Who doesn’t love pizza? I happen to be lactose intolerant, but even I can’t resist popping a Lactaid and indulging in the occasional slice, future gastrointestinal discomfort be damned. But for times when you can’t have a real pizza, you just might be able to get your hands on some pizza-inspired snacks. My intrepid assistant — i.e., my 11-year-old son — and I tried some classics and newcomers to the genre. Here’s what we found, along with our totally honest, non-expert opinions on snacks that fit the criteria of vaguely resembling pizza in some way.
These are the quintessential pizza-inspired snack. The package says “New! Air-Fryability.” I don’t have an air fryer (should I get an air fryer?!), so I prepared these in the oven. They taste just like I remembered them. Even though I am an adult who should know better, I burned the roof of my mouth eating one. As for my son? He gobbled them up, perhaps because these were a novelty for him.
Is it nutritious? These actually have 5 grams of protein per serving and only 3 grams of sugar.
Bottom line: How does it taste? Like cardboard and nostalgia.
Hot Pockets Premium Pepperoni Pizza With Reduced Fat Mozzarella Cheese in a Seasoned Garlic Buttery Crust
Okay, Hot Pockets, that is quite a description. You’re a hot pocket, get over yourself! As the comedian Jim Gaffigan says, “I’ve never eaten a Hot Pocket and then afterward been like, ‘I’m glad I ate that.’” I can’t say this particular Hot Pocket resembled an actual pizza in any way, but my son said, “I would give these a solid 8 out of 10.” By the way, I promise I actually feed my child fruits and vegetables (although recently, at his annual physical, the pediatrician asked him if he ate healthy snacks; I braced myself for him to respond “I’m currently helping my mom test pizza-flavored snacks”).
Is it nutritious? LOL.
Bottom line: How does it taste? If I was starving, I would eat these.
My kid is a mac and cheese fiend as well as a pizza lover, so these seemed like a great combination. My son’s review? “It’s good if you’re looking for a quick snack.” In my opinion, it tastes like someone added some canned tomatoes to some frozen mac and cheese.
Is it nutritious? Well, it’s got vegetables in it!
Bottom line: How does it taste? Neither as good as real pizza nor real mac and cheese (I am counting boxed mac and cheese as “real”), but not terrible.
Baozza? More like Wow-za! These newcomers to the pizza-inspired snack world are microwaveable bao (steamed Asian dumplings) stuffed with pizza fillings. This sounds like it might not work, but it does, and gloriously. My son said, “These are amazing. Ten out of ten. Can we get more?” We sampled the Margherita and Cheesy Spinach flavors, but Baozza are also available in BBQ Chicken, Italian Sausage, and Pepperoni flavors.
Is it nutritious? It’s not exactly health food.
Bottom line: How does it taste? I want to kiss whoever invented these while the flavors of the Baozza linger in my mouth.
Moving into the room-temperature pizza-flavored snacks, we have Pizza Flavored Pringles. “Holy crap, these are good,” my son declared. Do they taste like actual pizza? Only vaguely. But they’ve got that airy-yet-crunchy texture Pringles are known for, and we had to put them away so we didn’t eat them all.
Is it nutritious? These chips surprisingly don’t have too much sodium (only 180 mg or 8% of the recommended daily intake).
Bottom line: How does it taste? Pringles are one of those foods that have been engineered to taste hella good, and they do.
I think “flavor blasted” and “Xtra Cheesy” might be overselling it. These taste like regular goldfish crackers but slightly less bland. My son thought they were “fine.”
Is it nutritious? In fairness, a “serving size” is a pretty generous 51 pieces at only 140 calories.
Bottom line: How does it taste? Like the food equivalent of someone who sends you a friend request who you think you vaguely remember from high school.
In general, I love a stuffed pretzel (I could eat a million Trader Joe’s peanut butter-filled pretzels). I offered these to my son and his friend and the friend declined to even try them (“You should make homemade pizza if you want something pizza-flavored,” he helpfully suggested, right before I kicked him out of my house for good). My son thought they were good, but he didn’t ask for more, which means I have been snacking on these little crunchy salt bombs all by myself (a win????).
Is it nutritious? I can’t really see any redeeming nutritional value here, except maybe that they’re low in fat.
Bottom line: How does it taste? Salty.
Janine Annett is the author of the humor book I Am "Why Do I Need Venmo?" Years Old. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the New Yorker, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Real Simple, Parents, and many other places. She lives in New York with her husband, son, and dog.