Indiana-born pizza impresario and rumored Bonzi Wells associate Papa “John” Schnatter is an American success story. In the conventional sense, all the (ahem) ingredients are there for a completely conventional American Dream Fulfilled narrative, and Schnatter indeed talks about them a lot—you can read about the Camaro he sold to save his father’s failing tavern and set up his first pizzeria right there on his website. But the sense in which Schnatter most truly and inspiringly embodies America’s promise is this: he has become kind of queasily famous and extremely, extremely rich for doing something that he’s not even good at. The man has made untold millions of dollars, and his name is on more than 5,000 pizzerias in 45 countries, and yet the pizzas he sells taste like unusually salty upholstery. Eating a Papa John’s slice is like chomping down on a piece of oil-flavored chewing gum but somehow much worse for your breath. It’s pizza that tastes the way long-distance bus travel feels.
It’s pizza that tastes the way long-distance bus travel feels.