Papa John's Is Testing Out A New Hemp Appetizer — But Not In The U.S.

It takes a lot to stand out in the world of big pizza. Little Caesar's has their Hot-N-Ready deals, Pizza Hut boasts their famous pan pizza and breadsticks, Domino's had their "30 minutes or it's free" pizza delivery promise before that ended in a lawsuit involving speed-demon delivery drivers (via Ranker). Papa John's promises "better ingredients, better pizza," and it seems that promise involves using a rather surprising ingredient in their newest Europe-exclusive appetizer: hemp seed breadsticks.

According to ChewBoom, Papa John's is rolling out "Hemp Sticks" in locations across the United Kingdom and Russia. The Russian variant of these new breadsticks includes the chain's special garlic sauce and topped with the signature hemp seeds, while the U.K. variant includes a garlic butter sauce and a sprinkle of mozzarella, alongside the hemp seed topping. Although these may sounds just like normal breadsticks with an extra topping, just what are hemp seeds anyway, and why include them on breadsticks of all things?

Hemp seeds are a superfood

While you may associate hemp seeds with the more common understanding of hemp (i.e. associating it with marijuana), the truth is that they aren't as "trippy" as you may expect them to be. While they are harvested from the Cannabis plant, they do not contain, or at least contain incredibly trace amounts of, THC — the chemical that gives marijuana its unique effects. In fact, hemp seeds are believed to be a superfood.

Hemp seeds are believed to be high in protein, containing up to 25% protein as well as being a great source of essential fatty acids (via SpringerLink). Hemp seeds are also supposedly useful in helping digestion, containing fibers that help aid in digestion and lower cholesterol levels (via PubMed).

The use of cannabis, or in this case cannabis-based products, is not uncommon for restaurants nowadays. The Lowell Cafe, now known as the Cannabis Cafe, in Los Angeles is America's first licensed "cannabis-consumption restaurant," where dishes and consumables are preparing user cannabis-based ingredients (via LA Eater). Papa John's, while unique in the pizza businesses to offer hemp-based products, isn't the first to offer such a product in the fast food world. Carl's Jr, in 2019, sold a CBD-laced burger in a single Denver-based location for a single day for April 20th, better known as 4/20 (via Business Insider).