Domino’s Smart Slice

Domino’s has launched their new “Smart Slice,” which is a “reformulated” pizza recipe to fit the new USDA’s regulations for school lunch. It’s “51% white whole-wheat flour” and the pizza has “35% less sodium in the traditional sauce.” Where’s my party hat?

The story broke in January and many of you sent me links, which always failed to open on my computer. Weird…like they knew it was me. Anyway, the links magically work now. The official press release: A revolution in school pizza!

Delivery pizzas made by companies like Domino’s, Pizza Hut, Papa John’s are special treats. Delivered pizza should be a once-in-a-while thing. Like on Super Bowl Sunday. Did you know that pizza delivery companies across the country expected to see a 35% rise in sales Super Bowl Sunday (source)? The NFL’s official pizza provider, Papa John’s, expected to sell a million pizzas last Sunday, which would make it their biggest day of the year (source).

I just felt a little queasy.

Moving on, I wasn’t a big fan of the school pizza I ate. But I do like pizza. As a kid I would go out to Pizza Hut with my family for deep dish on special occasions. I loved that crust. And the garlic breadsticks, but my parents didn’t always allow us to get those.

My point is that with pizza being served at least a once a week thing at elementary school, and at many high schools it is offered every day, we have to use caution when letting these mega-corporations come in and give our kids these products on a regular basis.

How many of the home cooks who read this blog know how easy and cheap it is to make homemade pizza? That’s probably why my family didn’t go out to Pizza Hut very often — actually probably only when my sister and I were participating in Book It! and we got pizza coupons for reading (don’t get me started…). My mom made terrific homemade pizza and she would pair it with a salad of lettuce, green pepper and tomatoes. Simple and delicious.

If you haven’t made homemade pizza, I say go for it. It’s customizable, it’s so cheap, and of course your pizza wouldn’t contain a paragraph of ingredients because it’s not processed and you decide what you want. I find home cooking to be quite addicting. Once you try making your own pizza, it’s going to be a lot harder paying 20 bucks for one — though delivery is pretty convenient.

How much money will Domino’s get per slice? $2? $1? It’s dough, sauce and cheese, folks. It shouldn’t be expensive and no one should be making a buck off of feeding poor kids at school.

Let’s summarize: I’m marginally happy about the reduced sodium, but overall I think there are better ways to feed kids at school that don’t rely on pizza delivery companies.

Further reading:
Domino’s: A revolution in school pizza!
Slashfood: Domino’s “Smart Slice” To Appear in A School Near You
Serious Eats: Domino’s Moving into Schools with ‘Smart Slice’

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26 Responses to Domino’s Smart Slice

  1. philippa February 15, 2011 at 1:21 pm #

    You're not wearing your party hat, Mrs Q, because in spite of the lower sodium claim, a slice of pizza still provides >540mg of sodium.

    Most of the other nutrients don't seem to be too outrageous, I admit. (you have to click some links to find them) However, I think the problem with the product is that right at the bottom of the nutrient list it shows that a slice provides 3 portions of bread but just 1/8 to 1/4 cup of veg. The homemade pizza your mom served with salad on the side gave a much better carb:veg ratio.

    Most kids in America seem to eat commercially made pizza several times a week. Occasionally, as a treat, I don't have a problem with it, but as far as I'm concerned, it doesn't belong on the weekly school menu.

  2. Dr. Susan Rubin February 15, 2011 at 2:06 pm #

    Mrs.Q, you said a LOT when you said "no one should be making a buck off of feeding poor kids at school." It seems to me that these corporations are parasites feeding off of our kids at the expense of their health.
    We are kidding ourselves if we think that low sodium levels makes for a better pizza.
    http://www.betterschoolfood.com/kidding-pizza/

  3. ashiashay February 15, 2011 at 2:10 pm #

    Making homemade pizza is the best!! Also, it's worth noting that kids will LOVE to help with this…everything from the dough to the toppings.

    I was just talking with someone about Book It the other day…hmm.

  4. Katie February 15, 2011 at 2:23 pm #

    I make my own pizza all the time. It is delicious, and not too difficult (I make the dough in my breadmaker). We usually pair it with a salad, too. My mom also made homemade pizza all the time. We never ordered it (except for a special treat), and the only time we went out for pizza was…when we had our Book It! coupons!

  5. Christina @ Spoonfed February 15, 2011 at 3:58 pm #

    If a food has to be labeled "smart," it's not.

  6. Amy H February 15, 2011 at 4:30 pm #

    We just made calzones for dinner the other night. My 6 year old helped me make and knead the dough, and both girls picked out their own toppings and put them on (in). Then my 6 year old spent the whole meal talking about how delicious it was! Awesome!

    Here's an article I read about how delivery pizza in this country negatively affects farmers in other countries – it's pretty awful and one more reason to make your own.

    http://www.menshealth.com/print/22477

  7. shari February 15, 2011 at 5:30 pm #

    don't get me started on the book it program either! this year the completed month's sheet counts as a homework grade as well.

  8. Dawn February 15, 2011 at 5:32 pm #

    @ Amy — Buying purely organic fruits and veggies also directly harms local farmers. Those who refuse to eat anything but organic have no plans to stop what they do though.

  9. Agnes February 15, 2011 at 6:26 pm #

    Fridays are designated as pizza night in my household! My daughters (5yo and 2yo) help throughout the process. Homemade dough takes 45 min to make and rise while baking the pizza takes about 8 minutes. Voila! Dinner from scratch in less than an hour. And yes even broccoli makes a good pizza topping.

    This is the best recipe I've come across so far and a snap to whip up if you have a food processor/stand-mixer.

    http://www.delish.com/recipefinder/pizza-dough-recipe

  10. mhaithaca February 15, 2011 at 6:56 pm #

    I'm a little stunned at the suggestion above that Dominos is corporate "parasite" making money by feeding kids. Entirely aside from the nutritive value of the product, how is Dominos different from any of the distributors of prepared food, or even distributors of fresh ingredients that schools would buy to prepare food, in order to feed kids? Even in the utopian situation where schools start growing lots of their own produce to feed kids, much of the food is going to be purchased, in one form or another, from a corporation. Are those corporations parasites? Don't be ridiculous. They are businesses owned and staffed by people, including people in our own communities, who make money to feed their OWN families by making food available to schools and other institutions that need to feed large groups of people.

    Now, as for this particular product, I'm not that familiar with Dominos and their current offering, but I for one am glad that if they are already selling pizza to schools, they are working to make that product healthier for kids to consume by using whole grains and less salt. If they're making fresh pizzas to serve kids instead of having the school pull mass-produced, preservatives-filled slabs out of the freezer, even better.

    You also mention Papa John's. Their "better ingredients, better pizza" slogan isn't just marketing hype. The local franchise owner is a friend of mine, and he's really proud of the fresh produce and high-quality dough and cheese he uses. He's also proud to have groups of kids come for a tour and see how pizza is made… from scratch! Not ripped out of a frozen carton.

    Kids who go to a Papa John's and see that pizza doesn't just come out of a box, but involves preparing fresh ingredients, rolling out dough, and so forth, are more likely, not less, to be interested in making pizza themselves at home.

    My overall point is that I'm delighted with local businesses (and that's what Dominos franchises are) making fresh food and bringing it to schools to feed students as an alternative to the awful prefab pizza we got when we were kids, and I'm even more delighted that these companies are making a significant effort to increase the healthfulness of the product. Slamming them for it seems counterproductive, to say the least. Instead, I urge you to praise them for the effort so far and help them figure out what efforts are next.

  11. Marvin February 15, 2011 at 7:07 pm #

    @mhaithaca

    As much as I do like what Mrs. Q has to say at times, these shots at big corporations that she routinely takes rarely take a look at the bigger picture. They take a tunnel vision look at an issue with considering larger implications.

    I was half expecting her to say that any pizza served in school should be made from scratch. That's pretty much akin to saying pizza should never be served since most schools don't have the manpower to make that many pizzas.

  12. mhaithaca February 15, 2011 at 11:13 pm #

    @Marvin… And of course we don't know what they're eating the rest of the week. Pizzas made by hand at the Dominos franchise up the street could well be the freshest food these kids ever get to eat.

    A friend of mine recently started working in the kitchen at a local childcare facility that used to serve all processed foods similar to what we hear about here. She was hired because she had a real cooking background, and the place wanted to start serving real food, cooked from scratch. They've been doing just that for the last couple of weeks, and while she says it's exhausting, she's happy with what they're feeding the kids, and the teachers are loving it, too.

  13. Anonymous February 16, 2011 at 1:53 am #

    Mrs. Q, you should know better! Here's the quote: "How much money will Domino's get per slice? $2? $1?" C'mon, Mrs.Q, if this is pizza intended to be part of a reimbursable school meal, then Domino's will get nowhere near that amount! In most school districts, the entire food cost for a lunch is well under $2, and at many it hovers close to $1. If you make an effort to understand the economics of school lunch (and so far I haven't seen that in this blog)then this blog will be much more effective at improving the lunch system.

  14. Mrs. Q February 16, 2011 at 2:44 am #

    I certainly know the cost of school lunch. I'm just wondering aloud why Domino's is trying to get a piece of the action — what's in it for them?

  15. 4ede2a1a-397d-11e0-82fc-000bcdcb471e February 16, 2011 at 3:32 am #

    Yes! Say no to corporate pizza! My high school recently implemented Dominoes Pizza Fridays and it's pretty popular. But there's a growing group of us kids who think that it's over the top expensive! They charge us kids 2.50 a slice, an entire pizza for 20. We figured out that on top of serving us unhealthy and, in my preference, disgusting hastily made pizza, the school was making a 400% profit. Pretty ridiculous considering they already make a crap load of money charging us 2.50 for a tiny cup of carrots. :/

  16. Lady Lilith February 16, 2011 at 4:13 am #

    "51% white whole-wheat flour"… so, is it whole wheat or white? Man, talk about confusing terms.

    Personally I think it's a step in the right direction. Not sure if the pizza slices are commerically made, but with only about 3 kitchen ladies on staff, I doubt that it's from scratch… nevertheless, those pizza slices were greasy as hell. Take three bites and the paper plate is soaked through with grease…

    – Lilith "Sugar High"

  17. Lady Lilith February 16, 2011 at 4:14 am #

    * Oops, forgot to add "Not sure if the pizza slices from my HIGH SCHOOL are commerically made…" 😉

  18. Milehimama @ Mama Says February 16, 2011 at 5:13 am #

    I just wanted to add, that at my high school (in the 90s) we had a Taco Bell cart, a Domino's cart, and a Subway cart in the cafeteria. They were staffed by the restaurant employees and I (guess?) they gave a cut to the school. Not sure.

    BTW- White Whole Wheat is a kind of wheat berry (as opposed to red winter wheat berries.) It's softer and makes a more "white bread" type crumb instead of a heavy, whole wheaty kind of crumb.

  19. Rob Rosenthal February 16, 2011 at 5:17 pm #

    Here's a 2-minute how to video on making an artichoke pizza; easy to substitute tomato sauce & cheese.

  20. Kathleen McDade February 16, 2011 at 5:26 pm #

    As far as the money goes — Domino's could even be LOSING money on this, and maybe they really are trying to provide good food for kids, but it's also a marketing strategy — get kids eating Domino's pizza in school so that they'll be more likely to clamor for it (or buy it themselves) later.

  21. Gina Rau February 17, 2011 at 4:22 am #

    I have to admit that this story makes me thankful for my son's dairy sensitivity – we have the best excuse to not eat this junk.

    The reality is that my kids really do like pizza, and even though we have some great local places in town that make everything from scratch and offer gluten and dairy free choices, we make our own at home almost weekly. Many Friday nights are pizza and family game or movie night around here. Here's one of our favorites:
    http://www.feedourfamiliesblog.com/2010/09/pizza-and-movie-night.html

  22. greenmomintheburbs February 17, 2011 at 3:20 pm #

    While I totally admire all the folks posting here who make their own dough–just to point out, if you start with a pita (whole wheat!) or piece of naan or other flatbread, the whole pizza-making process can literally take 10 minutes start to finish including the 7 minutes baking time. Of course, it takes longer if you get creative with ingredients, but we tend to toss on there whatever we have in the fridge, and it's EFFORTLESS.

    We ordered Pizza Hut last week–and honestly I thought it tasted kind of gross compared to what we make on our own.

    The SCHOOL making the 400% profit is almost more worrisome to me than the Domino's part–if the school is hamstrung by what they can spend on school lunches and then along comes this windfall, it's going to be even more of a challenge to keep things actually healthy (not "healthier than the completely crappy alternative," but actually GOOD food…)

  23. Anonymous February 17, 2011 at 6:29 pm #

    We love to make home made pizza! The kids love to help rolling the dough, sometimes into fun shapes. If you haven't tried it yet, try grilling the pizza. I roll the dough really thin, put it on the grill for about five minutes, flip it, top it and put the lid down. Let it grill for about five more minutes.

  24. Penny February 19, 2011 at 9:18 pm #

    I make bread dough, knead it, roll it out into flat circles, and lay out the topping options at home, and bake the end result to create all sorts of tasty pizzas. Of course the scenario is as follows:
    I make a fresh tomato and basil pizza, with a little bit of oregano and a relatively small amount of fresh mozzarella cheese. Finished product is drizzled with some extra virgin olive oil before baking.
    Hubs ladles on so much meat, sausage and bacon layered with cheese that I'm not sure he remembered the dough… We sample each other's pizzas with gusto, and I end up having to make a new one to replace what he ate of mine, too. (I do love him, and know this happens, so I was prepared for it).

    To make it known, I'm used to doing this in a wood-fired brick oven when my grandmother, who lives and breathes Italy (she studied art restoration there) was baking them in her summer villa, with a 200 year old baking oven. The taste of those pizzas has been "to die for". 🙂

  25. Amanda February 19, 2011 at 11:50 pm #

    When I was a kid I LOVED making homemade pizzas! So fun! You can make little pictures with the toppings. We used pre-made crusts, though.

    But we also ate our share of delivery and frozen pizzas too.

    I love a good pizza, but I don't think pizza should be a staple portion of a kid's diet. It's mostly bread with some cheese on it (the sauce and toppings don't seem to amount to much). A fun treat, but it doesn't seem that nutritious to me, even the ones with quality ingredients.

    Obviously schools don't agree with me. Maybe I'm wrong. I don't know off the top of my head the nutritional content of 2 or 3 slices of pizza compared to other meals, except I seem to remember something about the large amount of fat the typical delivery pepperoni pizza can have.

    Pizza just seems to me to be more of a party food rather than a "real" meal. Kind of like hot dogs or nachos.

  26. Anonymous February 21, 2011 at 3:39 am #

    We own a Domino's franchise and sell the pizzas to the local high school for $6.00 each, + we have to give them so many free pizzas per year for the privilege of selling them pizzas (they negotiated pretty hard with us). How much do they charge the students? I wouldn't point at the pizza shop as much as the school – they're probably charging these kids $3 for their lunches.

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