Frozen pizzas -- once the quick dinner of last resort -- have increasingly become gourmet items, with new premium lines being added to store shelves each year. Chicago-based Home Run Inn Pizza has led in this movement, translating its Chicago-area pizzeria flavors and quality to its frozen pizza counterparts in grocery stores.
While making pizzas that are great right out of the box has been the key to Home Run Inn's success (they are the top frozen pizza brand in the Chicago market), the staff also learned quickly that pizza fans have been customizing Home Run Inn frozen pizzas to suit their tastes, needs and whims.
"We began to gather recipes and publish some of the best," said Gina Bolger, Home Run Inn's director of marketing. "Many were really creative, fun and really, really tasty. We knew that there had to be many more great recipes out there for people to share."
So Home Run Inn executives hired Oakbrook Terrace-based Xeno Media to design and develop an all-new, fully-customized social media platform for fans to share and rate recipes online. Dozens of recipes, including gourmet specialties such as Creamy Alfredo Chicken Pizza and the "Kid Approved" Mona Lizza Pizza, have been submitted to www.homeruninnrecipes.com.
The site is off to a good start: It's only been live since April 12, and 50 recipes have already been submitted, according to Angela Ginex, Home Run Inn's assistant director of marketing.
"Since this is really a first-of-its-kind project, we don't know what sort of traffic to expect in the long run," said Ginex. "We anticipate many of our over 13,000 Facebook fans will become involved, as well as our database customers. We hope the site will become a forum for people to share their favorite Home Run Inn pizza topping recipes."
The recipes range from "Gourmet" – "Surf's Up" adds crabmeat, shrimp and horseradish to a Home Run Inn's classic frozen cheese pizza – to "Quick & Easy," like the BLT recipe with obvious additions of bacon, lettuce and tomato.
"Home Run Inn does a great job with social media overall," said Xeno Media principal Kevin Munday. "They have over 13,000 fans on Facebook and hundreds of followers on Twitter. Most importantly, they use these tools to really engage their best customers. We developed (the microsite) to enhance and complement those efforts, within a fully-custom environment."