The WORST pizza I ever LOVED.

This post is an ode to one of the worst tasting pizzas I have ever had.  A celebratory tribute, one might say.

Last weekend, amidst the whole Domino’s “not-really-gluten-free ‘gluten-free’ pizza” debacle, I decided to make a statement with my dollars by purchasing some gluten free pizzas from another national chain which had quietly rolled out a line of GF pizzas: Chuck E. Cheese’s.

My daughter (one of the 2 celiacs in the family) has been to Chuck E. Cheese’s before….although we have either arrived after the birthday party has eaten their food, or I have brought a bag lunch for her to eat, and a home-made cupcake for her to eat while the rest of the birthday party-goers ingest greasy pizza and cake.  Needless to say, the full Chuck E. Cheese experience was not something I ever expected my daughter to experience.  (sometimes she asks when she will be allowed to have gluten…like we are punishing her or something, or that she will out-grow it….we try to explain that she never will be able to have it, but the concept of a LIFETIME of no gluten is a bit hard to comprehend for a 4-year old.)

So, we called up some friends (not celiacs) and made a playdate for Chuck E. Cheese’s.  We got there, the kids ran around playing games with the oodles of tokens we purchased while we waited for the food to be made.  Then the moment of truth:  our pizzas were up.

(At this point, I should explain that the pizzas at Chuck E. Cheese are a bit larger than a personal pan pizza and are around $6.  In addition, we ordered 2 of them, but everyone else at our table had a large pizza chock-full of gluteny-goodness.)

Let me say this:  I was impressed.

Was I impressed by the extremely knowledgeable server who brought our pizzas to the table?  Heck, no.  Aside from looking like she was 14, she seemed pretty clueless as to what a gluten free pizza was.

Was I impressed by the amazing deliciousness of the GF cheese pizza?  No…it tasted like crappy frozen-pizza from back when I could eat gluten…you know the kind – the brand you avoided buying even if it was on sale when you were in college?? Yeah.  That one.

Normally the combination of these 2 factors would be a 100% guarantee that we would never eat at a restaurant again, HOWEVER, in this instance, I was extremely impressed BECAUSE…..

The clueless server didn’t matter.  Somehow in the chaos of running a pandemonium-laden kid’s restaurant, the management at Chuck E. Cheese figured out a way to idiot-proof their gluten-free experience.  That is right.  Clueless server?  Didn’t matter.  Conditions in the kitchen?  Not an issue.  Our pizza arrived at the restaurant individually wrapped in a bake-able bag that it is cooked in, left sealed in, and delivered directly to our table in.  No one who actually works in the restaurant actually touches any portion of my pizza other than the outside of the sealed bag.  In addition, they come with an individually-wrapped pizza cutter that remains sealed, as well, and has the words “Gluten Free” printed in the handle.  That’s right: it comes with its own cutter that you can either dispose of afterward, or take home for your kid to use with Soy-Yer Dough at playtime.

Ahhh….but back to the taste.  Okay, I did exaggerate a little bit earlier.  Back before my diagnosis I had tasted some pretty awful pizzas, and this really wasn’t the worst of them.  Would I ever expect this pizza to win taste-tests though?  No.  It wasn’t great. But you know what?  It wasn’t bad, either.  It was mediocre.

But let’s face it, I wasn’t there for the fine dining experience.  And it is for THIS reason that I give this pizza a 5-star rating.  By creating this process, Chuck E. Cheese created an opportunity for my daughter to not only have her own party at Chuck E. Cheese some day, but to be able to attend other kid’s birthday parties and have pizza (nice and warm) brought to the table with theirs.  She will be able to pretend that she is a normal kid like everyone else at the party.  Heck, I would have eaten it even if it tasted like cardboard with melted cheese on top, and probably so would she, so I can say that in comparison, it does outshine cardboard.  🙂

And for dessert?  They have individually-wrapped, GF chocolate cupcakes, as well.  (Incidentally, these appear to be somewhat healthy (well, as healthy as a cupcake can be, really), as they are flavored and sweetened naturally, but I digress.)

She can take part in the complete Chuck E. Cheese experience.  And I LOVE that she can do that.  I love that there is a place where she can pretty much be a “normal” kid and for one aspect of her childhood social life, she doesn’t have to sit on the sidelines.

And for THAT, I love the pizza at Chuck E. Cheese’s.  Who would have thought that I’d ever be promoting a bland, frozen pizza as the best dining experience in town?  But here I am.  Doing just that.  So, GO TO CHUCK E. CHEESE’S:  if you have / know celiac kids, I think you’ll be asking yourself the same question soon.  And you’ll be happy to do so!

Oh!  And my 4-year old?  She thought the pizza was great.  So it looks like the higher-ups at Chuck E. Cheese have their clientele figured out pretty well….  So I’d say this GF pizza is worth all of the game tokens in the world.

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About AccidentalCeliac

I am an architect living in Minneapolis who was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. I also am a mother of two children, one of whom has Celiac Disease, as well. This blog is about all things related to navigating the many terrains of gluten-free living. I hope to share tips and experiences, post news and fun ideas, vent a little, and share anything else that has to do with this lifestyle that so many people are now living with.

12 responses to “The WORST pizza I ever LOVED.”

  1. terry says :

    love your writing, own a gluten free and vegan bakery, make pizza dough which sells at Noah’s/ spadina, sounds very plastic kinda but presentation and safety at chuckie cheeses are great and the happy kid warms my day

    • Karen Broussard says :

      I haven’t tried it yet, but having a 9 year-old with Celiac Disease, I’m sure I’ll feel the same way. I wish that Domino’s would follow suit with a similar “fool-proof” approach, because I don’t think I’d ever trust that they could make a truly GF pizza even IF they had a dedicated area, separate toppings, different utensils, pizza wheels, etc. There are just too many locations and too many people to train. Best to make it fool-proof like Chuck E. Cheese’s. At least then my son — and so many other kids with Celiac — would be able to fully participate in Bday parties, school functions, and the many other places Domino’s is served!

  2. Amy says :

    I hope this comes to Ontario Canada soon, i got tears in my eyes reading this because I know how it feels having a young child who has to be “different” at most events. Thanks for this!

  3. Constance says :

    What a great article! I’ve posted a link to it from our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/GlutenGurus

  4. Cc Gluten Freed says :

    I loved this post! I just wrote about you on my blog ccglutenfreed.com
    Are you on twitter or Facebook?

    • AccidentalCeliac says :

      Hi! I am not yet on either, although I have been meaning to start a Facebook page. Maybe this will be the final push I need to get around to doing that. Thanks for the feedback! Also, one of my favorite posts (and the one that got hundreds and hundreds of views out of nowhere) of mine is the “GOing gluten-free: Do or do not, there is no try” post….you might want to check it out, too. 🙂 I’ll be checking out your website! (and thanks again!)

  5. Barb says :

    I called, and apparently it’s only in MN right now. I don’t care. We’re newly diagnosed, and my kids both love PLAYING at Chuck E cheese. So I like that they can play there again. They’re gluten pizza isn’t the best, so why should the GF pizza be better? LOL Anyway, your post made my cry. I’m just stepping into the GF world.

    • AccidentalCeliac says :

      Well, welcome to the club that serves the worst food. (hahaha) Seriously though, hang in there. Things DO get easier! Let me know if you have any questions or need any sort of advice. If I can be of any help, I will do my best to do so! 🙂 (where are you guys, and how old are your celiacs?)

  6. Dan Turley says :

    This is something that I have a hard tim understanding, Why are we settleing for poor tasting food just because it is expected. I know that there are many products out there that are gluten free that make you want to gag but there is a little bakery in Salt Lake City that has the best tasting breads, cupcakes, sandwiches, all kinds of backed goods and yes, even pizzas that taste like all of those gluteness goodies that we so dearly miss. The Bakery is called Eleanors Bake Shop and they seem to have discoverd the right flour blend combination that makes everything good again.

    • AccidentalCeliac says :

      Well, to be honest, I think I have a few thoughts on that:
      1. GF Bakeries that successfully tackle GF food are amazing. We have one left in Minneapolis (we had 3 just a few years ago…but I digress) Getting food from them is a real treat. (and I like to support companies like this!)
      2. Regardless of how good these bakeries get, though, getting excellent tasting GF food on a casual, every day basis still isn’t an option. I can order all of the $3.50 apiece cupcakes I want for a birthday party at my daughter’s school, but at the end of the day, every other kid gets a party at Chuck E. Cheese, or McDonald’s, or wherever, and she (until now) couldn’t have that experience.
      3. Do I wish that Chuck E. Cheese would evolve a bit to find a tastier GF pizza? Absolutely! But when the dust settles, I am not going to take my kid (GF or not) to Chuck E. Cheese because of the fantastic tasting food. I am taking her there so she can not feel excluded from being “normal”….which is something many of my friends with older celiac kids express is a real and serious issue. In this regard, it isn’t about the food, as much as it is about the food creating a barrier to her being involved in a normal kid activity. They (Chuck E. Cheese) found a way to remove that barrier. So I applaud them for that. (and I hope as they slowly unroll this program out, they learn and make improvements as they go…I am just glad that they got the cross contamination component nipped in the bud right off the bat! Recipes can change, retraining employees is more difficult. So, my hat really is off to them for taking care of that.)
      4. I will have to see if Eleanor’s Bake Shop ships to Minnesota…..(after all, one can’t eat at Chuck E. Cheese’s every day….) 🙂

  7. Dwight Mceathron says :

    I love your writing style genuinely enjoying this web site.

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