So, you were driving home after a long, hard day, your stomach grumbling like an old truck, and a flashy sign of a gas station beckoned you from the side of the highway. Out of all the culinary adventures you've braved, surely "gas station gourmet" is a new one. "Why not?" you thought, looking skeptically at the glowing words, "Racetrac Pizza."
And you, a brave soul - tired, hungry, and just a bit desperate - decided to make a pit stop at this gastronomical enigma, perhaps egged on by a morbid curiosity or a sense of culinary daredevilry that makes Dave Portnoy look like a fussy toddler. What could possibly go wrong, right? Well, buckle up and hold on to your pepperonis, because here's my sizzling take on their pizza.
Fast Lane to Flavor: A Brief History of Racetrac
Racetrac, if you can believe it, didn't start its life with the tantalizing aroma of baking pizza wafting from every corner. No, like all good things, it had a humble beginning. Founded as an oil company in 1934 by Carl Bolch Sr., Racetrac began its journey in St. Louis, Missouri. It wasn't until Carl Jr. took the reins in the 1960s that Racetrac transitioned into the gas station-convenience store model, with frozen pizza making a debut much later.
Over the years, the company has grown exponentially, even dabbling in private-label products (ever had their Crazy Good! energy drinks? And don't even get me started on their Nuts & Bolts hardware). But today, we're not interested in their caffeinated concoctions or the surprisingly robust selection of lightbulbs; we're here for the dough, the sauce, the cheese - the Racetrac pizza.
Mapping Your Pizza Pit Stops: Where to Find a Racetrac
Wondering where these pizza-touting pit stops might be scattered across the United States? At present, you can find Racetrac's glowing neon invitation in twelve states: Georgia, Florida, Texas, and Louisiana being the big players. But they've also staked their claim in more surprising locations like Missouri, where the entire Racetrac saga began. So, whether you're cruising down the sun-drenched Florida Keys or maneuvering the hustle and bustle of Atlanta's traffic, you'll be able to answer your pizza craving.
My taste test was done within the large and fairly humid confines of Grapevine, Texas...where the gas only emptied HALF my wallet as opposed to the bank-account sucking California or New York, for example.
The Gas Station Pizza Showdown...Verdict: Racetrac Reigns Supreme
Now, to address the elephant in the room - or should we say, the pizza in the gas station. How does Racetrac fare against its petrol-pumping counterparts? Well, dear reader, prepare for a surprise. You see, in the realm of gas station pizzas, Racetrac doesn't just hold its own; it takes the trophy and the laurels.
While a gas station isn't the first place you'd think of for a pizza face-off, it's fast becoming a battlefield of bubbling cheese and tangy tomato sauce. Competitors at stores like QuickTrip and Speedway have tossed their dough into the ring, but none can quite match the culinary triumph of Racetrac.
Consider the crust. With Racetrac, you get that desirable mix of chewy and crispy (mostly chewy) that lesser gas station pies can only dream of. Their toppings are fresh, the cheese doesn't taste like a plastic prop, and the sauce has a tangy bite that could make even a hardened New Yorker do a double-take...maybe.
Is it Michelin-star material? Absolutely not. But for a pit stop on your road trip, it's a slice of the divine. It's like comparing a reliable sedan to a race car: both can get you from A to B, but the Racetrac does it with more style, more flavor, and an element of surprise that the race car might lack.
So there you have it - a seemingly strange culinary twist that manages to not just meet but surpass our expectations. We came, we saw, we tasted, and Racetrac is currently the reigning champion in the world of gas station gastronomy. Who knew?
[Images taken by the greasy hands of Kenneth Holland]