It is a commonly known fact that college students like pizza. Deciding where to get the pizza, however, can be such a hassle.
Of course, some people know exactly what they want.
“When I’m at home, I drive 30 minutes out of my way to get Pizza Hut for dinner, ” said senior Abigail Panabaker.
Others know exactly what they don’t like.
“I hate Pizza Hut,” junior Grace Ramsey said. “Don’t talk to me about Pizza Hut. That’s not pizza.”
For the undecided voter in the pizza wars, it’s nice to be able to make an informed decision about where to buy the next pizza. And since interruptions aren’t conducive to focused study or focused free time, being able to stay in the dorms is important, so delivery is vital. On that note, students have easy access to Pizza Hut, Domino’s, Hungry Howie’s, and Cottage Inn.
All of these companies use the same basic style oven as SAGA, though they are much larger. The pizza is cooked on a conveyor belt that passes through the oven. You won’t be finding wood fired or stone baked pizza here.
The most popular Hillsdale pizza, according to a Collegian survey, is Hungry Howie’s. These pizzas come from a garishly yellow building with a cheerful atmosphere. According to Chelsea Sherman, an employee, here are things to know:
What makes Hungry Howie’s special? “We have flavored crusts. We’ve been here forever. The previous owner’s son went to Hillsdale.”
What are the specials? “We have college specials: always $6 large one topping pizza, and $1 off delivery if you tell us you’re a college student, and medium one topping pizza for$5.”
What are the proportions and baking specs? “Large pizza’s have 6.8 ounces of sauce and 8.5 ounces of cheese. We bake them for six minutes at 512 degrees.”
How do they deliver? “We are really fast at delivering pizza. We deliver to all the buildings and know where they are.” They deliver in less than 30 minutes and keep enough delivery drivers to ensure that. If that becomes a challenge, they call backup drivers to make sure they don’t slow down.
Pizza Hut often advertises their buffet and sit down specials as a pizza joint with a cliché Italian feel, but they also deliver. The Restaurant General Manager, Heather, says:
What makes Pizza Hut special? “We have chunky vegetables, pan crust pizzas, and stuffed crust pizzas.”
What are the specials? “Specials alternate every three months, and sometimes they overlap. We have $10 large unlimited topping pizza.”
What are the proportions and baking specs? “Proportions depends on the size of the pizza, but we have a lot of cheese, and a larger amount of sauce than most. Pizzas go eight minutes through the oven at 475 degrees.”
How do they deliver? “Delivery time aims at under 40 minutes. If late, we reimburse part of the delivery fee. We have lots of student deliverers. If the door is unlocked we’ll come in and deliver to your dorm or campus building. As long as you tell us where you guys are, we can get it there.”
Domino’s Pizza General Manager, Rebekah, would like the well-informed college student to know:
What makes Domino’s special? “All our dough is fresh, never frozen. We make everything here by hand. It’s made to order, not sitting all day. Domino’s is fresh. We have handmade pan and hand-tossed pizzas. We make ‘artisan’ pizzas. We have pizza with gluten-free crust that actually tastes really good.”
What are the specials? “Right now, we have medium two topping handmade pizzas for $7.99.”
What are the proportions and baking specs? “We use twice as much cheese as sauce, and bake our pizzas for seven minutes at 510 degrees.”
How do they deliver? “We aim to deliver in under 30 minutes.” But they don’t have a guarantee.
Cottage Inn started in Ann Arbor. The General Manager of the Hillsdale franchise in its squat, white building on 182 W. Carleton, Brady, had this to say:
What makes Cottage Inn special? “We have a unique taste. It’s a better product. For example, our cheese isn’t just mozzarella; it’s a blend of three cheeses.”
What are the specials? “For what college students would be interested in, we have a large one topping special for $5.49 plus tax, which comes out to about $5.82. We also have a five topping large for $10.49 plus tax. Our gourmet, or specialty, pizza’s are $9.99.”
What are the proportions and the baking specs? “It’s a moderate amount of sauce. We are very generous with our cheese and toppings. Nothing skimpy about that. Our pizza goes through the oven in a little over six minutes, the oven is a little over 500 degrees.
How do they deliver? “We don’t deliver. We do pickup. Your order should be ready for pickup within 10 – 15 minutes of call.” For students willing to drive, a pizza from Cottage Inn is faster than anywhere else.
When it comes to delivery, Panabaker judges deliverers’ attractiveness, efficiency, and professionalism.
“Hungry Howie’s is the the fastest delivery and has the cutest delivery boy. Pizza Hut has the hottest delivery girls,” she said. “The Pizza Hut delivery process was professional; none of the others were professional. The deliverers used coherent sentences.”
Michigan freshman Kaleb Molina also considers Pizza Hut to have professional deliveries. When he ordered, Pizza Hut gave him an estimate of time till his pizza arrived.
“They got there when they said they’d get there,” he said.
Opinions on the perfect pizza still abound. According to early responses to a Collegian survey, 48 percent of students prefer Hungry Howie’s to the other delivery companies.
“I like the flavored crust,” said senior and art major Alex Gage, “They just have a lot of flavor to their pizza.”
Domino’s follows Howie’s with 22 percent of early responders. Melika Willoughby, a politics major and a junior, favors Domino’s pizza.
“The crust of Domino’s is bready and toasted on the outside. So it has the perfect consistency of rough texture on the outside while holding the moist chewiness of the inside, and the cheese is perfectly greased,” Willoughby said. “The pairing of the thick chewy crust with greasy cheese, the proportions give it the upper hand over the others.”
Pizza Hut came third with 18 percent vote.
“My personal feelings are in favor of Pizza Hut,” said Molina. “The delectable flavors of their pizza pie far exceed your average.”
He also admits he’s influenced by branding.
Cottage Inn finished last with 12 percent.
“I don’t know how Cottage Inn manages to stay in business because there is never anyone in there,” Panabaker said.
Despite student propensity to complain about SAGA food, the majority of responders said that they preferred SAGA amounts of sauce and cheese and thickness of crust. Nearly 70 percent said $15 was the most they were willing to spend on pizza and delivery. A slightly greater number of students, 34 percent, believe pizza should arrive in 25 minutes compared to the 30 percent that believe 30 minutes is a good time frame and the 30 percent that believe 20 minutes is proper.
When a student’s stomach is on a hunger strike, the cafeteria isn’t open for hours, and they really want pizza, now an informed decision can be made.
The ideal pizza can be thought of, with its ideal price frame and delivery time, and the provider that most closely aligns with that ideal can be found. Or, depending on if you like to go with the opinion of the majority or are a reactionary and always pick the little guy, peer pressure can aid the decision making process. There is a pizza war. Whose side are you on?