Thursday, April 3, 2014

Latest Word On My Search for School "Boat" Pizza

 Yep, I'm back with this again, and with some interesting developments this time around. If you are unaware, this is the third installment of the Pizza Search articles in which I've been trying to track down my favorite school cafeteria item, the now seemingly elusive "boat pizza". Basically, it was a French bread pizza with the little square pepperoni, but as simple as that sounds, the taste was unique and DELICIOUS! Truly one of my all-time favorite foods! And I haven't had it in, well, a long time! And I want it! NOW! AAARRRGGH!! So, lately, I've been on a search to try to find out where I can buy it again, and also taste testing other pizzas that may or may not be similar. There was recently one in the vending machine at my day job that looked very similar, like a distinct possibility, but it was a dud. Already posted about that one. Posted about several already in fact. Well, a few weeks ago, I found something very interesting in that same vending machine at work...



You're probably thinking, "Red Baron"? Not all that special. It's in every grocery store. I know, and I've had it before, and I don't recall it ever tasting like school pizza. Plus, I know, I know, this LOOKS like the OTHER school pizza I mentioned them having at school. The infamous "Pan Pizza", which supposedly was "cooler" to eat than the "boat pizza", don't ask me why. Just because it was a "snack bar" option, I guess. Well, regardless, I decided to give it a try. See how it says, "Fat Reduced Pepperoni"? I don't know if that's what all square pepperoni is, but I know that I've read that as a description for school pizza pepperoni before. Anyway, it made me curious. Plus, I hadn't had school Pan Pizza in forever either, so why not?

The unveiling...




And the cooking...




Not too pretty, is it? Plus, I had to cook it in a microwave, as I didn't take it home this time. Anyway, what's the verdict? Get ready for this.... The taste, it was familiar. It was, yes, it was, pretty similar to the pizza I'm searching for! Now, it wasn't right on, mind you. By no means is this a suitable substitute, but I gotta say, yeah, I tasted it there a bit. Of course, the crust is wrong and it's a different topping ratio and all, but it was something. It was good! Made me wonder, do they sell any Red Baron French Bread pizzas with square pepperoni? Do they even sell these in the local supermarket? I would have tried them again to have another sampling, but they're not in the machine this week... I DID check out the supermarket though. Here's what I found...




Yep, these "minis" were the closest thing I found in the store to the pizza from work. I believe they did have a Red Baron French bread pizza, but it didn't have the cubed pepperoni, so it definitely wasn't going to suit my needs. Well, I took these home and decided to give them a try...





How were they? Well... COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. Yeah, they weren't at all like the larger variety above. I gotta say, upon first taste, I didn't like these minis. But, I think it was just the huge disappointment of it all. Actually though, I did find the taste a bit familiar, and I THINK these basically tasted like the old "pan pizzas" we used to have at school that I was talking about before. The ones that looked like the larger version of these, and that I expected the larger version to taste similar to. So weird.

So, that was that. Basically, I DID find a pizza that tasted similar to the old school pizza I loved, and I also found a pizza that tasted similar to the OTHER school pizza I remembered. Neither of them satisfy my desire to locate the real thing though. Well, of the first one. Besides that, even if it WAS a suitable substitute, I don't have a reliable, steady source for it. As I said, they aren't even in the machine this week.

But, guess what I DID finally do? I gave up! Ha, not really. I mean I finally decided to call in the big guns. I contacted my old school district. If anyone can get to the bottom of this, that's MY best bet. Current status: the good people over at McAllen I.S.D. in South Texas are looking into it for me. They contacted the distributor to try and get the brand and number of our old boat pizza. The research is ongoing, but the news so far is that the distributors don't seem to have a record of the boat pizza anymore. Their files only go back to 1990, but I know we had the boat pizza when I was in high school, and that was during the 90's, so not sure what happened there. At any rate, that could mean I've hit a dead end! The M.I.S.D. folks are pushing a bit further for me, and my fingers are crossed that a bit of info might turn up. The discouraging part though, is that clearly M.I.S.D. no longer serves the french bread pizza they referred to as "fondly remembered". This means it might not even exist anymore, who knows...

In the meantime, for me it's Alamo Drafthouse Carnivore pizza and Pizza Hut Pepperoni Stuffed Crust (heavy on the parmesan in both cases) when I have cash to spare, and good old Totino's Party Pizza when I don't. Although, Pizza Hut totals have been adding up like crazy lately, despite their "deals" and even after I started picking it up myself, but their Hershey dessert is amazing! And I know Caesar's has the Hot and Ready for 5 bucks, and that's okay, but, I don't know, I still might find Totino's (maybe 1 and a half of them, still under 3 bucks) more satisfying over all. Oh, I believe I was going to give props to my fave dollar-something pizza here before and kept forgetting to. Well, no time like the present. Here's my go-to meal most days when all I have for dinner is a couple bucks:




Is that a foot in the bottom of that pic? My bad. Also, I'm not into wrestling. It was just my luck that was on the box the time I decided to take a pic. It does make this pizza look a little more white-trashy, ha. Oh well (and no offense if you do like wrestling, a lot of my friends did back in the day too, ha; I was small in the prime of Hulk Hogan, after all).

Yeah, Combination is my version of choice, though Pepperoni is good too. Remove the plastic before cooking, duh.





And it's better if you don't cook it QUITE this much, but close. These cook FAST, and it's easy to burn 'em up. Now, certainly, it's not as pizza like as most pizzas. It's just, well, it's GOOD. It's addictive, even, ha, and so cheap! And, I gotta say, I mean, frozen pizza is okay, but the prices can get crazy. I'd rather hold out for when I can afford the great stuff than get the distinctly "frozen pizza" tasting, more expensive frozen pizzas out there. But, I tell ya, for a buck and change, THIS pizza I do like. And I do murder it with parmesan, but it's good even without it. 

Incidentally, I recently tried a Papa Murphy's Take and Bake. Impressive looking when you get it out of the oven (it was pretty huge looking), and it was thoroughly loaded with toppings (though it was sorta stuffed with them; I don't remember how, this was a couple months back, but it was under the layer you see in the pic below, and maybe this was a meat-stuffed crust variety, I totally forget), but in all honesty, taste-wise, yeah, it was very similar to Digiorno's frozen pizza, which I found odd, since Papa Murphy's is a chain like Pizza Hut that just happens to not do the baking for ya. You literally take it home to bake it. It's an interesting concept. I don't see myself going there again though. Papa John's is a different matter though. Their pizza is pretty darn good. All in all though, I prefer Pizza Hut, and the Alamo Drafthouse over the Hut (though, one misses the stuffed crust, ha). 





Anyway, gang, I will let you know if the search for boat pizza goes anywhere further from this point. And, hopefully in the near future, I will finally get around to tasting some of the Austin-based pizza places I often hear people raving about. I've been putting that off for far too long!

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