Pizza Hut's newest offering, P'Zolo stuffed sub sandwiches, are attempting to torpedo Subway. And while this isn't the worst campaign the Hut has ever waged, the P'Zolo is definitely on its short list of food flubs. Subway has become massively popular -- as evidenced by its sales and expansion -- during the economic downturn. Its signature $5-Footlong sandwiches are a boon to folks who have less to spend, since you can cram an awful lot of price-inclusive fillings into a 12-inch sammie. It's tough for other sandwich shops to pursue a horizontally-competitive marketing campaign against this deal, and the same-tier chains aren't really trying to right now.
So why the devil is Pizza Hut?
Perhaps the company has temporarily tired of price/product sparring with Domino's Pizza. That's a genuine pity, because watching those two pie-purveyors go at it usually means the consumer public benefits -- in the form of cheaper priced pizzas/better specials from both places.
If Pizza Hut execs had some smarts right now, they'd be trying to work out how to take down Little Caesars, with its $5 Hot-N-Ready pizzas taking bites out of their profits. Instead, they're going after subs. The P'Zolo sandwiches are filled, baked pizza dough, and come in three flavors: Italian Steak, with sliced beef, peppers, onions and mushrooms; Meat Trio, with Italian sausage, pepperoni and ham; and Buffalo Chicken, with strips of chicken breast and buffalo sauce. Basically, it looks like the Hut just recycled ingredients it had on hand, and the ranch dressing or marinara sauce they come with can't disguise that.
I ordered one each of the P'Zolo offerings to see if they even stand a chance of denting Subway's shiny armor. In a word: no. The three sandwiches arrived lukewarm, small, shriveled and oily. All three had one thing in common: They were arid as the f*cking Sahara, and no amount of side dipping sauce was going to fix them.
The Italian Steak was filled with tough, low-grade slivers of beef, mushy green bell pepper and onion strips, and a few tiny slices of mushroom. The cheese inside had dried up and adhered to the roof of the dough inside the sandwich, which gave it a tunnel sort-of appearance in cross-section, and neither the ranch nor marinara sides made it taste like anything other than a bad slice of pizza with ranch or marinara on it.
The Meat Trio was dehydrated crust stuffed with a profusion of dry sausage. I could only manage one bite.
But the Buffalo Chicken was probably the worst of the three: The chicken pieces were desiccated and covered with evidence of buffalo sauce that had long since disappeared into both the meat and the inner dough, and the whole sandwich was so turgid that I could have easily used it as a Wiffle ball bat.
If Pizza Hut is seriously using this 0-for-3 triad of subs to score a home-run against Subway, then it had better pack its bats and balls and leave the park now.
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Pizza Hut's new P'Zolo sandwiches get a big, fat P'Zero -- which is the only thing either big or fat about them.