The Best of the Worst in Pizza Dipping Sauces, Including a Sauce Cocktail

Categories: Chewing the Fat

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Catherine Downes
Recently a few of us at the Observer gathered with the task of testing pizza-dipping sauces from five major chains. As we often do around here, we like to embrace food shame and, if the stars align, maybe discover a hidden gastronomic gem.

Not everyone was up for this particular test though. Some ducked out of the room mumbling something about "deadlines." Perhaps a sensitive gag reflex was to blame, which is fine because once someone starts making that noise, it all goes downhill quickly.

The hypothesis was, well, we didn't think it out that far. The method, however, was simply to taste a small bit of each sauce (with crackers or pizza) with the goal to simply determine the best (or least worst).

There was one caveat to the test, which I'm still a bit conflicted about: Because of its overwhelming prominence in the condiment industry, ranch flavor was excluded. Repeat, no ranch dressing in this drill.

The test subjects were Pizza Hut, Papa John's, Little Caesars, Domino's and Pizza Patrón. A wide swath of dipping sauces were collected from each, consisting of members of the garlic, blue cheese, honey mustard and barbecue families. The rogue variants were the Ranchero from Pizza Patrón and Cheezy Jalapeño from Little Caesar's.

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I learned a lesson about testing pungent products that don't have an expiration date on account of their chemical concentration: pace yourself. Open one or two at a time, then taste and discard before you open others. Otherwise everything starts to blend together.

The front-runner for the most hideous dip was clear the instant the noxious fumes overtook our, until then, delicate olfactory senses. (Insert first gag reflex here.)

Dear Little Caesar's Cheezy Jalapeño, you need to think long and hard about your mission in life and what good you want to bring to this planet. Because we're collectively missing it. Your florescent orange color mixed with your pudding like texture and astringent smell was reminiscent of a Homer Simpson disaster at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant.

From a culinary standpoint, a test participant said, "It taste like a mall bathroom. This sauce has given up. It's the sweat pants of sauces."

Buttery Garlic, good sir, you're not far behind in the Little Caesar's family of shame. "It tastes like half garlic, half petroleum," said another tester in the group.

The three sauces that offered the least amount of pain were Papa John's Special Garlic, Pizza Hut's Blue Cheese and the Ranchero from Pizza Patrón, the latter being, "understated and subtle." (Yes, someone said that.)

What happened at the end of this tasting event is hard to explain. I can only attribute it to the abrasive cocktail of chemicals in the air that must have caused synapses in our brains to start misfiring. We wondered what would happen if we mixed our three favorites together. Like a suicide at the drink fountain, except this could actually kill someone.

So we mixed together Papa John's Special Garlic, Pizza Hut's Blue Cheese and the Ranchero from Pizza Patrón, stirred, then dipped.

And, yes, a few of us actually tried it. Jesse Hughey was one of those brave souls, "Garlic is dominant, followed by oil, then ranchero."

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The suicide of dipping sauces.

When it came time to clean, personally my gag reflex kicked into overdrive. I apologize to anyone who had any sort of business to conduct in that conference room for the next week because the smell was horrid. I tried really hard to wash it all down the sink, but the thick film that formed in the sink basin was impenetrable. Eventually I was beckoned to abort the mission and just leave. Again, I'm sorry.

So, in the end, which was the standout winner? Ranch. Hands down.



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25 comments
quadec2010
quadec2010

I worked at a Little Caesars in high school. Tried the buttery garlic one day and fell in love. Can't have a pizza from anywhere else and can't have a pizza without buttery garlic now. I can't personally see how someone could not like it.

todd
todd

Ranch is to pizza as pantyhose is to foreplay.

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

This is the New America, the bold frontier, where dipping sauces are king!  I don't think I've ordered anything from a a pizza place, and then required dip.  First off, breadsticks are for lard asses, and those sauces are prepackaged crap.  If I need sauce, I whip out some salsa or jalapeno mustard. Good pizza, like good Q, needs no extra sauce.  

mbodayle
mbodayle

How awful to even thinking about ruining a good slice of pizza this way.

www.thepizzasnob.net

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

OH MY GOD!  What depraved abomination is this?  Now they're dipping pizza into some horrible mess.  Isn't it enough that the profligates have turned the pizza into a dumping ground for greasy nitrated meats and tons of cheese?  Woe.....

J_A_
J_A_

PJ's garlic oil thing is definitely the winner in my book. Probably because I've never tried any of these other dipping sauces and I have no intention of doing so.

EastDallasDad
EastDallasDad

The Papa John's Garlic is not completely horrible (just don't look at the nutritional information) but the person dipping the pizza into the suicide sauce in the photo is doing it wrong. Dipping sauce is for the crust. Pizza already has sauce. Dipping that end of the pizza results in sauce redundancy or rather "the pizza sauce interferes with and masks the subtle nuances and flavors of the dipping sauce" if you want to give your review of junk food a veneer of elitist snobbery.

foodbiatch
foodbiatch

Disagree. The winner was honey mustard. That "ranch" tasted like horse pee.

KayurPatel
KayurPatel

@thecheapbastard @cityofate but at least they're made from all natural organic ingredients.

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

 @todd 

 

except, when, to quote a saged philosopher, "she BIG!"-and the p.hose are so tight, that it's turning the skin a bruised blue?!  and then comes the sweat , as yer tryin' to pull that massive see through tent off of her....and she's groaning, and you just 'throw down" the ranch, and run out the back door

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

 @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz My god, you're uppity. Go to one of our excellent local pizzamakers, get a pie, enjoy it, and live a little. Perhaps with an extra tip the waiter will be happy to remove that stick from your ass.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz we get it you dont like meat. May I suggest you stay away from here when #meatfight comes around. also shove a cucumber up your ass gooddaytoya

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Dear God!  Will they next be putting ketchup and mustard on pizza... [Mrs. Katz swoons from the thought]

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

 @EastDallasDad "a veneer of elitist snobbery" is status quo here. At least there was no whining about calories or far-flung suburbs.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

 @Scruffygeist Another one here with a nasty attitude.  It's not uppity to want to enjoy a delicious, healthy, satisfying pizza the way pizza was meant to be...in the way Neapolitans do with their divinely crafted pies.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

 @ScottsMerkin Tut!  I never said I was a vegan.  I just believe that meat has its place in flavoring a dish; I don't believe in shoving several pounds of animal flesh into one's gullet at one sitting.  Furthermore, may I express an opinion freely, without being pummeled by insults and invective?  Be civil.

dixiechickidie
dixiechickidie

That's actually how they eat pizza in Trinidad and Tobago. Very strange.

fooddick
fooddick

 @foodbiatch 

 

 

who's foodbitch again?  alice l.? is Dylan the MMA Doucher really a tollway troll that lives in his momma's basement?

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

 @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz Then I suggest you board the next plane for Naples. It's not uppity to want that, but you may want to take a long look at the presentation of your opinions, because they're arrogant. And Scruffy knows arrogant.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz you may express your opinion freely, but this is the observer and we are anonymous commenters so if you dont want to be pummeled by insults and invective go comment on side dish. May your cheek find the wrong side of a cheese grater...toodles

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@fooddick @foodbiatch I thought it was Coulton oh hell, Im so confused, maybe its the 3 day bender I wish I had went on

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