Papa John's Deploys Anchovy Shrink Ray

Some people like to eat anchovies. Reader H., for example. While H. likes to eat anchovies, however, he’s deeply disappointed that Papa John’s charges enough for the little fishies to disappoint even Philip J. Fry.

H. writes:

Me and my friend were hungry for a pizza one day and decided to call Papa Johns. After seeing a $10 Large Pizza deal I wanted to add some sides. We added some garlic cups which were at the usual price of .59 which is still way to much. Then I wanted some anchovies (yes some people actually eat anchovies) so saw that it was $1.50.


Last time I ordered anchovies from Papa Johns it came in one of those tin cans where you peel back the top. This time it was different. If you look at the picture all I got was 3 pieces of anchovies in a plastic container. I knew the gulf oil leak made seafood prices go up a bit but I didnt know it made anchovies $.50 a piece! I think this is the biggest rip off I have ever seen.

Are there any other anchovy lovers out in Consumeristland who have experienced similar portion shrinkage? H. should complain to corporate as well as Consumerist, or at least demand a reason for the change.


Edit Your Comment

  1. FatLynn says:

    Demand a reason for the change? I’m pretty sure he cited it in his e-mail.

    • Daverson says:

      The Gulf spill shouldn’t affect the price of anchovies, which are tinned for export mainly by Italy, France, Spain, and Morocco.

  2. Gandalf the Grey says:

    I would personally think of getting less anchovies as having been done a favor.

    But, that does seem to be quite overpriced for a few little pieces of fish. I hope you called to complain, and got a free order next time you purchased a pizza.

  3. rmorin says:

    First off, the OP loses some credibility when they say “We added some garlic cups which were at the usual price of .59 which is still way too much”. You are basically stating you universally believe their prices to be inflated (according to whatever rubric you use) meaning your perspective is already skewed. Second off I have never bought anchovies but a search on amazon shows that 25 – 2 ounce packages run from 33-40 dollars. So that means even at seemingly wholesale prices (assuming the amazon results are not some sort of gourmet anchovies, again I have never bought them) are 60-80 cents an ounce. You show a three ounce souffle cup in your picture and when it is all said and done, there is probably a little over an ounce in that. So the markup of a stand alone side of approximately 70 cents is really not that much in the restaurant business.

    • jesirose says:

      Great comment!

    • apd09 says:

      but that is not his point, his point was he used to get more and now he does not but is still charged the same price. So your rationale while valid regarding the markup vs what is provided works, but this person is angry that he was the one who used to be getting the better end of the deal and now he is upset about the company analyzing profit margins and realizing they had a potential untapped revenue stream by giving less product at the same cost.

      So just par for the course from any major company.

      I used to work for Dominos and also Papa Johns while in college back in the late 90’s. At that time, a large pizza with double everything cost the store around 3.00 to make. They in turn would charge 20 dollars or more for a pizza like that. the profit margins for pizza companies are out of this world. If you have a good location that sells 40 pizzas a day you more than cover your operating costs and start turning a profit. I think a large 1 topping pizza cost the store like $1.25 and they were getting 12+ for that.

      • rmorin says:

        I understand what you are saying, but considering that it is still a seemingly fair pricing system, I do not understand the point of being upset. They used to offer something at a really good rate, and now they offer it at a fair rate. At most the OP would be entitled to their $1.50 back, which is likely not worth their hassle.

      • Gulliver says:

        Yes, because the economy and pricing should not change since you were in college in the late 90’s. What did you pay for gas then? How much was insurance on the store? Do you think utility bills are the same? How about rent? Are employees paid the same today? Tell us all oh smart one, what has the cheese market done since the late 90’s. I would also like to know where people are getting $20 for a Domino’s pizza in todays world, let alone in the late 90’s.
        I do know a little about the world of two major pizza chains (Domino’s and Little Caesars) and your analysis comes from a low level employee who knew nothing about the actual operating costs of a business.

        • trentblase says:

          Well at least part of the economy hasn’t changed since I was in college in the late 90’s. Have you looked at the stock market recently?

    • trentblase says:

      Plus, if he bought the sauce, it wasn’t really “too much.” The sauces are definitely the kind of thing that I’d use sparingly when it came free, but would never pay for. So for me, it really does cost “too much.”

  4. Daverson says:

    I buy those little tins of anchovies all the time; they’re usually about a dollar or so (sometimes less if i get them at the job lot place) and they have 6 – 8 anchovy fillets inside. So yeah, H is getting ripped off.

  5. H3ion says:

    Start a neighborhood anchovy farm.

  6. jshier says:

    At first I thought the article was titled “Papa John’s Deploys Anchovy Stink Ray” and I thought, what, are they sending leftover anchovies with people’s pizza?

  7. BuyerOfGoods3 says:

    There is a HUGE anchovy market in the Gulf of Mexico. I read the report while doing some research..

    I would not eat anchovies unless you can determine the source. This goes for all Seafood and byproducts of seafood (ceasar salad dressing is made with anchovies, and vegetable lo mein is made with clam sauce).

    If you know ANYONE dealing with this in Louisiana, Alabama, Florida or otherwise – you know better. You see the news reports.

    • Daverson says:

      Thanks for the info. I retract my earlier reply to FatLynn.

    • tooki says:

      There may be anchovies caught there, but they’re not made into the the salty ones from a can. (Anchovy as a species and anchovy the product are two different things.)

      As best I can tell — I love the salty canned anchovies and buy them constantly — they are made only in Mediterranean countries.

  8. Hi_Hello says:

    some pizza place got rid of this little fishy from their menu

  9. humphrmi says:

    Wow, I’ve never seen anchovies on the side before, always on the pizza, cooked in. I don’t know why they charge so much for 3 – if you ordered a whole anchovy pizza (cooked in, not on the side) would you get more than three on the pizza? If not, I suspect there’d be some angry customers.

    I do think $1.50 is overpriced for three. I think a tin of them is about that price.

    • tooki says:

      I love anchovies, but hate them baked into the pizza — they form little pools of overpowering saltiness. I take them from the can, cut them into pinky-nail size pieces, and then apply them as I eat. Yum.

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      I wouldn’t like anchovies on the side but rather have them cooked on the pizza.

  10. MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

    OP should just buy a few tins when they’re on sale for 99 cents or so…they’ll keep until at least the year 3000.

    That’s right, I make my own anchovy pizza at home.

    • Genuineduck says:

      Year 3,000 you say? Where a certain mother will use the genes of anchovies to produce cheap and effective robot oil?

    • SharkD says:

      Crap-spackle! You’re going to eat them? Dear lord, by the year 3000, those anchovies will be priceless!

      By then, we’ll be able to chop out the oil-making part of the anchovy’s DNA and stick it in a bunch of third-world orphans, and BAM! Cheap effective robot oil.

  11. qbubbles says:

    Holy crap… now I’m craving anchovies. And I’ve never had one before.

  12. italianbaby says:

    papa john’s pizza itself is a ripoff…

  13. topgun says:

    If this is the “biggest ripoff he’s ever seen”, he just hasn’t seen many.
    Those prices are not out of line for restaurant prices at all.

  14. photoguy622 says:

    Darn you Zoidberg!

  15. SharkD says:

    I blame the Decapodian menace!

  16. bdesign says:

    I used to work for Papa Johns, this is not a case of “shrink ray”. It’s a case of someone screwing up the FIRST time. We never gave out the anchovy tin, we would always put them in the little plastic cup pictured…and I worked there 12 years ago.

  17. Dustbunny says:

    No “I make my own anchovies at home” comments yet?

    Fine. I make my own anchovies at home.

  18. ellmar says:

    I read the headline three times before I realized that it didn’t say “Anchovy Stink Ray”…

  19. human_shield says:

    I would just be upset that they weren’t on the pizza. If I order a pepperoni pizza I expect it to come prepared, cooked, and ready to eat with delicious pepperoni cooked into the cheese. I don’t want to open an overpriced can of pepperonis and add them myself.

    And really, if this is the case (where they just give you a can of anchovies – or used to) why not stock your OWN anchovies and put them on yourself? You’ll save money, and you have to do it anyway.

    • SunnyLea says:

      I think the person requests them on the side. I’m going to hazard the guess that his dining partner does not like disgustinglittlesaltyoilyfish… I mean, anchovies… on their pizza, so he gets them on the side and everyone is happy!

      Well, except for him, because he feels he was shorted on anchovies.

      (And, I agree that a good future solution might be to keep some anchovies on hand at home.)

  20. The Marionette says:

    Well your only other option is to buy anchovies at the grocery store (last i saw you could get a can for a little over $2) and just bring them in with you.

  21. reddbettie says:

    YES! My dad and I love anchovies (but mom and brother dont) so when the family ordered pizza for dinner we would always order them on the side. Papa John’s used to give those awesome little tins and we probably got pizza from there more often because of it.
    We were so sad the first time they started putting them in the little plastic cups. Over the years they have been giving less and less. So sad.

  22. Good Cop Baby Cop says:

    Whenever I ask for anchovies on the side, they send the tin along.

  23. supergeorgina says:

    Try paying 40 cents for ONE small slice of tomato.

    THAT’s a rip-off.

  24. steal_this_book says:

    The anchovies that Papa Johns buys come 16 fillets per can. Since a standard large pizza uses 8 of them (1 per slice), that leaves 8 left over to be put in a lexan container, dated, and kept to stink up the refrigerator for 24 hours. This is why a side of anchovies will potentially score you an entire can since increments of less than 8 are unusable on a pizza, and the amount that will fit in a souffle cup (standard for all sides) is more like what you got. Unlucky you that you scored a conscientious manager that went by the book instead of trying to limit the stink in fridge.

    The price issue is different. I’m sure it varies per franchise, but my experience has been a flat fee per side policy– in this case 59 cents. Check your receipt and make sure they charged you for anchovies as a side rather than as an extra topping. The order terminals are counter-intuitive and someone who hadn’t handled a side order of anchovies might have muffed that up.

  25. Winteridge2 says:

    I cannot eat anchovies, but the shrinker hit my ice cream last week too: down from 1/2 gallon to 1.5 quarts for the same price. Dang! Now I will have to buy 2 half gallons to get one. And no social security pay raise for another year. DangDang!