Pizza for Astronauts: Exploring Planet Chorizo With Papa Johns

  • Papa Johns has launched the first-ever “space-flavored” pizza, hailing it as a “giant leap for mankind.”
  • The chain’s new range of menu items was inspired by chorizo’s fame as the world’s furthest-traveled sausage.

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What does outer space taste like? Think chorizo sausage. At least, that’s what Papa Johns says about its new range of “space-flavored” pizza and other menu items, which represent “a giant leap for mankind,” according to the chain.

Inspired by chorizo’s fame as the world’s furthest-traveled sausage—Spanish astronaut Pedro Duque took it into space with him in 1998—the new Planet Chorizo range combines chorizo’s flavors with Papa Johns’ signature pizzas, Papadias and rolls.

The Planet Chorizo range includes new pies like the Planet Chorizo, Chorizo Orbit with Olive & Onion, and Cosmic Chorizo Chicken as well as a Cosmic Chorizo Chicken Papadia and Chorizo Space Rolls for side orders.

Dr Chris Welch, the former vice-president of the International Aeronautical Federation, analyzed the composition of the new range and “uncovered the striking similarities between the tastes, textures and appearance of chorizo and space,” Papa Johns said in a press release.

“Spicy flavors like chorizo have long been a favorite space food among hungry astronauts, which is why it has enjoyed such a rich space heritage,” Welch said. “But, surprisingly, as recent evidence has revealed, its flavors and distinct aromas could really be considered out of this world—with traces of the same aromatic compound thought to be found in both space and chorizo.”

Welch elaborates on the outer space-chorizo connections:

  • Jupiter’s extreme temperatures—we’re talking 35,000 degrees Celsius—create epic solar cyclones, such as the Great Red Spot, which look just like a piece of chorizo, according to Welch.
  • In 2016, when the NASA Juno spacecraft orbited Jupiter, it discovered that the planet bears a striking resemblance to a chorizo-topped pizza, Welch maintains.
  • Welch says there is evidence that the same carbon compounds produced during the drying process of paprika—used to give chorizo its classic red hue—may also be found in space. That could explain why astronauts often smell grilled meats after a spacewalk, he says.
  • The effects of microgravity in space dulls astronauts’ sense of taste, so they often crave spicy flavor-packed foods—and that may be why Duque took a chorizo with him to space.