Pros: Fast service, decent flavor, inexpensive.
Cons: Not top of the line in flavor.
Little Caesars made it's mark on the American Psyche with their introduction to the term "Pizza! Pizza!" The concept being that you get two pizzas for essentially the price of one (compared to their competition at that time). In order to keep the continued pressure on their rivals, Little Caesar's came up with a new marketing ploy called "Hot and Ready!" Why none of the other pizza joints tried this sooner is really surprising. We live in a fast food culture. A pizza that you can walk out the door with immediately was a concept just waiting to be tried.
One of Little Caesar's main competitors is Domino's, which delivers a higher quality pizza...but used to run substantially higher than Little Caesar's. Even Domino's has succumbed to the pressure to compete for the dough American's like to shell out on cheap pizza. Domino's rolled out a campaign similar to Hot and Ready in price, where you could but additional pizzas for five dollars each. This reminds me of another old marketing tactic from Pizza Hut...if you remember the "four buck, four bucks, four bucks..." marketing campaign they did several years ago.
An interesting note regarding the history of Domino's and Little Caesar's...Domino's is owned by Tom Monaghan, a Detroit area native who owned the Detroit Tigers when they won the World Series in 1984. The chain is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan but was started in my hometown of Ypsilanti, Michigan. Mike Ilitch started Little Casesar's in Garden City, Michigan, and purchased the Detroit Tiger's from his competitor, Tom Monaghan. Ilitch also owns the Detroit Red Wings, who have brought him much more happiness as an owner than the perennial under-achieving Tigers.
The current craze at Little Caesar's, the "Hot N Ready" is a concept that I don't believe will fade away with time. With the constant on-the-go pressure of parenting, with kids that have busier schedules than the adults, fast food makes life easier. It may not be better for us, but it definitely allows us to take shortcuts. The inexpensive (five dollars each) pizza that Little Caesar's has ready for you to walk out the door with, will feed the family in a hurry, while not putting a dent in your pocketbook. Consider feeding a family of four on two pizza's and a salad and drinks that you already have at the house. You will spend ten dollars on the pizza and less than two or three dollars throwing a quick salad together. If you have big eaters, two pizzas will probably still leave you with leftovers. You would easily spend over twenty dollars feeding four people at any other fast food restaurant.
Party Central. Another great advantage of having Little Caesar's available is the savings you get feeding a crowd. If you have a home-style birthday party (you remember the ones...at the house...not at Chuck E Cheese, or other businesses that cater to kids parties)...you might find yourself with a good sized crowd to feed. If you were to take twenty kids to a pizza-based restaurant for a party, you will pay about ten dollars per child...that is two hundred dollars. I have been there and done that! If you take those same twenty kids and have a party at the house...you can feed them all with four or five pizzas. My son's last party included a rented bouncing pit, pizza and homemade birthday cake. The total cost, with the pit was just over one hundred dollars. We had in excess of twenty children...pushing upwards towards thirty all told. A hundred dollars sounds like a lot, but boy did I save money on that party!
The quality of Little Caesar's pizza is a matter of taste. The sauce that Little Caesar's uses has a good amount of spice in it, which I like. The cheese is of decent quality for pizza, but sometimes seems a little bit skimpy. If you get toppings, they are normally sparse. The toppings are normally abundant enough to add flavor, even if they are spread out a bit. The crust is hard on the outside and chewy on the inside, which is the way I like it. Because the ingredients on top like to congregate towards the middle of the pizza, the "bones" tend to be a bit wider than other pizzas. This is very wasteful if you don't eat the crust, but delightful if you like to dip the crust in sauce.
The price of Little Caesar's pizza is one of the most attractive qualities. Most of the Hot N Ready pizzas (cheese, pepperoni and sausage) run five dollars. They have started selling a combination pizza in my market that is six dollars. They also have bread sticks and sauce for two dollars. The 2-liter coca-cola products are over-priced. I try to stay stocked in liquid beverages at the house, and normally do not purchase the drinks at Little Caesar's. Little Caesar's has other specialty pizzas available, as well as build-your-own options (with options including green pepper, onion, Italian sausage, ham, Canadian bacon, beef topping, black olives, green olives, banana pepper rings, jalapeno peppers, bacon, mushrooms, and pineapple) which are a bit more expensive than the Hot N Ready line.
My overall impression of Little Caesar's pizza has been positive. It is not the best pizza I have had from a chain restaurant, but it is not bad, either. The quality seems consistent from one market to the next, so you have a good idea what you are going to get if you are traveling. The combination of quick service, low cost, and quality ingredients make Little Caesar's an excellent choice for a on-the-go meal. I would give Little Caesar's four stars out of five.
This review is part of Dianapinions Best Little Write Off