The Truth About Papa John's Pizza Recipe

Papa John's pizza motto is "Better Ingredients, Better Pizza." Former CEO and company founder, John Schnatter, has an issue with those ingredients, and according to him, they aren't resulting in a "better pizza." Schnatter told a Kentucky news station, "It's not the same product. It just doesn't taste as good."  

Schnatter lost his pizza throne in 2017 after he was pressured to step down from the company following racially insensitive remarks. Following the incident, Papa John's found itself severely struggling in the competitive pizza market. 

The former Papa John's CEO should know the pizza recipe better than anyone, so why does he think that it's changed?

John Schnatter has eaten a lot of pizza lately

So how exactly does Schnatter know that Papa John's pizza just isn't as good anymore? "I've had over 40 pizzas in the last 30 days, and it's not the same pizza," he said. 

Schnatter didn't go into what sort of process he used to analyze those 40 pizzas, so all we can do is assume he was eating pizza like a ravenous fiend and perhaps scribbling notes like, "Too much garlic... not chewy enough... needs more papa magic." Whatever the case, the former pizza king said that the way the current company is making its pizza is "not fundamental to what makes a Papa John's pizza."

According to Schnatter, Papa John's is now destroying itself from the inside (via People). Yeesh. Who knew that pizza could cause so much drama?

So what is the Papa John's pizza recipe?

The pizza at Papa John's helped make John Schnatter a millionaire many times over, and one of the distinct characteristics about the pizza is its slightly sweet flavor. A former Papa John's manager noted on Reddit that in addition to the chain using fresh vegetables, the sauce has a sweet flavor because it's "full of sugar."

According to Papa John's website, sunflower oil, salt, garlic, spices, olive oil, citric acid, and yes sugar are all part of what makes the sauce. The cheese is a part-skim mozzarella cheese blend made with modified food starch, a whey protein concentrate, sodium citrate, and yes, more sugar in the form of sugarcane fiber. The pizza dough uses unbleached enriched wheat flour, water, salt, yeast, soybean oil and... sugar.

None of those ingredients are too out of the ordinary for pizza — however, there's a good chance that if there has been a change to the recipe, it has to do with those spices in the sauce. Papa John's only lists "spices" in its ingredients list, so only Papa John's insiders with all-access clearance would be privy to that information. 

Papa John's new CEO denies the recipe change

According to John Schnatter, everything from his removal from the company to the supposed new recipe is a big sham and a "day of reckoning will come." In the meantime, Papa John's current CEO, Rob Lynch, feels that while Schnatter is entitled to his opinion, that opinion doesn't carry any truth. 

"No, actually, nothing has changed," Lynch told CNN when asked about Schnatter's comments. The pizza CEO went on to say things with the business couldn't be better. "I've never been a part of a system that takes more pride in what goes into the food that we're making and how we're making it. We feel great about the food that we're putting out there. We haven't made any changes to the way we make it or to what goes into our products."

Besides the pizza, Schnatter also feels that his replacement lacks pizza experience and "doesn't really know quality" — at least not the kind of experience that a guy who eats 40 pizzas in 30 days would have. 

The public's opinion seems to be divided on the topic

As we mentioned, Papa John's has been struggling for some time now, and only recently did the company see its first sales gain in over two years (via Pizza Market Place). Whether or not this has anything to do with the taste of the pizza, only Papa John's knows for sure. Opinions on social media, though, seem to be divided.

"As the eater of a single Papa John's pizza in the last year I can assure you that the pizza still tastes exactly like it used to," confessed one personOthers, however, thought that Schnatter was right in his assessment. "Papa John's pizza taste like crap ever since they wrongfully kicked Papa John out," said one person on Twitter. 

While there may be more utterly ridiculous conspiracy theories out there, John Schnatter has certainly given pizza-eaters some food for thought.