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Mama Cozzi’s Cheeseburger Take and Bake Pizza (Aldi)

Whoa, my old age is really starting to rear its ugly head more and more often. Take, for example, this cheeseburger take and bake pizza, which quite literally had me at the name and nothing more. I just assumed, as is normally the case with things like this, that it would just be some cheese, some hamburger meat, maybe some onions, and that would be that. So sure of myself was I that I never even thought to double-check the ingredients—I got it in my mind that I wanted it, picked it up without reading the box, and took it home.

It wasn’t until my wife read the box, a look of shock and confusion across her face, that I began to second-guess myself. What could be so weird about a cheeseburger pizza? Then I read the ingredients, and what I found simultaneously disgusted and delighted me. This isn’t just some hamburger meat and cheese thrown on a typical pizza sauce like so many other purported cheeseburger pizzas turn out to be. No, this one is only missing some lettuce in terms of being a literal cheeseburger. You have the obligatory crumbled hamburger patties, along with cheddar and mozzarella. Then some onions, and tomatoes, nothing out of the ordinary so far. But this is where things start to get a little bizarre: there are whole pickle slices across the damned thing. And as if that wasn’t enough to make you think twice, the pizza sauce is replaced with a “ketchup mustard sauce”. Holy mother of God, what did I get myself into?

The ensuing dinner became one of the most divisive meals I’ve ever had in my life, and I’m just talking about from within myself. On the one hand, everything comes together way better than you would ever have expected, but on the other hand, there are just some things that shouldn’t taste like a cheeseburger. And a pizza would probably be one of them. I can’t recall another time when I dreaded and anticipated the next bite in equal measure…even now as I remember the two slices remaining from last night (when only two slices remain, something can’t be all bad), my stomach simultaneously turns as my mouth waters. It’s a pretty off-kilter experience.

I think the main reason for this is the ridiculous richness of the ketchup/mustard sauce, which tastes like a mix of lots of ketchup and lots of mustard. The sweet/savory combination of the two leads to an overwhelming of the tastebuds, which then leads to fatigue, and then eventual tastebud collapse. If this were toned down just a bit, I think we’d be looking at a grade-A supermarket pizza, but it’s so potent that just thinking about taking a bite makes my stomach a little queasy (though it doesn’t stop me from eventually digging in).

As a testament to the harmony of the rest of the ingredients, the pickles somehow go really well with everything else…my wife and I both vowed to take them off of the pizza at first (a curious notion given my wife’s love of anything pickle), but we ended up eating all of them. The hamburger crumbles and cheese work as well as you would expect, while the tomatoes and onions merely get lost in the flavor overload of everything else…I completely forgot they were even in there. And if onions are getting overpowered, then what does that say about the strength of the remaining ingredients, for goodness sakes?

If you’re in an adventurous mood, it doesn’t get much weirder than this, so I urge you to check it out. But if you’re just looking for a delicious, straightforward pizza, then stay far away from this one. Even after polishing off the rest the next day, I’m still torn about what I think of it, something that I can’t recall ever happening to me. It’s something that really shouldn’t exist, but it does, and those are about my only clear thoughts on the matter.

Overall: 5/10. Even after eating this whole pizza (with my wife, over a span of two days), I’m almost completely unsure as to what I think about it. On the one hand, it’s not nearly as disgusting as it sounds, and all the ingredients go really well together; on the other hand, the sauce is ridiculously rich and tastes like globs of ketchup mixed with globs of mustard, and the combination becomes rather overwhelming in a hurry. It’s the perfect pizza for someone who feels like they’ve tried it all, but it’s not really something that I would seek out…it’s basically heartburn and an upset stomach waiting to happen. If you do take the plunge, just make sure you have loads of antacids on hand, for the next week or so.

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