You may have missed it if you were preoccupied with digging up a heart-shaped pizza over Valentine's Day, but Papa John's was looking for input on a new pizza style. It wasn't an open-ended question, so Pizza McPizzaface isn't going to be the new flavor.
Fans of the pepperoncini-loving chain were given four pizzas with the potential to hit menus nationwide. All of them seem like something you might find at a local pizza shop but are a little daring for the typically more conservative national chains. The four options included Huevos Rancheros, which sounds good but leaves questions about how those eggs will be cooked. There was The Roast, in honor of the year of the pig, featuring smoked pulled pork, bacon, onions, and chili hoisin BBQ sauce. And there was also the moderately confusing Un-Pizza. That was described as "all of your favorite things that make pizza amazing just without the dough." Okay?
As you already surmised from the headline, none of those three were top of the class. The new pizza will be Hot Honey Chicken and Waffles, which sounds like a passably adventurous pizza to which a large chain might be able to do justice. It took home more than 70% of the total fan vote. It features crispy chicken, waffle crumbles, bacon, cheese, and a drizzle of spicy honey.
Getting fans of the chain involved this way may be part of its ongoing efforts to bounce back from a tough 2018 that included struggles after founder John Schnatter used a racial slur on a call. (Not to mention experts pointing out that the company is struggling to keep pace with low prices competitors are offering.) That combined with the company's stance on NFL players protesting racial injustice resulted in a deluge of incidents, including Schnatter stepping down as CEO, Schnatter having his face removed from boxes, and Schnatter suing the company, all of which was followed by an apology and bias training for employees. The company has been working to put all of that in the past even though Schnatter is still moving a lawsuit forward against the nation's third-largest pizza chain where he still sits on the board of directors.
Nonetheless! Chicken and waffles pizza will be coming to your doorstep soon. The company hasn't revealed the release date yet, saying that it will be rolled out "later this year."