Pizza rolls: a study

For some, it’s Pigs in a Blanket. For others, Bagel Bites. The definitive frozen snack for me is Pizza Rolls.  Totino’s Pizza Rolls, my roll of choice for many years, were introduced in 1951, making it quite possible that I’ve been enjoying them my whole life.

What I love about them are the chewy yet crisp eggroll-like exterior and the hot tomato, cheese and sausage interior. For the exterior, one must bite off each corner right out of the oven as soon as it’s humanly possible to handle them. Once you’re halfway through the roll, you inspect the interior. The cheese nuggets never melt so there’s no cheese pull, but a minor disappointment compared to the satisfying taste.

Six rolls are about 200 calories so there’s very little guilt associated with eating them, particularly if you’ve decided that you don’t want to cook. Dinner is served.

So what started this comparison of pizza rolls was the unfortunate purchase of Kroger rolls. I thought they were Totino’s because I was in a hurry and I didn’t read the bag. I’d also been dabbling in the Aldi brand of pizza rolls. So, a comparative study using the combination version in all cases. I know this is research you think is well overdue.


Here are the contenders before baking. The Kroger brand is on the left. As you can see there are unfortunate brown spots. I don’t know why they’re there. The Totino’s brand is in the middle. A beautiful uniform tan. And Aldi’s rolls are on the right. A roll aficionado will notice that the corners are slightly larger than Totino’s but the color is that same uniform tan. This becomes important later.

Here they are baked. You can see there were a few filling blowouts. That is desirable. Licking the oozing filling before actually biting into the rolls is immensely satisfying. The Totino’s rolls are top left. The Aldi rolls are top right. The Kroger rolls are on the bottom. The unfortunate brown blotches on the Kroger rolls are now accentuated. Unfortunate. The larger corners on the Aldi rolls is fortunate. More crispy crunch when invading the interior of the roll. Remember, both corners on one side off first. It’s just the way it’s done.

Now to the interior.

Kroger on the left. Again, unfortunate. The crust was dry and the filling paltry. The state of their pizza rolls in no way reflects my intense hatred of Kroger, at least the Brentwood Kroger, where the clerks are surly and customer service is a fleeting and theoretical concept. I would have hated them no matter what.

In the middle is Totino’s, my childhood favorite. Intensely chewy/crispy crust and you can clearly see the cheese nuggets that never melt. The difference between Kroger and Totino’s  fillings is obvious. The last is Aldi’s brand on the right. And here’s the one single thing that makes crowning Aldi the winner easy. The sausage. It tastes just like the sausage you’d fry up in the morning for breakfast. Clearly superior.

So my problem now is that I have equal amounts of frozen pizza rolls from all three places and clearly prefer the Aldi brand. I’m still fine with both Aldi and Totino’s, but those Kroger rolls….

Don’t tell him, but I’m pawning those off on King Daddy. Pizza roll excellence is not important to him. I can’t imagine why.

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