I do not see anything fundamentally wrong with the PJ dough formulation, although I can understand and appreciate that some people will not like a dough/crust and/or a pizza sauce with a lot of sugar. My quibbles with the PJ pizzas as sold commercially have always been in two areas.
First, is the cheese. At PJ's website, this is what PJ says about the cheese:If you like cheese, you'll love our signature mozzarella cheese. It's exclusive to Papa John's and crafted from 100% mozzarella and high-quality milk by one of America's finest cheese producers. Mild and delicate, yet full-bodied in flavor, it's proof that cheese really can “make” the pizza!
The above description might lead one to conclude that only 100% mozzarella cheese is used, and is made from high-quality milk, and nothing more. However, as was recently pointed out at Reply 493 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,6758.msg260046/topicseen.html#msg260046
, and also in prior posts dating back several years, the PJ cheese comprises the following ingredients:Cheese: Part-skim mozzarella cheese (pasteurized milk, cultures, salt, enzymes [chymax – NOT animal derived]), modified food starch [derived from corn], powdered cellulose (added to prevent caking), whey protein concentrate, sodium citrate, sodium propionate (added as a preservative). Contains MILK
I am pretty certain that the supplier to PJ of the above cheese product is Leprino Foods, out of Colorado, and a giant in the cheese industry. Leprino will formulate a cheese product in any way that its customers want. Alas, in this case, I think that a freshly shredded mozzarella cheese is a much better option. Unfortunately, PJ is not likely to go that route. With over 4000 stores, it just doesn't fit the PJ business model.
My second quibble has to do with the assembly of pizzas in PJ's stores, at least the one near me. The dough balls aren't always in the optimum state (they are often either underfermented or overfermented) and skins prepared for slam times are often held too long in their racks. And the skins can be docked unmercifully, even in the rim areas. All of these problems can be remedied in a home setting by people who are careful and care about the end product.
As for some of the other items used to make PJ pizzas, the sauce is based on Stanislaus tomato products. For the type of pizza that PJ makes, you really can't do much better than that. Its pepperoni products come from reputable, quality sources. The sauce used by PJ is as follows:Pizza Sauce: Vine-ripened fresh tomatoes, sunflower oil, sugar, salt, spices [oregano, black pepper, basil], garlic*, extra virgin olive oil and citric acid. *Dehydrated No trans fat.
For some, the sauce might be too sweet but that goes with the territory when purchasing PJ pizzas. In a home setting, a clone can be made with less sugar, and using Stanislaus (or Escalon or Classico) products.
So long as people choose to buy PJ pizzas rather than making clones at home that better meet their needs, they will continue to be disappointed in many cases.