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Papa Johns debuts new 'Game of Thrones'–inspired pizza as sales slow

·Senior Reporter
·2 min read

Papa Johns (PZZA) is getting extra spicy.

The pizza chain officially debuted its hottest pizza to date — the new "Dragon Flame Pizza" — in honor of the upcoming "Game of Thrones" prequel "House of the Dragon."

The spicy concoction, hand-tossed in Papa Johns' signature pizza sauce, is topped with sriracha dry spice, smoked pulled chicken, Italian sausage, fresh green peppers, melty cheese, and Fresno chilies. The final pie is dusted with red chili and garlic crunch.

To celebrate the new menu addition, Papa Johns will be holding a one-day only pop-up event at King’s Landing Park in Apopka, Florida (just outside of Orlando). The event kicks off August 21 at 11 a.m. ET.

Following the pop-up event, the pizza will be available as a limited-time offering in one select city on October 23. Papa Johns is asking customers and fans to tweet @PapaJohns (#DragonFlame) to nominate which city the brand should bring the product to next.

Papa Johns' Dragon Flame Pizza (Courtesy: Papa Johns)
Papa Johns' Dragon Flame Pizza (Courtesy: Papa Johns)

Papa Johns has leaned on new product innovation amid sky-high inflation and a general slowdown in sales.

The brand most recently unveiled its highly debated "Papa Bowls" — a crustless bowl of pizza ingredients that includes cheese, sauce, veggies and meat.

Papa Johns' North American sales struggled in its most recent quarter, growing just under 1% compared to the 5% the company reported in Q2 2021. The results also represented a significant plummet compared to the second quarter of 2020 when domestic sales jumped 28%.

"Like companies across our industry and the global economy, we are experiencing high inflation coupled with lapping economic stimulus a year ago," Papa Johns President and CEO Rob Lynch said in a press release, adding that the brand "expects these headwinds to persist into the second half of 2022."

To offset higher food and labor costs, Papa Johns increased menu prices by about 7% to 8% systemwide since the start of the year.

The chain has also heavily relied on its rewards program and other types of promotions to target more price-sensitive consumers.

"Unlike most of the QSR industry, where ticket growth over the past couple of years has largely come from pricing, Papa Johns ticket growth has predominantly come through new premium products and add-ons," Lynch said during the earnings call.

"This has afforded us more room to strategically raise prices in this inflationary environment...Overall, I feel we are in a good spot today and well positioned to sustainably grow ticket and transactions through innovation while using our pricing power to manage margins over the long term," the executive continued.

Papa Johns stock is down 30% year-to-date.

Alexandra is a Senior Entertainment and Food Reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alliecanal8193 and email her at alexandra.canal@yahoofinance.com

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