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Posts Tagged ‘Schwans’

Red Baron Deep Dish Singles Review

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Red Baron Deep Dish Singles ReviewI like to check in with the mainstream frozen pizza choices once a year or so.  See if they’ve improved, changed at all.

For the most part, I don’t care for any of them, with the exception of hyperlocal brands like Vito and Nicks in Chicago (absolute #1 favorite), and for the pies at Trader Joes that are made in Italy and France and actually taste like they came from a pizzeria.

Why can’t US manufacturers do that?

So I saw Red Baron Deep Dish Singles the other day at a dollar store.  For a dollar. Thought I’d give one a whirl. Red Baron is a brand of Minnesota’s Schwan Food Enterprises and was introduced in 1975. It’s made in a plant in Marshall, MN (pictured below).

I am dubious about almost any food that says it can be cooked in EITHER a microwave or conventional oven, and 99.9 % of the time I’d opt for the oven.  But since they market these as microwaveable, thoughtt I’d give that a shot.

Spoiler alert:  it was horrid. In appearance, taste, and texture.  I suppose they’re acceptable for kids for a quick after school snack (except for the nutritional value part), and especially for a buck.  But if I was looking for a quick snack for a buck at the dollar store, I’d rather have White Castle burgers, which actually DO microwave well and are done in one minute.

That’s all  I learned that Red Baron frozen pizzas are every bit as awful as the last 5-10x I tried them. I see no need to try again.  (Right now, I’m eating a Screamin’ Sicilian All Meat Pie, and they aren’t so bad).  One of a half dozen brands from Palermo, in Milwaukee.

Red Baron Deep Dish Singles Review

Out of the box

Red Baron Deep Dish Singles Review

Colonel Kurtz: “The horror, the horror.”

Red Baron Deep Dish Singles Review

Marshall, MN Factory

 

 

 

 

 

Red Baron Deep Dish Singles Review

Red Baron Deep Dish Singles Review

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Home Cookin’ – Red Baron Pizza w/ Cheese Sticks

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Red Baron Pizza and SidesI have home tested quite a few frozen pizzas, including other offerings by Red Baron.  Tonight’s choice, due to a sale price of 2 / $7, was Red Baron’s Classic Pepperoni packaged with a side of  Mozzarella Cheese Sticks.

The image I found on line (left) for the package states “12 Cheese Sticks”, but my package included the disclaimer “11-13” cheese sticks.   I received 12 in my box, I guess packing limitations prevent the precise number being included in each pack.

The pizza and cheese sticks are wrapped separately of course, and have different baking instructions.  The pizza called for 400 degrees, and about 18 minutes; the instructions said to put the cheese sticks in the same oven when there was 11 minutes left on the timer (providing you were eating/serving both at the same time).

I looked deep inside the box to see if there was a packet of dipping sauce; most cheese sticks at fast casual restaurants come with a side of marinara, and I see no reason why for a couple pennies more Red Baron didn’t include same, but they choose not to.  I whipped up a quick marinara from some of our canned garden tomatoes, easily done while waiting for the pie and sticks to bake.

I’ve been lukewarm on Red Baron in the past, but the product seems to continually improve.  I liked the crust on this one, slightly crispy, and the toppings were ample.  At the sale price, it’s a ‘bargain’ in the world of frozen pizza.

My largest “complaint” about the cheese sticks, and it’s not directed at Red Baron specifically, but any company that tries to emulate frying food in the oven, is the cheese sticks aren’t adequately crispy.  That is, not reminiscent of the finish food gets when its fried.  This ‘complaint’ includes most every pseudo fried product I have tried, from fish filets to ravioli.   It’s a technique food science simply hasn’t figured out yet.

Mrs. Burgerdogboy, the beneficiary of the bulk of the cheese sticks, enjoyed them.  She liked the texture (stringiness) of the hot cheese.  And of course, my house-made marinara added to the experience!

Red Baron’s “Pizza and Sides” line is also available with “Wingz”, boneless fried chicken bits, I will get around to trying those in the future.

Do I recommend this product?  Yes, it’s as good as any in the ‘value-priced’ segment of frozen pizza, and the addition of the ‘side’ makes it pleasing for an after school or family snack.

Red Baron Pizza and Sides Review

Red Baron Classic Pepperoni Pizza Review

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Home Cookin’ Test – Red Baron Fire Baked Crust

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One I have tried before, just a quick update      because they were on sale for about $2, and     Mrs. BDB and her friends were enjoying yet     another vegan dinner at our house….and I was   going through carnivore withdrawal (that’s  what SHE said).

My impression last time was largely favorable, and either my taste buds are changing (probably constantly) or the recipe has been varied a little bit.  This time around, I found the sauce a little too “sweet” for my liking.  Didn’t put me off eating the entire 160 carb pie of course (more insulin, please), but OK, I don’t have the capacity that I used to, and the 18.76 ounces of Italian-Style Meat Trio pie took three different consumption periods (note that we no longer call them “meals” at our house) to polish off.

In old economy speak, those “consumption periods” would have been called “dinner”, “4th meal”, and “breakfast.”   So it’s really not a feat worth bragging about, not compared to my college days when I could polish off two 14″ pies from Basil’s Pizza (nee “Bill’s Pizza”) , in Northfield, MN, all be my lonesome (with a pitcher of beer chaser).

I also took exception to the ‘oiliness’ this time, a close-up pic (below) shows a puddle of ‘grease’ – which with a delivered pizza would have decorated the take-out box and been lessened, a bit, I suspect.

Overall?  A fantastic value at the price, and they are frequently on sale.

Red Baron Fire Baked Frozen Pizza

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Home Cookin’ Test – Red Baron Fire Baked Pizza

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Red Baron Fire Baked Pizza

Red Baron Fire Baked Pizza

From deep in the frozen pizza capital of the U.S., Marshall, Minnesota (????), comes this new offering from the Red Baron Brand, part of the Schwan’s Food Company. The  “Fire-Baked Original Crust Italian Style Meat Trio” is one of a plethroa of new types of pies the frozen pizza industry has introduced of late.

Red Baron posts their new offering is “the authentic pizzeria style taste that comes from cooking the crust in a fiery 800°F oven – tender on the inside, and crispy on the bottom. Topped with all the finest vegetables, meats and 100% real cheeses.” 

 

Red Baron Fire Baked Pizza

Red Baron Fire Baked Pizza

 The 22 oz meat monster is topped with ham, sausage and pepperoni, though “contents may settle during shipping”, and you will note in this pic, that you will have to do a little remodeling between removing the pizza from the box and placing it in the oven.

The product calls for fairly standard baking instructions, and the box provides you with directions to obtain a crispy crust, or a softer one, depending on whether you place the pizza directly on an oven shelf, or on a cookie sheet.  I often wish manufacturers would also provide a set of instructions for cooking on a stone, but realize I am in a  clear minority of people who employ that method at home.

Five minute prior to the end of the baking cycle, the pie looks as depicted below.  Although not suggested by Schwan’s, I usually finish off my frozen pies under the broiler for a moment or two.  I  like the effect that ‘heat blast’ has on the cheese.
 
Overall, I liked this offering.  The sauce is mildly-spiced, the meats have fairly good flavor, the pepperoni doesn’t cup or char.  The ham and sausage pieces could be bigger.  Red Baron comes in a mid-price range for frozen pizzas, around $4 or $5, but often on sale.
Schwan’s “Tony’s” brand seems to be their low price offering, with their Freschetta lable hitting the higher end of the spectrum (but still not as much as California Pizza Kitchen or Wolfgang Puck.
My conclusion is that this pie is as good as any in its segment, and the ‘fire-baked’ treatment does make for a more pleasurable crust experience.

The frozen pizza industry is busy trying to lure consumers with new choices, or at least new descriptors – ‘artisan’, ‘pizzeria-style’, ‘home-style vegetables’ and so on.  A number of brands have even started selling frozen slices.

I previously took a look at other Schwan’s offerings from their frozen pizza line, Tony’s “Garlic Cheese Bread,” and their “Crispy Crust Party Time Pizza. ”

Red Baron Fire-Baked Pizza

Red Baron Fire-Baked Pizza

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Tonys Pizza Review – Garlic Cheese “Bread”

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Tonys Pizza Review

Tony’s Pizza Logo

Schwans, a Minnesota company primarily in the direct to consumer (home delivery) food business, acquired the Tony’s Brand in 1970, and started selling the pizzas direct to consumers, and eventually, to grocery stores.  

Tony’s is part of a much larger portfolio at Schwans now, which also includes the Fruschetta and Red Baron pizza brands.

Schwans has 6,700 trucks in the US, delivering fresh and frozen food items to homes all over America.  One might be surprised that in this day and age, this business had not only survived, but thrived.  Worldwide, Schwans has over 18,000 employees!

Tony’s sells a variety of what I would call “value-priced” frozen pizza products, including their original crust, thin & crispy crust, individual pizzas, snack rolls, and individual microwavable snack pizzas.

I’m not sure which national pizza chain started the idea of using a crust, putting cheese and sauce on it,  cutting it on a different bias, and calling it “pizza bread” or some variation, but for some reason I am thinking it was Little Caesars.  

But it has become common place at the national pizza chains, and has started to make it’s way into the frozen pizza sections of grocery stores.   One might find “garlic cheese bread” as a selection, as I did with Tony’s; other brands sell a combination pack of frozen pizza and “breadsticks” such as one might order at a chain pizzeria. DiGiorno, a frozen pizza grand created by food giant Kraft, sells the combo product.  

DiGiorno was sold to Swiss food giant Nestle earlier this year.  It joined other iconic frozen food brands in the Nestle portfolio, like Maggi, Lean Cuisine, Hot Pockets, and Stouffer’s.

Tony’s Garlic Cheese Bread is part of Tony’s “original crust” pizza line, although the product does not have the word “pizza”on its box.  Instructions call for baking the ‘pie’ at 425 for 9-11 minutes, or until the cheese melts and the crust is browned.

The taste is more than adequate for this type of value-priced product.   If you slice it in long pieces, it’s cheese bread; triangles or squares, and topped with your leftovers, it’s a pizza.   With the current promotion of a coupon on every box for one free game of bowling, basically you are getting the pizza for free (if you bowl).

If you’re looking for Tony’s products, you can find them in nearly every frozen food section of groceries across the US, or use the handy “Where to Buy” locator on their website.  If you are interested in having Schwan’s food service deliver top-notch groceries and treats directly to your door, you can contact your local delivery point via the box in the upper left hand corner of their home page.

And if being a Schwans delivery person seems like a good career move for you, start the application process here.

 

Tonys Pizza Review


Tonys Pizza Review

Tonys Pizza Review

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Home Test – Tony’s “Party Time” Crispy Crust Pizza

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Went bottom fishing in the frozen pizza section of my grocery store yesterday, and reeled in some Tony’s “New” Crisp Crust Pizzas. Tony’s is one of the brands (along with Freschetta and Red Baron) manufactured by the Schwan’s Food Company of Minnesota. Schwans started the same year I was born, delivering ice cream directly to rural homes. They’ve come along way since then, but you can still get ice cream (and other goodies) delivered by your local Schwan’s guy, click here for the selections.

While clearly Tony’s is trying to capture some portion of the emerging “thin & crispy” category, in appearance, and cost (usually less than a buck), these remind me of the Totino’s low end pies, which originally were “Jeno’s” (a company started in my home town, and also originator of the pizza roll). Jeno Paulucci had two food companies that he grew from scratch, Chun King “Chinese” foods, and the Jeno’s brand of “Italian” foods. They were sold to RJ Reynolds and Pillsbury, respectively, for boatloads of cash, and Jeno, who just celebrated his 130th birthday, is still at the biz, cranking out Michelina’s Frozen meals, as well as some other brands.

Anyway, these Tony’s were .98 cents each, so I picked a couple up. Although they sell a supreme and cheese model, the pepperonis were the ones at the featured price. I did not note the price of the other varieties.

The first thing one notices when removing from the box is that the engineers at Tony’s have come up with a new pizza shape and word to go with it: “Scround.” A square pie with rounded corners. I cannot even begin to comprehend why they did this. It’s nearly the shape of the Domino’s delivery box, but I do understand why they did that (probably boosted profits 1/10th of a penny per delivery).

The instructions are 12 minutes at 400, one thing I’ll say about these cheap little pies, is you can use the toaster oven, which is kind of handy. It may well be my tip of the hat to saving the planet and using less energy.

As regular readers know, I follow the precise instructions for cooking frozen and RTE meals, to see how they come out when following the instructions. I know, such a non-male thing to do.

The “Party Time” weighs in at 10.10 ounces, and the cover announces the (diced) pepperoni is made from pork, chicken, and beef. Other ingredients include a “topping blend” (defined as “mozzarella cheese substitute combined with a litany of other ingredients), but later in the list actually mozzarella appears, as does “isolated carrot product” (WTF?), onion, garlic, paprika, blah blah, and a whole lot of things that end in “ides” and “ates” and “ines.”

740 calories for the whole pie, 88 carbs (how many points is that?), a boatload of sodium, and negligible fiber.

As to taste. Well.  You get what you pay for.  After the recommended cooking time, the pizza was nowhere near my definition of “crisp”.  An additional 3-4 minutes produced no changes in the texture, as well. The bits of pepperoni (is diced really that much cheaper than sliced?) had a flavor reminiscent of pepperoni, but a texture more akin to boiled ham.   There was a sweet quality to the pizza that I didn’t care for, I assume it was from sugar in the tomato sauce.   And the “topping blend?”   Just that. No discernible actual cheese flavor, and as you can see from the photo, melt quality left something to be desired as well.

Would I purchase these again?  Are these pizzas the home version of drunk food, like when you hit White Castle after the bars?  Maybe for some folks, but not for me.  I have no idea what I will do with the remaining inventory in my freezer.


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