We had a couple friends up the street come down for a pepperoni taste test in the context of a pizza. I did the same assembly and bake on each of the 4 pies. The sole exception being the pepperoni used. The options were:
Hormel in big stick http://www.pennmac.com/items/356//hormel-long-pepperoni-stick
The standard grocery store bag of Hormel pepperoni.
And the outcome.
Ezzo - The winner if counting 1st place votes. Two of us recalled our north eastern heritage right away.
Hormel Big Stick: Meatier, middle of road spice. This got most 2nd place votes.
Margherita: This one perplexed me. It will be on my next bake. I need to taste it again. I gave it high scores for a classic taste, but I thought it to be not quite spicy enough. It was 2nd for 1st place votes, but I might change my mind. it was much smaller in diameter and I probably did not use enough.
Hormel Grocery Store: The former #1 has fallen. Salty and missing that spicy, meaty flavor that made the other 3 pop put. Clear-cut last place.
It's fair to say that the pepperoni bar changing here. There was always a hint of a classic flavor with the grocery store Hormel for me, but it was clearly missing when we got to it. I think a universal, "but this pizza is somehow is still great" followed. The missing flavor could best be described as a spicy, sausage flavor. A flavor you'd expect out of a dry sausage. Perhaps that aspect was toned down for the grocery store version to satisfy the masses?
One question for anyone watching. Is the Hormel Rosa Pepperoni available anywhere, or is that a name that's not used anymore? It was not on the stick that I got, but the rest of the package looked similar.