These Red Baron Frozen Pizzas Could Be Rounder

Cap in California bought three deformed Red Baron frozen pepperoni pizzas from his local Safeway. One looks “half-eaten,” and another sports a mysterious speck of “weird red/black dark matter” that Manfred von Richthofen would reject as pepperoni. Cap writes:
A quick warning for those in the Sunnyvale, CA area buying Red Baron frozen pizza: Don’t.

They were on-sale — three for $9.99. My roommates and I (tricked by the xxx for xxx sale) grabbed three.

Opened one box and found it to be a deformed pizza.

Hmm. The machine couldn’t make this pizza properly, we thought. No worries, let’s try the next box.

Each box was subsequently worse off than the next. One of them (the one that looks like it’s half-eaten) has some mysterious weird red/black dark matter embedded into the pizza. Uh, cool? Extra toppings?

Safeway was cool though, they promptly offered an exchange or refund. We took the refund.


Edit Your Comment

  1. OhToSee says:

    It’s probably not the “machine’s” fault, but rather improper storage. At some point, the pizza thawed and was stored or displayed standing up. The dough melted and the toppings followed. This isn’t necessarily due to it being a Red Baron brand pizza. But from my time eating those frozen pizzas, Red Barons always tasted awful.

  2. banned says:


  3. Sherryness says:

    This indicates they were unfrozen for God-knows-how-long. And it was obviously during transport, since the box was obviously on its end to get the unfrozen dough to bunch up like that. Then it was re-frozen into the mess you saw when you opened the package. If you get a pizza like that, do NOT eat it. There is no way to know for how long it was unfrozen, nor at what temperature. It could have sat at 80 degrees for 6 hours. UNSAFE.

  4. Hawk07 says:

    There’s nothing wrong with those pizzas. It’s called the future. Remember Back to the Future when they put what I think was a Pizza Hut personal pan sized pizza in their microwave and it came out as a large pizza? Anyways, it appears Red Baron has perfected the recipe.

  5. enm4r says:

    It had to be hours they were sitting at room temp to deform like that. I can set a pizza out and leave it there for an hour or so before I put it in the oven, and it wont even come close to being able to deform like that.

    Do not eat, and inform the supermarket.

  6. homerjay says:

    If that was done in transit (very likely) then imagine the scores of other products that went unrefrigerated for hours on end. Particularly the ones that don’t have quite the obvious ‘tell.’

    There’ll likely be some sick sick people in the Sunnyvale area soon.

  7. godai says:

    I’ve had the red barron’s go like that during the hour or two that they were in my shopping cart and travel on the way home.

  8. dugn says:

    Why is this even a story? Sure, there were three pizzas – so the statistical likelihood of this multiple bad pizzas was lower. But honestly, what’s the bar for a post on Consumerist?

    This guy found a problem, mentioned it to Safeway, they solved it. No big deal.

    I can’t list the number of missing parts, malformed food, and shoddy workmanship I’ve come across. Very few of them are post-worthy. Only the truly inane, noteworthy or especially egregious customer service disasters are ones I’ll ever send your way. Here’s to hoping others hold the bar as high.

    I’d just hate to see this great web site lose its panache and become a forum of whiners for anyone who got .1 oz less macaroni & cheese than the label said.

  9. ceejceej says:

    @dugn: Yeahm ‘cuz making it a forum for complaints about the posts is WAY more suitable.

  10. Sherryness says:


    And that is exactly why I treat most food, even frozen pizza and the like, as if it were raw meat. Never let it touch other surfaces and wash my hands after handling!

  11. lpranal says:

    I’m not so convinced this was the result of being thawed during transit. Not sure about safeway, but once upon a time (5 years ago) I used to work at a grocery store in the frozen food section, and red baron’s always came on the truck with the rest of the food. We’d actually thrown out the better part of a truckload of food because of a thaw before, and it’s pretty easy to tell when it happens because of items like ice cream and frozen bread. Also, pizza is ALWAYS shipped in a way that would make it very unlikely for it to shift like this- the top of the box always goes up. Palettes are packed in a specific pattern for each item.

    Much more likely, this was left out on the floor being stocked and forgotten about, on it’s side. Which would indicate someone stocking the frozen food department wasn’t doing their job, and there’s a good chance that this has happened before and will happen again, unfortunately NOT necessarily in a way that is visibly noticeable.

  12. cde says:

    Gravity and Red Baron had a fight. I guess gravity won.

  13. Sherryness says:

    @dugn: Safeway solved the problem? It checked the other pizzas for sale and checked the other items in that delivery for safety? I don’t recall that being addressed.

    I think food that has gone bad, for what ever reason but in this case due to obvious negligence – something that is going into our bodies and could possibly make us sick – is very newsworthy.

  14. timmus says:

    CALL THE CITY HEALTH DEPARTMENT, not Consumerist… selling thawed pizzas is a food safety violation and I doubt the store can be trusted to pull the other affected items off the shelf. What you do is good karma and can prevent some innocent toddler or elderly person from coming down with violent food poisoning.

    On the other hand, it’s Saturday. That sucks.

  15. Sherryness says:

    @timmus: My opinion – call the health department AND consumerist. I appreciate knowing that Safeway’s only response to this was to give back the money for the purchase. I am now back to being very wary of them since they did not say something to the effect of, “I’m so sorry about this. We will investigate how this happened and try to make sure it doesn’t happene again.” Which should have been their response.

  16. robertseaton says:

    Everyone can calm down…these come directly from an outside vendor and not from a Safeway warehouse. Chances are the vendor had a refrigeration problem at some point in their supply chain.

    You guys are really stretching for stories on the weekend.

  17. alpha says:


    s/on the weekend/always

  18. guroth says:

    I used to get the red baron mini deep dish pizzas all the time (delicious) and I had never had a problem with any of them, it is sad to see that some of their products are not making it up to par, hopefully it is an isolated incident.

  19. dantsea says:

    The series of overreactions — starting with the person who submitted the story and carrying on through many of the comments — are a nice illustration of how little we think about what happens to heavily processed food before we eat it. Sometimes I think if people were even half-aware of the common problems from supply chain to shelf stocking we’d all be in our backyards eating dirt clods out of anxiety.

    Also: @Sherryness: I don’t see anything in that story that says those issues were not addressed. I CAN HAS RHETORIC TOO! :)

  20. please take into account the underpaid frozen food dept who forgot to rotate stock…that regularly happens with everyday items.

  21. TVarmy says:

    @Hawk07: That’s why the box says self rising! Consumerist, where is your faith in the instructions on boxes!?

  22. medcat2010 says:

    lol It looks as unappetizing as normal, except now there’s only half of it.

  23. faust1200 says:

    Dark matter on a pizza – flippin’ sweet! “Dark matter – In astrophysics and cosmology, dark matter refers to hypothetical matter of unknown composition that does not emit or reflect enough electromagnetic radiation to be observed directly, but whose presence can be inferred from gravitational effects on visible matter. “

  24. infinitysnake says:

    @ceejceej: I’m pretty sure that’s an acceptable use of the “comment” section. You know, for commenting.

  25. Havok154 says:

    Nerdy, but I still laughed….wait, that makes me a nerd, doesn’t it?

  26. eli_b says:

    This story is slanted a little wrong towards red baron. This is obviously a fault with the store and a box being on the side and getting left out of the refrigeration unit. My parents and I have separately bought that brand pizza for years and never once have I had one that was even the slightest bit off.

  27. zekedms says:

    It’s not so bad. Think of it this way: With only half a pizza, there’s enough toppings to make it look like the picture without adding your own pepperoni.

  28. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    I can’t believe anyone would stick up for any brand of frozen pizza. Put some sauce and cheese on the box, it probably would taste better (and be better for you). If you prefer not to make your own, you can order on the web from the big chains, or better still support your local pizzeria(s).

  29. sharki3232 says:

    You should also notify the company, they need to know that this Safeway is giving thier product a bad name.

  30. eli_b says:

    @doctor_cos: I think of them as two different things…I enjoy certain brands of frozen pizza, esp the rising crust kind. I don’t know about where you live, but here, the local pizza places can’t make a pizza. Anyhow, I actually do like certain brands of the frozen ones. I rarely eat pizza anymore, but as a vegetarian, I can get a cheese pizza, throw some veggies on top, good to go.

  31. Looks like the plastic wrapping hasn’t even been tampered with. Company defect? I just bought a frozen pizza too. Its not Red Baron but I hope it didn’t suffer a similar fate!

  32. The_Shadow says:

    I agree with LPRANAL and the others that said this seems more like an issue at the Safeway rather than Red Baron. Frozen pizzas are frozen before they receive their plastic wrapping, and all three of these pizzas seem smooshed to one side – rather than a malformed crust.

    @doctor_cos: Not all frozen pizza is bad – I consider Red Baron to be one of the better brands out there. And on the same token not all pizza chains, or local pizzerias even, offer a pizza that is superior to the frozen varieties.

  33. RebekahSue says:


    I can’t list the number of missing parts, malformed food, and shoddy workmanship I’ve come across.

    you bring up an interesting point.
    I wondered today how many people don’t bother to complain because it’s not worth the time, effort, etc, over the things you mentioned.
    I think that these items add up in a HUGE way for these companies, across the board, and that they probably figure that a percentage of the population won’t bother to complain. Thoughts?

  34. nearsite says:

    I live in Sunnyvale, which Safeway should I be avoiding?

  35. Cap says:

    @nearsite: Late reply but, it was the Safeway at El Camino and Bernado. Probably just a storage/distribution problem as everyone mentioned. As mentioned though, makes you wonder a bit what other stuff were left unfrozen by the same supplier/distributor.

  36. Kwentwo1 says:

    12/17/07 Bought Redbaron pizza from Walmart (Red baron Classic 4 meat) product code 317324 2221:02 bar code 72180 63481 in Grapevine Texas 12/6/07. Friday night 1214/07 about 8:30 p.m decided to eat the pizza. cooked it for the recommended time and took it out of the oven and it didn’t taste right so cooked it a little longer. took it out and figured it was done. Was putting it in the pizza pan but noticed it wouldn’t fit. I was thinking thats the only pizza pan I used and looked for a bigger one. couldn’t find one so I knew that was the correct pan and couln’t understand why is was so big. Thought maybee it was a mess up at the factory and just was a little bigger. Anyway I was eating the pizza and noticed it tasted a little funny but thought maybe its because its a frozen pizza. Anyway about 3:00 am I got up do to my stomach was hurting real bad and I’m sure I don’t need to explain the rest. I was sick for two days and almost went to the hospital. I missed my Mangers company party and plans for Christmas shopping Sunday. Yes I’m back to work Monday (a little late) and alot lighter, but little upset because when I called the walmart to let them know they acted like it was no big deal. it was and I’m contacting the city health department. Just a word to the wise. If you ever buy a frozen pizza and you know the previous pizza’s fit in your pan, and this one doesn’t, do not eat it, my oppoinion is it thawed out somewhere and the dough got larger and the meat spoiled. I was hurting real bad and if my daughter had ate some(she was at the mall with freinds) she would have had to go to the hospital for sure.

  37. cavemandon says:

    I actually purchased two of the small individual sided pizzas a few month ago and found only 3 pieces of topping on one pizza and 2 on the other. I sent a rather short comment to them via their website and they sent me a coupon for a free one…

    … I have yet to use it…

  38. splazmataz says:

    Having worked for years at a very well-known grocery chain, I can tell you that all manner of perishable foods routinely sit out of refrigeration for unacceptable periods of time. I cannot count the times that I personally witnessed the “grocery” mgr help unload the products, which are shipped by truck from out of state warehouses on big pallets that have been shrink-wrapped, then the over-worked manager is abruptly taken away to a new task… the milk, ice cream, frozen foods, whatever just sits there…….in the corner of the parking lot, say in august……until another employee who is designated “allowed” to by virtue of union rules can take over and hopefully get the foods into the coolers. Yes, for some reason, employees from the bakery are NOT allowed to assist the grocery dept., simply because they are in a different union. Add to this the fact that most large chain grocery stores receive multiple deliveries every single day of the week, add to THAT the fact that there is simply NOT enough freezer/refrigerator space to accommodate the deliveries, so they often sit on U-bars OUTSIDE the freezers…..or they have to put a bunch of frozen pizzas (that are invariably on sale that week, so there is 5 times as much as usually would be ordered) in the produce cooler for half a day (or longer)…..well, you get the picture. It’s particularly bad during summer and winter holidays. There are multiple factors that exist in most small and mid-sized grocery chain locations that cause food to remain out of refrigeration for unsafe periods of time. Consider that most grocery store employees work alone these days in their respective departments, and that overwhelmingly, they are part-time employees. Very large locations can’t really get away w/ this as much but if you look closely the next time you shop, you might be surprised to see how very few employees are working throughout the store at any time of day. Consider that those part-timers are expected to do more per hour than ever before while directly serving customers such as in the deli, bakery and seafood departments. This contributes directly to improper food storage… can’t be slicing salami and cheese for that line of customers that just appeared out of nowhere seemingly, AND be putting your deliveries away at the same time. So, that pallet of farm-raised atlantic salmon or frozen pizza sits off to the side somewhere in receiving until you are able to put it away. Also, manufacturers routinely send new products, which must be fit on a shelf or into a case SOMEWHERE, and often products already on the shelf are taken back off when making room and may sit out of the freezer for 1/2 an hour or even an hour before they get back in the case. This also often causes product not only to evade “rotation” (first in, first out), but to end up pushed so far to the back of the case that it goes out of date for months. Worse, it can freeze onto the back wall of the case, esp. if the temp. is not calibrated properly (which unless a big yearly inspection is afoot, they are not. They are filthy as well). Nearly my entire work history has been with food, whether as a waiter or a prep cook, years as a baker or countless hours preparing all manner of deli treats, and I’ve always carried a certain nobility to the task of preparing and serving food, BUT, I do not eat out at restaurants very often. I treat myself to McD fries a couple times a year. I thoroughly inspect ALL packaged foods along with produce and meat. I have seen in my 44 years some truly vile things where it comes to food safety. Honestly, I just discovered this site last night but I have been mighty concerned about food in general for some time. It’s enough to make me want to dump all prepared foods and grow my own. There are tons of farms all around here and farmers markets aplenty. Don’t assume that the frozen dinner you blindly drop in the cart is safe because the grocery store is bright and the freezer was so cold that your fingers went numb as soon as you touched the handle…..BTW, side note; 30% of the electricity consumed in the US is to run the massive aisles of industrial freezers and coolers you find at all grocery stores. So, I’ll plant my own garden (that is until monsanto patents dirt).
    Hydroponics anyone?