Frozen pizza… exists? That’s probably the fairest way to describe it. No one’s excited about frozen pizza per se, but in the midst of a drunk, hungry rampage, it can be a relief to find it squatting in the back of your freezer in all its cellophane-wrapped sadness.
It should also be noted, of course, that frozen pizza is arguably one of the worst possible things you can put into your body, as I learned during my analysis of the many ingredients in DiGiorno:
“I’m not even sure where to begin, since this pizza is easily one of the most unhealthy products I’ve come across during my time writing this column. The dough is made with enriched wheat flour, which is highly caloric and capable of destroying your pancreas. The meat toppings are made up of jumbled animal parts, then injected with dangerous preservatives and flavor enhancers. On top of all that, the entire pizza is riddled with vegetable oils, which will quickly fuck you up.
“It’s not delivery: It’s Dis-Gustingly unhealthy.”
But hey, drunk guys gotta eat. That’s why I asked Dana Hunnes, senior dietitian at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, to help me rank popular frozen pizzas by how unhealthy they are — from pretty damn unhealthy to “my-body-is-now-failing-me” unhealthy. That way, you can make the best of a bad choice.
First, though, here’s an explanation for our ranking: “The vast majority of these pizzas are riffs off of the same theme: They’re essentially white flour, starch, a smidgen of tomato sauce and — in nine of the 10 — a cow’s milk cheese product (some of the products are perhaps more authentically cheese than others),” Hunnes says. “The main things that set them apart are their portion size, their fiber content (if any) and their sodium content.” Hunnes also emphasizes that cheese made from cow milk contains casein, which is an animal protein that may promote the growth of tumors.
With that, let’s rank some pizzas…
1) Simple Truth Organic 3 Cheese Pizza: “As much as I wanted the vegan pizza to be number one, I have to go with this one due to it being organic and lower in calories, saturated fat [which may increase your risk of heart disease] and sodium,” Hunnes says (one serving of this pizza contains 340 calories, five grams of saturated fat, 530 milligrams of sodium and two grams of fiber). “The ingredients are primarily recognizable and much more like something you could reproduce at home; however, it’s hard to imagine anyone stopping at one-third of the pizza [which is one serving], so remember to multiply these numbers accordingly.”
2) Amy’s 4 Cheese Pizza: “Similar to the Simple Truth pizza, this is made with some organic ingredients that you would recognize,” Hunnes says. “The portion size is slightly smaller than the Simple Truth pizza, therefore, it should have fewer calories, and it does.” One serving of this pizza contains 290 calories, five grams of saturated fat, 530 milligrams of sodium and two grams of fiber. “I gave it a slightly lower rating than the Simple Truth pizza, because it has more sodium per calorie and a smaller portion size, therefore, you’re more likely to eat more of it.”
3) Daiya Cheeze Lover’s Pizza: Hunnes points out that the portion size of this dairy-free pizza is 25 percent larger than the average portion size of the rest of these pizzas. One portion contains 390 calories, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 670 grams of sodium and four grams of fiber. “This product has a lot of difficult-to-pronounce ingredients and some fillers, but it still contains the most fiber. Its downsides also include a high sodium content and the fact that no one will stop at just two pieces.”
4) Table5 Four Cheese Pizza: “This contains recognizable ingredients and not too much sodium [one serving contains 530 milligrams], but as always, you must take this with a grain of salt [sodium?] and remember to multiply by the number of portions that you actually eat,” Hunnes explains. One serving of this pizza contains 390 calories, seven grams of saturated fat and two grams of fiber.
5) Trader Giotto’s Pizza 4 Formaggi: “This contains high levels of sodium [870 milligrams per serving], but it has fewer calories [310 per serving] than some of the other options,” says Hunnes. One serving of this pizza also contains five grams of saturated fat and two grams of fiber.
6) Newman’s Own Four Cheese Pizza: Hunnes says that this pizza has “fairly recognizable ingredients,” but it’s high in sodium: It contains 770 milligrams per serving. Additionally, one serving of this pizza contains 390 calories, 10 grams of saturated fat and one gram of fiber.
7) California Pizza Kitchen Four Cheese Pizza: “This contains palm oil, which adds insult to injury: Palm oil isn’t only saturated fat on top of the saturated fat that’s already in cheese, but it’s terrible for the environment and endangered orangutans of Indonesia and Sumatra,” Hunnes explains. “The sodium-to-calorie ratio [one serving of this pizza contains 310 calories and 520 milligrams of sodium] is among the better ones, but that’s not really saying much.” One serving of this pizza also contains eight grams of saturated fat and only one gram of fiber.
8) Home Run Inn Four Cheese Pizza: “One-sixth of this pizza provides as many calories, and as much saturated fat and sodium as one-third of the other pizzas,” Hunnes emphasizes (one serving, which again, is one-sixth of this pizza, contains 370 calories, seven grams of saturated fat, 750 milligrams of sodium and two grams of fiber). “Although, the ingredients are better than some of the other pizzas.”
9) DiGiorno Four Cheese Pizza: “It’s not fully clear as to why this has no saturated fat, other than that it appears as though most of the cheeses are made partially from skim milk… still, this seems odd,” Hunnes says. “One major downfall is that the portion size of this pizza is only one-sixth of the pizza [similar to the Home Run Inn pizza]. Who eats only one slice? Plus, [that serving] has almost as many calories as the rest of the pizzas.” More specifically, one serving of this pizza contains 290 calories, 670 milligrams of sodium and one gram of fiber.
10) Totino’s Triple Cheese Party Pizza: “I’m not sure that this one is even recognizable as pizza,” Hunnes says. “This is the longest ingredient list I’ve ever seen, and I can’t pronounce at least half of it. Most people would eat the whole thing, doubling the numbers on the label. The only thing it has going for it is that the portions stop at two per container.” One portion of this pizza contains 310 calories, four grams of saturated fat, 530 milligrams of sodium and two grams of fiber.
“Your best bet is to make your own if you can,” Hunnes suggests. “Buy dough from Trader Joe’s (or make your own), buy a tomato sauce or pizza sauce with only a few ingredients that are recognizable and top it with some veggies and a small amount of cheese or non-dairy cheese.”
See you in the frozen aisle, fellow soon-to-be-dead people.