Posted by Tasha on December 3rd, 2010 in Food
The other night I woke up with a start. I’d had a recurring dream – a delicious, buttery, cheesy dream.
These dreams come around at about this time every year. Coincidentally, an appetizer dish appears on the menu at Tulsa-based Mazzio’s Italian Eatery at about this time every year, too.
I’m talking about – ready? – Pepperollies.
If you’ve never had Pepperollie’s, let me explain: They’re basically slices of pepperoni pizza in cinnamon roll form. They’re crispy on the outside, soft on the inside and cheesy and buttery and garlicky all over.
That they’re only available during the holidays is cruel, really. But the anticipation is sweet, and over the course of 365 days, it builds to a fever pitch.
My first job ever was as a Mazzio’s call center rep. Know that lady who answers the phone when you call 664-4444? About 10 years ago, that was me.
I’m not sure if it’s the same today, but back when I was a Mazzio’s minion, employees used to get a pretty nice deal on the food. That’s how my Pepperollies addiction began – with the promise of a discount, late-night snack.
Now every Christmas I get together with my little sister, the first of many of my Pepperollies converts, to wolf down a dozen or so of these babies.
One of the fun things about eating a food item for that many years with another person is that the two of you begin to develop a jargon, a way to talk about the food in a way that just you and that individual understand.
Like when I say, “Hey, sis, don’t hog the beauty queens,” it’s because she’s got her mits on too many of these:
A beauty queen is the perfect Pepperolli. It’s form is perfectly circular, its height is delightfully average and the toast on the crust is a dreamy golden-brown.
Plus, the cheese is bubbly. And crusty.
And everyone knows I like my cheese like I like my men – bubbly and crusty. Ain’t that right, honey?
My husband is nodding. Trust me.
Then there’s the Conan O’Brien. The Conan O’Brien is a dastardly handsome Pepperollie with some serious height.
This is the pincher. A pincher Pepperollie is what happens when someone squeezes the Charmin, so to speak.
The upshot? It’s perfect for dipping, and the shape helps to maximize the Pepperollie-to-mouth ratio.
But no matter what their shape, they all taste the same: Delicious.
I decided that this would be the year I’d introduce my beloved Pepperollies to my son.
He’s pretty much the pickiest eater on the planet. This kid has refused to eat a vegetable that’s not a fried potato of some sort since his pureed baby food days. He hates spaghetti, the most kid-friendly food ever unless you’re counting chicken nuggets, which I most certainly am not.
All this kid really wants to eat are dry Frosted Mini Wheats, black grapes and apple skin. No, really – he eats just the skin off of apples. He says the rest is yucky.
And he’s the most regular two-year-old on the face of the planet, but I digress.
I was nervous about introducing him to Pepperollies, is what I’m getting at.
The kid ate three.
Three whole Pepperollies.
I’m pretty sure they were a hit.
Mazzio’s has a long history here in Tulsa. Here’s how it goes: A guy named Ken Selby opened a place called The Pizza Parlor in 1961. He opened a second location in ’65 and changed the name to Ken’s Pizza. Ten years later Ken’s had become a 100-store chain here in Oklahoma. By 1979, Ken decided to build a restaurant around more casual dining space and a menu expanded from what he had available at Ken’s. He decided to call it Mazzios.
Now there are 166 Mazzios locations in 10 states.
While that’s a business of considerable size, in the grand scheme of things, it still means that Pepperolies are pretty exclusive little bites of awesome.
And everyone knows that they taste their very best right here, in their city of origin. Especially me, your blogging friend, loser of retainers and certifiable Pepperollie addict.