When it comes to one or two servings of packaged frozen pizzas, you are probably familiar with a few select brands, depending on where you are from in the United States. There are several different companies who occupy the frozen food market and you may be like most that find a brand and stick to a brand. I personally, am the opposite. I like to experiment with different brands of frozen pizza, and even though I have yet to find one that truly meets my needs, there is definitely an obvious level of quality that comes and goes with particular company’s brands. So if you are one of those looking to venture out for a new frozen pizza brand but are nervous to stray from the norm without much knowledge about the “new” products, read on as I take three top frozen pizza brands and compare them alongside one another. From one person who appreciates quality pizza (and denounces the crap pizza), here is my opinion, some facts and hopefully, some passive advice. Think now about the brands you may have seen in your local grocery and/or in your local convenience store such as 7-11 or Store 24. We will examine the Ellios frozen pizza, Celeste frozen pizza, and Stouffers French Bread Pizza brands now.
-I first must say that before embarking on this journey to learn more about my local frozen pizza brands, I was under the impression that most of this junk, fast food was unanimously held in distaste. However, from reading testimonials and also from judging by the simple fact that the companies are still around I have realized the obvious fact that yes, people’s tastes do differ dramatically and not everyone can be expected to recognize purely excellent quality from horribly terrible quality like I do so easily and expertly. And so I write this analysis with as much objective thought as I can possibly muster without trying to taint my reader’s precious unique minds. With that… the frozen pizza brands…
Now. Surely, you’ve seen those pizza boxes in your convenience store freezer door that say Ellios Pizza in big bubbly, child-friendly letters of practical green, red, yellow and white. You know, they most commonly have for sale the plain cheese pizza or pepperoni pizzas in sizes of 9 slices, 27 slices, and a single slice cheese pizza? If that doesn’t jolt your memory maybe the words “cardboard”, “sugar sauce”, or “rectangular slices” will bring up some memories. (Okay, I’m throwing the objective idea out the window right now). Well these descriptions, which in my opinion are particular to Ellios brand frozen pizzas explain the type of pizza that many a person, well at least individuals in the Northeastern area of the United States can remember growing up on. Trademarked in many social circles by their cheapness in quality as well as quantity per price, Ellios frozen pizzas are a favorite among single moms, lower income families with children and college students.
I myself have never actually succumbed to purchasing Ellios on my own, but I’ve forced a couple slices down over time in various friends’ apartments and I can assure you that my three word description of the brand is not that far off. However, taking into account my startling realization from earlier- that wow, my taste really isn’t everyone’s it must be acknowledged that this type of pizza is a very good match for the audience to whom it’s maker, McCain Foods targets and that is young children. Aside from the colorful box, the pizza slices are conveniently crust-free, to spare the little ones of extra unneeded stress from having to wait for mom and dad to tear the crust off before they begin eating. Little kiddies tend to appreciate sweeter, (and yes, sugary tasting) sauce more than some adults also. Ellios frozen pizza prides itself on its trademark sweet sauce, topped with loose, not too stringy melted cheese flakes. In fact, according to McCain Foods, Ellios brand official website testimonials, the sauce is one of the major aspects of the pizza that entire families love about and crave it for.
I still maintain that the Ellios frozen pizza brand tastes like sugar coated cardboard and I have many a following in my belief system this way, but I will definitely admit that having fairly lower expectations due to lack of frozen pizza (or real pizza) experience, kids are probably very prone to like this brand. And to give credit where it is due, this is the exact and seemingly only audience that Ellios really expects to fall in love with the brand. So in that respect, Ellios is doing a great job making a unique type of frozen pizza and I can appreciate the success they’ve had with the youngsters. On one last note, the Ellios frozen pizza website is designed specifically for kids to have some fun on the computer, so if you know children who love their Ellios brand frozen pizza and need to keep them busy for awhile, pull up the website for them and find the fun sections like games and fun trivia facts about all things pizza. They’ll remember it for dozens of years to come, surely.
So you are wandering the aisles of your Store 24, 7-11 or local convenience shop and you decide to bypass Ellios frozen pizza because you happen to have a little extra money in your food budget this week, you have no children and well, let’s just say you are looking to move a step up in the frozen pizza world. This is where Celeste frozen Pizza takes the stage. Celeste frozen Pizza, a brand of Aurora Foods Inc, or Pinnacle Foods is a cheaper alternative to ordering in a freshly baked pie, but it has a richer, fuller taste to it so that it gives one a more quality impression of the product than what is otherwise implied from the price. This brand has apparently been available to consumers on the frozen food market for about 36 years, after first being used as a main entrée for an Italian Restaurant, owned by an Italian immigrant named, appropriately, Celeste Lizio.
Celeste frozen pizzas, known throughout the Northeast, California areas and parts of the Midwestern US regions, stay true to their goal, which is to provide “value in a traditional sense: a quality product at a reasonable price”. Everything about the branding of Celeste Pizzas looks traditional and pseudo-gourmet, which from what I can tell, is the objective. The solid, deep green trademark package color featuring clear photos of cheesy, piping hot pizza being sliced gives one the immediate feel of richness in body and taste but fairness in price. While the company’s other goal was to create a frozen pizza that tastes fresh out of an Italian oven, homemade, this would be the only place the brand falls short.
I say that because homemade foods tend to make one think of a heartwarming, stomach grumbling aroma sifting through the house the evening it is being cooked, and a taste that is so authentic to perhaps what one grew up eating from mom or dad’s cooking that it stirs up nostalgia and makes one feel cozy inside. Unfortunately, Celeste Pizza doesn’t really do this as they wish. In fact, it seems to me, from a taste standpoint that really the only thing about the pizza that makes it seem the slightest bit “Italian authentic” and “homemade” is the packaging and the advertising that states it is so. But in reality, their frozen pizza doesn’t really fit their claim. Take into consideration though that I am being a bit harsh, for Celeste is still number one in frozen pizza sales for their geographic location. I’m just stating that I think they could do even better by adhering more closely to their brand’s claims. While the product in itself is not consistently terrible (you could get worse or better, either way, at any given time, for a lower or higher price), Pinnacle Food Corporation sort of ruins your image of the brand by giving you too high of expectations.
Or at least that is if you are one to follow advertising and keep high hopes in its claims. So in that regard, I believe Celeste frozen pizza sells itself short. Unlike Ellios frozen pizza who actually low-balls their customer expectations by targeting a solely kid-based audience, so as to accentuate anything that adults unexpectedly enjoy. Celeste really should simply keep the traditional taste at reasonable prices claim and leave it at that. For that is really all there is to it. And if that is all people are expecting, hey, even better if you leave them happier than they imagined. And without even shelling out too much dough for the frozen pizza product to begin with. Now this would be ideal.
Finally, we now come to the third frozen pizza brand under analysis, which is Stouffers frozen pizza brand, known for their dual French bread slices of long thing bread, covered with 100% cheese (that tastes like real cheese) and made ready to purchase in those bright orange boxes, also, like Ellios frozen pizza and Celeste frozen Pizzas, in your local 7-11, Store 24 or other convenient store. While the retail grocery stores are available to carry several varieties of the orange boxed frozen Stouffers frozen pizza products, the convenience stores usually are only equipped with the cheese, pepperoni and deluxe flavored slices so this is all I have tried and thus, will be the extent of my analysis of the brand. It seems to me that Stouffers accomplishes in its frozen pizza products exactly what Celeste frozen Pizza desires to achieve: A feeling that one is consuming a homemade type of product that brings back childhood or other fond past memories.
While Celeste makes me feel slightly cold about what I’m eating, Ellios too, and with those brands I am just simply eating them to fill up quickly, Stouffers brand French bread pizzas are a frozen food I can say I really enjoy eating. I like to take my time with the two huge cheesy (stretchy-cheesy) slices and savor the bites. There is something about the thick French bread crust that stirs up this emotion, I believe. It seems to keep the pizza warm for a longer amount of time and so any traces of freezer burn or artificial ingredients are easily (yet I suppose this is somewhat disgustingly) absorbed or rather, masked by the heat. The cheese and/or pepperonis are always plentiful, depending on the style, and there is just the right amount of sausage pieces and pepperonis on the Deluxe sliced French breads to make it appropriately sweet and sour without too much of one taste or another. It is obvious that each pizza is designed with care.. And as Celeste frozen Pizza was founded by Celeste Lizio, Italian immigrant, Stouffers brand was invented by Mahala and Abraham Stouffer in 1922 when the loyal customers of the coffee shop they owned and operated began requesting take home meals.
This was in Cleveland, Ohio and now, Stouffers brand, which is also part of the NESTLE brand, offers products all over the United States. The Stouffers website, though not as outgoing or charming as the McCain Foods Ellios Site, still maintains a fine level of successful marketing tact. While Ellios frozen Pizza website focuses on games and fun trivia facts written in colorful letters for the kids to enjoy, Stouffers caters obviously to a more sophisticated adult audience with delicate lettering style (font), rich, royal color schemes and little extras like recipes, menu ideas, articles on nutrition and an opportunity to help pave the way for future Stouffers products by joining the Stouffers Table product panel to take consumer oriented surveys.
There really is only one thing about the Stouffers frozen French Bread Pizza brand that does not meet my expectations and unfortunately, it is a major problem. And it is also a problem that Ellios frozen pizza and Celeste frozen pizza are very far from having. The issue is this: The last five to six times, no joke, that I have made a Stouffers French Bread Pizza, I went through all the motions of setting my oven and watching the timer for forty-five minutes and everything always appears to be good. Only the very second I go to reach for the piece of bread, I find that it has become stuck to the pan or the shelf where it rests and due to the extreme burning sensation that is induced upon my little hands at trying to pull the thing out of there, I usually lose my grip, the bread pops upright for me to try and grab at mid-air and what do you know, cheese and sauce fly, no, actually they topple in a big clunk, right on over and onto the oven floor. Leaving me pissed off, out of pizza and still starving. As this seems to be the trend as of late when I attempt to cook the Stouffers French bread pizzas, I am seriously considering switching the not as tasty but more reliable Celeste, as described here.
Frozen pizza manufacturers, just like any genre of food producers have to carve their niche in the fast food convenience store market. Even though Ellios Frozen Pizza, Celeste Frozen Pizza and Stouffers French Bread Pizza are all lacking in some important aspects of quality, one thing can be said about all three brands and that is the fact that they all are fairly unique from each other. And I suppose that when it comes to designing any type of food product under any brand, that is the key ingredient to success. Because is it not true that even if a bunch of people think one brand is hideously disgusting, there will always be people at the other end of the spectrum who love it?