped it onto the crust from Chuck E. Cheese's, but didn't force you to listen to terrifying robots sing pop songs. Was it worth the time, and getting rid of all those empty pizza roll tubes? Trick question: I ate most of those, sucker.
But no, it's not great. Also not great is my stomach. My couch -- and some sweet, sexy Cinemax -- are now calling.
(Editor's note: Because food waste is bad, Thrillist has made a donation to the Oregon Food Bank to offset the wasted pizza rolls.)
Andy Kryza is a senior editor on Thrillist's Food & Drink team who really should have invoiced some Tums for this one. Follow him to the nearest pharmacy via @apkryza.