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Pizza places offering, testing whole-grain crusts

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, Nov. 29, 2013, at 12 a.m.

The skinny on Pizza Hut’s whole grain crust

Along with some colleagues in the Wichita Eagle newsroom, I recently sampled the whole-grain crust Pizza Hut is testing out in the Wichita market. It’s available now through Dec. 21 at local stores.

Opinions were mixed but mostly favorable. Though the crust has a surprising sweet initial flavor and after-taste, I thought it was good. The texture was nice and chewy, and although it definitely wasn’t as decadent as the original crust, it was a perfectly good vehicle for the beef, mushrooms and cheese that topped it.

As someone who’s always looking for ways to get more fiber in my 8-year-old’s diet, I would consider ordering the crust now and then if it became a permanent menu option.

Denise Neil

One might argue that if you’re going to eat a pizza, you should really eat a pizza – thick crust, lots of cheese, all the greasy meats.

But for those with enough discipline to invite a few healthier habits to their pizza parties, several local restaurants are offering alternatives.

Wheat pizza crusts made with whole grains are not a new invention. But a couple of locals have added them to their list of options recently.

Pizza Hut, one of the country’s largest pizza chains, is test-marketing its new whole-grain crust exclusively in Wichita to see if it could work on a national level, said Kym Money, a spokeswoman for Fugate Enterprises, which owns all the local Pizza Hut franchises.

Earlier this year, in response to new federal school lunch guidelines, Pizza Hut created a 51-percent whole-wheat pizza crust that contains 18 grams of whole grains and three grams of fiber in each slice.

Pizza made on the crust, which has earned approval from the Whole Grains Council, meets the guidelines, as long as it’s topped with reduced-fat cheese and low-sodium, low-fat pepperoni.

USD 259 students have been lunching on the new invention for months now.

But the owners of Fugate Enterprises decided that the crust might be popular with health-conscious grownups, too. Earlier this month, the franchise began including the whole-grain crust as an option at its restaurants. Pizzas made on the crust cost an extra $1, and they’re topped with the standard toppings stocked in the restaurants – not the school’s low-sodium and low-fat versions.

Pizza Hut will continue to test the crust in Wichita through Dec. 21.

Wichita Pizza Co., a restaurant at 1520 S. Webb Road owned by Lisa Hutton and her son, Drew, also has just introduced a whole-wheat crust. Drew Hutton, a health nut, loves the taste of the restaurant’s original crust but said he wanted something he could eat without guilt.

He formulated a crust made from 100 percent whole-ground wheat and added it to the menu a couple of weeks ago.

Customers can order any of the restaurant’s pizzas on the new crust, which Drew Hutton said is delicious.

“Anybody that I’ve let try it has said, ‘Wow, that’s the best whole-wheat crust I’ve ever tried,’ ” he said. “It has the same seasoning as the original crust, it’s just made with whole wheat flower and real butter instead of shortening.”

Wichita’s Pacific Coast Pizza at 7713 E. 37th St. North also has a whole-wheat crust option, and Public at the Brickyard, 129 N. Rock Island, has a couple of pies made on honey wheat dough.

Papa John’s also has an approved wheat crust in the schools and is testing it in other markets across the country.

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