An Open Letter to Papa John’s

Dear Papa John’s,

For years, I’ve sporadically heard positive things about your accidentally vegan garlic sauce. About how your pizza was a lifesaver in lands [then] without pseudo-melting vegan cheese options. Being a cilantro hater, I seriously respect diverse taste buds, but after sampling said sauce, and thankfully, not ordering it on my pizza, I confidently assume that I heard strictly from crazy people. Something is not quite right.  No one should be putting this melted down, obscenely flavored, pathetic margarine into their mouths!

A couple of weeks ago, I was at a resort where I could not successfully talk my way into a vegan option. Trust me, I know the ways this can work. Perhaps, if I had journeyed into kitchens, pulled out my polite bitch card and explained myself with a couple of cookbooks, I could have walked away with some roasted vegetables. I swear, I emailed in advance to no reply, spoke with 2 concierges – 1 of whom first recommended I travel 30 minutes+ off site for a meal, and later, returned from a meeting where she broached the topic of vegan options with kitchen management. The result? “Pasta….with oil, and salad…with fish”. Instead of overpaying for an attempt at buffet sides, my friends and I picked up pizza from Papa John’s.

Besides basic nourishment after a long day, I don’t think there was anything decent about this pizza. The olives, okay, but the pineapple was thinly sliced and soggy, the so-called ‘portobello’ was actually over-roasted, sliced creminis, the sauce was forgettable, and the dough was tasteless and flat. As in, did 16 year olds who’ve never been in a kitchen before try and make pizza dough? Quite possibly. Fine, it was decently priced – but worth it? No way. Afterwards,  I felt dirty, as if I’d accidentally been in a Domino’s.

To think, after my first bites, I thought the garlic sauce would come to the rescue. To think, I almost ordered it ON MY PIZZA.

Please increase your quality. You can do better! Stop insulting pizza, and furthermore, precious garlic.


Jess Scone

Papa John's
Papa John's


  1. lucas- you don’t like Earth Balance?

    jd- actually they call their creminis “baby portobellos”, which i heard is what creminis are. (…so obviously, they’re just trying to be fancy by calling them baby bellas.

    i definitely didn’t enjoy the crust as much when i had it sometime in the last couple years, but their breadsticks were “the jam” when i was in high school. dipped in garlic sauce…yum!

  2. How funny, I just tried that garlic sauce (and pizza) for the first time today, after hearing so many good things about it. It tastes like butter and chemicals! Awful.

  3. Hold up a minute. Those of us who loved Papa John’s garlic sauce were not crazy. It used to be amazing garlicky bliss. However, they changed their garlic sauce about a year ago. Now when you open it, it looks like straight-up margarine. Even if you microwave it, it still tastes like margarine. It’s pretty awful stuff. So don’t malign us. Their garlic sauce used to be amazing, but they changed it for some unknown reason and now it’s crap.

  4. Ugh – I gave Papa John’s a try this week and it was the worst!! When I asked to confirm the crust was vegan (and I live in CA) the person taking my order didn’t understand what I was asking (even when I emphasized what it meant) and had to confirm it with a manager. The pizza was tasteless and lacking veggies. Even slathering it with garlic and basil (sold as frozen cubes at Trader Joe’s) couldn’t redeem this sad excuse for a pizza! I always turned down the garlic sauce assuming it had butter in it.

  5. My hubby and I call it garlic death sauce. You feel your arteries hardening just being in the same room as it. That being said, it used to be garlicky deliciousness. I haven’t had it in years though.

  6. Your letter is extremely rude and uncalled for. You didn’t like the pizza or the garlic sauce. That’s perfectly okay. But the letter you sent the company was childish, ill informed, and incredibly snobbish.

    I don’t know if you’ve ever worked in the food industry, but these types of comments are always ignored. This is not constructive criticism. This is ego.

  7. i think lucas is saying it tastes good. who knows what earth balance is and doesn’t like it?! do you people think you’re so important that non-vegans know your brands by name? he’s saying what’s wrong with you people for not liking papa john’s garlic butter (like the article and first few comments say), when it tastes just like something you put all over everything else, which tastes good as well. i’m almost positive. think it over.

    1. no, dumbass. i ate the sauce and it tasted like melted, processed trash. it’s absolutely fucking disgusting and you should feel bad for having such a terrible palate if you actually enjoy it.

  8. and wtf is wrong with being in a domino’s? are you afraid to stand too close to people who can’t afford to eat vegan?

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