Slipping DiGiorno’s Croissant Crust Pizza free from its bag, you’ll likely hear the Red Baron cackle as he cruises past in his marinara-splattered fighter plane.

This drab thing, he asks, is the apex of culinary hybridity?

The Baron is right to be dubious.

At first glance, the latest from the mavericks that brought the world such crust-wonders as butter-damp Garlic Bread and balsamic-slick Artisan Thin looks washed-out and gaunt, a spray of anemic pepperoni ringed in a sliver of dough so alien from its namesake as to send Paul Hollywood into paroxysms. Still, into the oven it goes, if only to knock the pesky Baron down a peg or two. As it bakes, the “croissant” crust rises and darkens… then darkens some more as if the Maillard reaction has been bolstered by methamphetamine. Yanked from the oven five minutes early for fear of combustion, the pizza gives off the unsettling aroma of a hot tub opened in August. You soldier on anyway, cutting yourself a goodly slice. You understand, however, as the pizza cracks away beneath your knife, that the “croissant” is not merely confined to the outer rim but forms the pizza’s rigid undergirding. Upon the first bite, the entire structure begins to flake apart in shale-like layers. After the second bite, the top layer shears off completely, molten cheese and blackened pepperonis careening toward your unguarded face.

All the while, the Red Baron jeers from on high, joined in his laughter now by such freezer royalty as smug Chef Tony, the Screamin’ Sicilian mustache-mouth, and that wayward youth Wild Mike.

Hold on, you cry, in a desperate bid for vindication, the flavor is coming!

And so it does, the reassuring tang of tomato and the tender salt rush of cheese-food. Placated by familiarity, you continue, peeling away the faux-lamination so as to consume the pizza in courses: first as a cracker-like app and then as an entrée of congealed toppings. In this way then the DiGiorno innovators have triumphed, crafting two distinct dishes in a single pie, something your reviewer has never witnessed before and hopes, verily, never to encounter again.