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Pizza Rolls® are a frozen food product produced by Totino’s®, a company owned as of 2011 by General Mills®. The rolls are small, bite-size pieces of dough that are filled with a variety of ingredients that generally include the toppings on a pizza, such as cheese and pepperoni. When frozen, the rolls appear rectangular in shape but quickly puff up once cooked. The convenience of being able to cook the rolls directly from a frozen state in an oven, microwave or toaster oven has made them a popular snack food. Homemade versions of Pizza Rolls® can be created using a variety of techniques and premade products, including wonton wrappers and bottled pizza sauce.
The idea for Pizza Rolls® got its start in the 1950s with Jeno Paulucci, a food entrepreneur. The idea came about after Paulucci’s success in selling frozen Chinese dishes in grocery stores. Paulucci essentially took the concept of an egg roll and applied Italian-American flavorings to the dish to create bite-size frozen Pizza Rolls®.
Most commonly, Pizza Rolls® can be found in the frozen food section of grocery stores, packaged in a box that contains roughly 15 rolls, weighing about 7.5 ounces (242 grams). They are intended to be a snack food, so larger bags of the rolls also can be found for use at parties or gatherings. The snack is sold frozen and, unlike some other frozen foods, is intended to remain frozen until it is cooked.
There are a variety of available flavors for Pizza Rolls®. The most basic include pepperoni, cheese, sausage and combinations such as peppers, sausage and cheese. In almost all instances, the rolls contain the main ingredient and a small amount of tomato sauce spiced to taste like the marinara sauce commonly found on some pizzas.
Several methods can be used to prepare Pizza Rolls®. Baking the rolls in an oven for a short time yields rolls that have a crisp exterior. For convenience, the rolls can be cooked quickly in a microwave, producing chewy snacks. Toaster ovens also can be used to make small batches of the food.
The popularity of Pizza Rolls® has led to many homemade recipes that attempt to emulate the simple idea. One basic recipe involves placing fillings such as mozzarella cheese, pizza sauce, pepperoni and Italian spices on a wonton wrapper and sealing the wrapper with water or an egg wash to make a small, triangular package. The individual rolls can then be baked or fried until crisp and heated through.
I have a serious case of brand loyalty to Totino's Pizza Rolls. I've tried other brands of pizza rolls and they almost always come up short compared to the original Totino's. Some of the other brands don't get very crispy, for one thing. The sauce can be a little bland, too, and they don't put enough meat or cheese in them.
I usually buy a larger bag of pizza rolls and keep them on hand for between-meal snacks. If I just microwave four or five pizza rolls, I'm satisfied until the next meal. I also like to deep fry the pizza rolls if I get a chance. Cooking them in the oven is preferable to microwaving, but deep frying is the best of both worlds: fast and crispy.
The one thing I don't like about pizza rolls is that they get about as hot as lava when they first come out of the oven. I hate having to stare at a plate of delicious pizza rolls and wait for them to cool down. I did make the mistake of trying to eat one too soon, however, and I badly burned the roof of my mouth.
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