Wednesday, June 10, 2015

#DOMINoNo: Free Pizza by Baseball, and a Domino's Pizza Crust Shoot-Out

There are a limited amount of true pleasures in this modern civilization. For me, one such thing is free pizza. Well, paid pizza is also on that list. But the first part of this blog post is about free pizza.

For this baseball season, last baseball season, and perhaps previous baseball seasons, whenever a pitcher pitches a no-hitter, Domino's and Major League Baseball will give free pizzas to the first 20,000 MLB website members to sign up for free pizza the next day, at noon Pacific time. The social media hashtag for this giveaway is #DOMINoNo.

Today was the first DOMINoNo giveaway of the season. For at least this season and last season, the first DOMINoNo giveaway of the season went down with some controversy. Last year, MLB didn't have enough bandwidth or server "power" to handle everyone trying to get free pizza. The subsequent one or two DOMINoNo giveaways went quite smoothly. In any case, if I recall correctly, I was able to score free pizzas every time.

This year, after a two or three minute website hiccup, it seems that 45,000 MLB website members were able to sign up for the free giveaway, and everyone was under the impression that they were going to get a code for free pizza in their email inbox. The "first" 20,000 did, in fact get a free pizza coupon code, and I was fortunately one of them. (The pizza was delicious.) The next 25,000 or so (as I have read on Reddit and Twitter and places like that) were given a coupon for 50% off a pizza. On the one hand, it was kind of a thoughtful gesture to provide a consolation "prize" for fast clickers who weren't fortunate enough to enter MLB's servers. One the other hand, they weren't directly informed that they did or did not win the free pizza, when they submitted their entry -- basically, bait and switch.

If last year is any indication, any potential next no-hitter DOMINoNo giveaway(s) should be relatively smoother. Hopefully.

While the above took several paragraphs to explain (brevity is not one of my strong suits), the second half of this blog post is about Domino's itself. Back in the '80s, '90s, and maybe even the early 2000s, the quality of Domino's pizza was reputed to be ... lacking. For the past year or so, I have been ordering random configurations of pizza crust style and toppings. I think I have ordered enough Domino's pizza to warrant a ...

DOMINO'S PIZZA CRUST SHOOT-OUT

According to the Domino's smartphone app and website, there are currently four kinds of pizza crust, as well as various pizza sauces may or may not be combined with certain crusts -- it's a bit strange. At the very least, I ordered four different kinds of Domino's pizza crust, and here are my rankings, from best to last:

Today's free pizza had ground beef and pineapple. I also paid for two other pizzas.

1. PAN PIZZA: Before this style of crust was on the menu, Domino's had a not-so-deep dish available for purchase. It wasn't very deep, and it was so-so in quality. Domino's relatively brand-new pan pizza is almost exactly like Pizza Hut's pan pizza, but less greasy. It is basically a superior substitute to the Pizza Hut pan pizza. Perhaps that's why Pizza Hut has been branching out to different kinds of crust. The pan pizza is only available as a medium pizza, and the app only allows a limited variety of pizza sauces for this crust. It is usually cut into eight slices.

2. THIN CRUST: I am a fan of the microwavable, roof shingle-like Mama Celeste brand of freezer-section pizzas. It reminds me of my childhood, like twist donuts. Domino's thin crust pizza reminds me of Mama Celeste's pizza. They also cut the large version of this pizza in to 16 squares (well, 8 squares, 4 round-edged pieces, and 4 corner wedges), so the thin crust pizza might be good for parties and occasions where you have to feed more than ... one or two people.

This thin crust pizza has three different kinds of cheeses and a white cheese sauce, reminiscent of Mama Celeste's four-cheese pizza.

3. "BROOKLYN"-STYLE CRUST: If you order a large Brooklyn-style pizza, they will cut it into six slices. When you eat this extra-wide slice, you're supposed to fold it in half, like a sort of pizza taco. This pizza is certainly fun to eat like a taco, and the cooks usually make this crust extra soft, so you can fold it. If over-sized pizza is your thing, though, I suggest the $10 full pie at the outdoor Costco eatery. You don't have to be a member of Costco to buy food from their outdoor food court. You're limited to four topping configurations -- cheese-only, pepperoni, the works, and the "secret menu" vegetarian pizza (the works minus pepperoni and sausage) -- but it is delicious all the same. I suggest the cheese-only pizza, and hopefully they'll make it extra cheesy for you.

It's the Pizzapocalypse at Costco!

4. HAND-TOSSED CRUST: This is the basic, default Domino's pizza. The bread is thin on the bottom, with relatively large pizza crust, albeit a bit dry, like Papa John's or Little Caesar's round pizza. If you're into this style, I suggest you go for the Domino's Brooklyn-style instead, or better yet, get Papa John's. At least you get a tub of melted buttery oil to dip your dry pizza crust at Papa John's.

Bonus Tip #1: If you're going to Little Caesar's instead, try their square, Detroit-style deep dish instead of their default round pizza. My experience is that Little Caesar's, at least my local one, uses canned mushrooms -- so avoid mushrooms as your topping, if you dislike canned mushrooms.

Bonus Tip #2: This blog post covers large-chain pizza restaurants, so that the random blog reader can identify with similar locations. If you have a local, non-chain pizza place, try to patronize that restaurant more often. You can keep it a relative secret, you hipster you, as long as your local community does its part to keep that independent restaurant in business. This goes for non-pizza local restaurants and other local small businesses as well.

Cheers!

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