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Posted on Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 10:45 a.m.

Ann Arbor's Domino's Pizza changes core pizza recipe

By Nathan Bomey

Ann Arbor-based Domino's Pizza is fundamentally altering its core pizza recipe, a bold but risky move meant to position the chain to navigate the competitive terrain of the dining industry.

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Domino's Pizza is fundamentally altering its core pizza recipe.

"This is not a slight tweak. We changed everything on our pizza from the crust up," Domino's USA President J. Patrick Doyle told "We changed the crust, we changed the sauce, we changed the cheese."

The new pizza is already available at the chain's Ann Arbor stores. The pizza - which is available nationwide starting Dec. 27, just before the end of its fiscal year on Dec. 28 - reflects several key changes:

• A "garlic seasoned crust with parsley baked to a golden brown," the company said.

• A "sweeter, bolder tomato sauce with a medley of herbs and a red pepper kick." Doyle said the new sauce has 40 percent more herbs.

• Mozzarella cheese "flavored with just a hint of provolone." It'll be shredded instead of diced.

The reinvention of its core pizza recipe comes as Domino's [NYSE: DPZ] approaches its 50th anniversary in 2010.

The new pizza is sure to be met with intense scrutiny by consumers and pizza aficionados alike. Domino's said that it would simultaneously launch a major marketing campaign that would seek to counteract the "negative perceptions of some consumers nationwide" about Domino's main product.

Doyle said the company conducted extensive consumer testing to ensure that the product was high quality. The firm also monitored social media Web sites and influential bloggers to tailor changes.

"I'm excited, not nervous," he said. "We have done an unbelievable amount of consumer research over the past 2 years."

Doyle said Domino's research showed that the percentage of consumers who said they would "definitely purchase this pizza in the future" improved 25 percent with the new product.

"That's a landslide in the market research world," he said. "It's unheard of. We're absolutely convinced we've got it right."

To incentivize consumers to give the new pizza a try, the company plans to offer a special deal when it's introduced: 2 medium, 2-topping pizzas for $5.99 apiece.

Domino's spent 2 years testing "dozens of cheeses, 15 sauces, and nearly 50 crust seasoning blends and researched every possible combination with customers who order from us all the time and customers who haven't tried us in years," Chief Marketing Officer Russell Weiner said in a statement.

Reinventing a core product comes with significant risk.

"To us, it's as big as McDonald's changing the Big Mac, or Burger King reinventing the Whopper," Weiner said.

Doyle said Domino's understood that some consumers would react negatively to change.

"There are people who really liked the old product," he said. "We just looked at it, though, and said, 'We don't have enough people who loved the pizza and we've got to get it there.' We said as a simple goal, 'We're going to have the best pizza in the industry.' That was the standard."

In the last 2 weeks, Domino's has spent 200,000 hours retraining workers at all 5,000 of its U.S. stores.

Domino's CEO David Brandon said in a statement that the new pizza marks the firm's "biggest product introduction we've done since...well, pizza."

Domino's operates about 8,886 corporate and franchised stores, and it employs about 10,500 full-time workers. With stock selling at $7.82 per share this morning, its market capitalization is about $457 million. In the third quarter, Domino's same-store sales were relatively flat as the company's profit rose from $10.1 million in the third quarter of 2008 to $17.8 million.

Contact’s Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter.



Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 2:41 p.m.

"To "incentivize" consumers..."?


Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 10:16 p.m.

Yes, I also agree that Dominos should go back to Tom Monahans original pizza recipe. I remember eating a slice from his restaurant on Cross Street in Ypsilanti in the early 60s. Man, that was the greatest.


Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 5 p.m.

I agree with Atticus... go BACK to the original recipie that Tom Monighan used at his ORIGINAL Pizza shop on Cross Street. It hasn't been the same since he left the helm.

Nathan Bomey

Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 4:51 p.m.

Domino's has about 10,500 full-time employees, according to Yahoo Finance. The company has not recently said how many number of part-time employees it has.


Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 4:43 p.m.

Most stores by far are franchies I think maybe a decimal is missplaced


Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 4:31 p.m.

The story says that Dominoes has 8886 stores, and about 10,500 employees. The math doesn't add up. That means there are an average of just over one employee per store. Hmmmmm seems like a bunch of overworked dough twirlers. A2 dot com should verify that.

Captain Magnificent

Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 3:37 p.m.

I like Pizza a lot!


Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 3:37 p.m.

This is the best thread seen in a long time. no name calling, no politics,nothing nasty or mean.Its as refreshing as...a slice of pizza and an icy cold Coke


Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 3:13 p.m.

I think the best pizza is Mancino's on Zeeb Rd. Oh yeah!


Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 2:47 p.m.

Best pizza in Ann Arbor is Bell's and Anthony's Gourmet.


Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 2:33 p.m.

They should have done this years ago. In my opinion, their pizza is awful (maybe even worse than Little Caesar's at twice the price). To me, sauce is the key. My favorites chain-wise are Hungry Howie's, Papa John's, Jet's, and Papa Romano's. However, a homemade pizza with homemade sauce beats any pizza any time.


Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 2:32 p.m.

I was a Cottage Inn eater throughtout school at UofM and my family is Cottage Inn people but lately it has lost something. The cheese or sauce has to be different. I am going to give Domino's another shot but love the Cottage Inn buffet near Olive Garden.


Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 2:30 p.m.

Had the new recipe a couple of days ago and really liked it...actually thought I'd gotten a trainee's pizza who was overdoing the cheese,etc. Though I'd lucked out. Glad to know this is a regular change...tasted much, much better! Thanks.


Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 2:26 p.m.

I have always liked Dominos even when the pizza started to taste more processed. It is not my favorite but it never really tasted all that different so throughout the years I continued to order from them. I have to say I tried the new pizza the other night ans was not impressed. The crust is alright but the garlic seasoning is awful!!!!!! It was too overpowering and left a bad taste in my mouth until the following morning, even after brushing my teeth twice to get rid of the garlic taste! I don't mind a little bit of garlic but the old flavor was way better than what they are trying to pass off now. They need to go back to all fresh ingredients and stick with what put them on the map in the first place!


Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 1:26 p.m.

Go back to flour and lose the corn meal on the bottom of the pizza's crust


Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 1:22 p.m.

In the 80's, the pizza was very good. Like someone above mentioned, somewhere in the late 80's, maybe 1990, the pizza crust started to taste like cardboard. Good thing they changed the crust. Not sure about changing the sauce, but good luck. They should go back to the 80's crust and things will turn around for them. And while they are changing things, maybe they can quit skimping on the toppings.


Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 1:21 p.m.

I walked into the South Main Domino's for a couple of pizzas on Monday. The guy asked if garlic crust was OK--I assumed they'd just made a mistake and wasn't going to ask him to redo it for 5.99. We didn't know it was a new recipe. My husband said, "The pizza is actually good tonight." The sauce didn't seem too sweet. A half testimonial? It's not gourmet, but it is what it is.


Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 1:20 p.m.

Domino's has changed almost everything before and everytime it was to save money not to better the product. Fresh cheese to frozen, pizza sauce from a can to paste that has to be reconstituted in the store (hence the watery taste), dough recipe was changed several times, and many of the toppings that were fresh are now precooked. I too remember Domino's when it was the BEST but it has not been that way for over 20 years. I truly doubt that this pizza will be an improvement over the current but I'm pretty sure the ingredients are less expensive. Brandon and Co. need the profits to keep their big bonuses rolling in!!!!

Macabre Sunset

Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 12:44 p.m.

I remember Dominos from the '70s. It was very good, convenient, well-priced. I was very surprised when I moved out of state and it tasted like pizza-flavored cardboard. Got me out of the habit entirely. So any change is a welcome change, as Dominos isn't even on my cell right now.


Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 12:07 p.m.

When you are the biggest, why chase #2? I'm sure PJ will be watching intently...


Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 12:04 p.m.

Domino's had the best pizza around in the 60's and 70's and then they went downhill. We tried them again in the 90's and haven't had one of their pizza's since. Don't think we'll try the new one either if it's got a hint of heat in the sauce. More and more restaurants are adding heat to their dishes but not everyone likes "heat" in their food.


Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 11:54 a.m.

I agree with the comments on the sauce, but bring it on!


Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 11:51 a.m.

Loved their pizza when i was a kid, can't stand it now. don't know what they changed or when. But I will give them another chance, after the 28th.


Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 11:47 a.m.

Sweeter sauce = BAD. Not looking forrward to that.


Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 11:44 a.m.

Haven't eaten Dominoes in years but this will get me to order a pie, good job!


Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 11:41 a.m.

In terms of the chain, mass-marketed delivery pizza sector, I think Domino's is some of the best. Every time I have ordered it recently though, the quality has been underimpressive. I think they will benefit from a new concept, but changing the sauce will likely go down as a mistake.


Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 11:39 a.m.

Hrmm, hopefully this is not a repeat of the New Coke. I look forward to trying it...

Atticus F.

Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 11:09 a.m.

We ordered Dominos every friday when I was a kid. Then years back they changed their cheese to what I suspected to be frozen, which has more of a gooey texture, as apposed to a chewey texture. I haven't ordered since!!!! My recomendation would be to keep the same recipe for sauce (which was unbeatable in my oppinion)And scrap the Icky cheese product, and that would bring me back as a customer. In other words bring back the same recipe as when Dominos was in its hayday.


Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 11:01 a.m.

Sounds good, I wouldn't mind trying it with a nice cold glass of "New Coke"