Papa John's pizza fans can now say "bonjour" to the "The Cheesy Chicken Cordon Bleu" -- the winning pizza in Papa's Specialty Pizza Challenge. Created by Barbara Hyman of Los Angeles, Calif., the rendition of the classic dish struck a chord with Papa John's customers, representing 45 percent of the more than 240,000 Specialty Pizza Challenge pizzas sold in the month of August.
As the creator of the winning pizza, Hyman will receive a "slice of the sales" (up to $10,000), free Papa John's pizza for life and the opportunity to appear in a "Papa's In The House" television commercial. The Cheesy Chicken Cordon Bleu features Papa John's original crust and spinach Alfredo sauce, topped with grilled all white-chicken, ham, fresh-sliced onions and extra mozzarella, Asiago, provolone and Fontina cheeses. It will be available on the Papa John's menu for one year.
"Papa's Specialty Pizza Challenge offered a unique opportunity for our customers to have a hand in shaping our menu," said Andrew Varga, Papa John's CMO. "This innovative contest driven by Facebook entries, the marketing ingenuity of the three finalists and ultimately the number of pizza sales, demonstrates that people love our pizza and will support it in a number of different ways."
Papa John's received more than 12,000 entries via Facebook in the Papa's Specialty Pizza Challenge, which were narrowed down to three finalists in June by a panel of judges that included the Food Network's Ted Allen and Rich Eisen of the NFL Network. On August 2, Papa John's put the three pizzas on its menu, and the three finalists traveled to Papa John's headquarters in Louisville to tour the facility and prepare their pizzas for the company's corporate staff.
Each finalist was given a $1,000 marketing budget to promote their pizza. Hyman spent her dough on local promotions and a Facebook page. In addition, Hyman announced that if she won the contest, she would donate a portion of her winnings to the National Wildlife Federation in hopes of playing a part in the relief efforts for the gulf oil spill.
"It is incredibly exciting to create a pizza that may be featured on Papa John's menu," Hyman said. "The Cheesy Chicken Cordon Bleu pizza was born on a grocery shopping trip with my daughter. I wanted to create a spin on an old favorite recipe that my mother used to make. We're amazed at how much Papa John's pizza fans around the country loved the pizza, too."
The other two finalists, Blair Dial of Springfield, Ill., who created the "The Big Bonanza" and Kendra Chapman of Ball Ground, Ga., who entered "The Workin' Fire," received free pizza for a year as semi-finalists.