If Papa John’s Uses “Better Ingredients,” Why Is It So Hard To Find Out What They Actually Are?

Embodying yet again that just because a company says words over and over, that doesn’t guarantee they actually mean anything, Papa John’s slogan of “Better pizza. Better ingredients” is lacking in a pretty significant way. Because when it comes down to figuring out what those so-called “better” ingredients are, it’s pretty darn tough to nail’em down.

U.S. News & World Report tried to lend some credence to Papa John’s claims of betterness included in founder John Schnatter’s glowing assertions of: “I went the extra mile to ensure we used the highest quality ingredients available – like fresh, never frozen original dough, all-natural sauce, veggies sliced fresh daily and 100 percent real beef and pork. We think you’ll taste the difference.”

Yay! Fresh ingredients are delicious! The problem here is that all restaurants aren’t required to list ingredients in their offerings, unlike items you’d buy at the supermarket. Some provide them as a matter of company policy, but Papa John’s? Not so much.

When Melanie Warner of U.S. News & World Report tried to track down the ingredients, she came up empty-handed — first when she asked an employee who took her order for a pizza — “I think they’re listed on the website,” he guessed (they’re not) — and second when she tried calling the company’s toll-free number.

I was told that for “additional information on allergen or nutritional info” I should leave a message with [redacted], who would return my call the next business day. I left two messages, but Connie never called. Public relations wasn’t much help either. My emails and voicemails went unanswered. Only [the employee] offered a few thoughts about what exactly makes Papa John’s pizza “better.”

“We get deliveries in every three days, so nothing that’s in the fridge is more than a few days old. And we form the dough here. It doesn’t come ready to go, though it is made in a central facility and then frozen,” he said, offering a slightly different version of the story than what’s printed on the pizza boxes [editor's note: Papa John's motto is printed on the boxes].

The lack of information on what’s in Papa John’s pizza doesn’t necessarily mean the ingredients aren’t “better” or fresh or whathaveyou — it just means that we as consumers don’t know for sure. And that Papa John’s doesn’t really care if its customers have the facts, you’ve just gotta trust it, apparently.

Taking the word of a business whose main goal is to make money is a risky venture. Claiming you use “better” ingredients is an empty statement, unless you can support that statement with actual facts.

What Papa John’s doesn’t want you to know about their food [U.S. News & World Report]