By Mike Thayer
Without question, pizza rolls, along with nachos, are in my top 5 list of favorite snacks. Pizza rolls are that perfect little bite of pepperoni pizza, they're convenient, they're budget friendly.... tasty, tasty, tasty...... And who doesn't like pizza rolls? Break out a bag from the freezer, pop them in the oven, please yourself, make it a snack for two, or please the party crowd.....
I always have a bag or two of pizza rolls in the freezer, be the bag for me or an impromptu party snack. But who makes the best pizza roll? Is it the name brand, or are the store/discount brands just as good?
For this pizza roll battle, I purchased the predominant player in pizza rolls, Totino's; a store brand version, in this case Kroger; and a discount brand called Mama Cozzi's, a.k.a., Aldi. How 'bout that for a marketing name huh? Mama Cozzi's....? Sort of cozy like, comfort + Italian sounding.... Somebody was thinking..... But I digress....
I compared price, weight, the look, roll size and taste.
Pizza Roll #1, the name brand - Totino's:
Totino's has been in the pizza roll business since 1951, then known as Jeno's Pizza rolls, which got bought out by Pillsbury in 1985 and was rebranded as Totino's. Back in the day, I remember Mom letting us have an occasional snack/dinner night featuring Jeno's pizza rolls and other delights. Pizza rolls really haven't changed much over the years - if it ain't broke, don't fix it, right? - and Totino's remains the King of the Pizza Roll hill.
Price: $2.99 for a 19.8 ounce bag
Breaking that price down it comes out to 15.1 cents per ounce. Why 19.8 ounces and not 20 ounces like the other brands? Only Totino's can answer that. Maybe Totino's is the more accurate number, who knows, it's just an odd weight.... For the look, roll size and taste factors, I'll summarize all three pizza roll brands in a bit.
Pizza Roll #2, store brand - Kroger:
Price: $2.79 for a 20 ounce bag
Surprisingly, the store brand isn't all that much cheaper. Sure, it's a bigger bag, but only by two ounces - so what. The cost breaks down to 13.9 cents per ounce. Looks like this challenge will come down to the taste!
Pizza Roll #3, discount brand - Mama Cozzi's, a.k.a., Aldi:
Price: $2.39 for a 20 ounce bag
At $2.39 for a 20 ounce bag, that breaks down to 11.95 cents per ounce, that's the cheapest of the lot. It's not a significant savings, we're talking pizza rolls after all, a cheap snack food no matter how you shake it out. Taste will dictate this story.
OK, so we've talked price and weight, now it's time for the look, roll size and most importantly, the taste.
I put six (serving size suggestion) of each brand of pizza rolls on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven at 425 degrees. The serving size and baking directions for each brand was essentially the same. In a side by side, by side comparison, the Totino's is the smallest of the rolls. In a review of the product ingredients, Totino's had the longest list, to include a lot of stuff that's tough to pronounce.... That's not a good thing, but then again we're talking about processed food which is supposedly bad for you and so if you're eating it to begin with, you don't really care about the list of ingredients, let alone those you can't pronounce.... I don't know about you, but I couldn't give a rat's rear end about the food police.....
All the rolls baked up about the same, you know pizza rolls are done when they brown up and the stuffing starts to ooze out the sides..... And the labeling aside, no pizza roll looked any different or any more delicious than any other.
As far as taste, the only notable difference was the Mama Cozzi's, which were a bit more oily tasting than the other two. All rolls had crunch and that classic tomato sauce/pepperoni-ish and cheese flavor that people love in a pizza roll. And is it just me, or shouldn't pizza rolls come in a bigger size, like the size of a traditional egg roll? That's were the idea for a pizza roll came from after all..... For my money, I'm buying the store brand, in this case, Kroger. It's only a 20 cent savings per bag, but that starts to add up after awhile, buying/saving this and that...
Spend Wisely My Friends.....