If the frozen pizza industry has “class” or “segment” descriptions (like ‘value line’, ‘premium line’, ‘gourmet’), I’m not aware of it. Of course there are all manners of self-descriptive phrases used for marketing, whether it’s “pizzeria style” or “rising crust”. “Classic” has come to mean, by and large, I believe, the look, shape, feel, and taste of a company’s original product line (i.e., “Classic Coke”, which of course, is now “regular” Coke, but not labeled as such, as “New Coke” vanished shortly after its introduction.
Today we are talking about “Classic” frozen pizza from Palermo’s, a Milwaukee-based manufacturer which was spawned out of an eatery and bakery started by Italian immigrants Gaspare “Jack” and Zina Fallucca in 1964. They sold the restaurant in 1979 to focus their business acumen on the frozen pizza business, and now sell millions of frozen pies from a 250,000 sf manufacturing facility in Milwaukee.
According to a Milwaukee Journal article, the company cranks out frozen pies utilizing over 300 recipes, and generating revenue in excess of $150 million annually. In addition to product under its own brand name, the majority of those recipes are utilized by Palermo to make private label pizzas; that is, pies manufactured, branded, and sold by grocery companies. Other articles seem to indicate Palermo invented the self-rising crust style of frozen pizza.
If the designations I started talking about in the beginning of the article existed, Palermo’s “Classics” would fall into the ‘value’ segment, or the very low end of the price scale. Competitors, in my opinion, would be brands like Totino’s, Jeno’s, and generics of the same ilk. Frozen pizzas the you can get for less than $2 each make up this category.
The Palermo’s in this tasting round were on sale at six for $10, averaged 12.5 ounces, resulting in a per ounce price of around 12 cents. That’s very inexpensive. The pies in this line come in a variety of configurations, plain cheese, pepperoni, sausage, combination, deluxe, sausage/mushroom, supreme, and bacon cheeseburger.
The latter style, I’ve never partaken of in any form or fashion, so that’s the first one I opened. Instructions call for 9-11 minutes at 450, and I found that time range to be more than adequate, for these pies are sporting a very thin crust.
The ingredient list is fairly straight forward, and one finds the usual ingredients (and their additives) listed on the package, with one curious note: one ingredient is dried potatoes, which clocks in after the ‘cooked beef hamburger topping’ and before the corn and soy proteins on the list. Another curiosity? “Grill Flavor”, which is listed before the bacon topping in the ingredient order, so that must mean that the bacon is merely a whisper of an ingredient.
Last on the list is “may contain smoke flavoring” as a component of the bacon topping, and to me, that’s no surprise, as to my palate, the smoke flavor was the most prominent feature of the Bacon Cheeseburger pizza.
Of course, at this price point, the amount of toppings and cheese are scant. Would I buy them again? At this price, probably, but I’d be more inclined to use them as a “base” and load them up with my own toppings and cheese.
And although they can’t be microwaved, they would provide an expensive, quick hot snack for your kids, providing you also served them healthier options from time to time.