One of the unique features Papa John's has had from the start is their pepperoncinis. You can always find one of these pickly green peppers inside of every one of their pizza boxes. For those of you wondering why that is the case, we now have an answer.
In an interview with Thrillist, Papa John's Chief Ingredient Officer, Sean Muldoon, attributed the pepperoncini tradition to when the pizza brand's founder was a dishwasher in Indiana. The local pub that John Schattner, later to be Papa John, worked at in his early days served a pepper with every pizza. Apparently, it's a pretty common thing to have one with every pizza in central Indiana, and Papa John brought that tradition to his father's pub when he started making his own pies. From there, the Papa John's pepperoncini custom came to life.
Today, Papa John's sources all of their pepperoncinis from Turkey, and is responsible for about 25% of the business there. At one point, when the pizza chain went through a major expansion in the 1990s, they actually caused a shortage of these vegetables in Turkey. Today, however, they are still the only major pizza chain to offer the combo.
For those of you that often neglect this humble pepper, give it a try with your pizza next time. Muldoon recommends taking off the end and spreading the pepper juices around the pizza for an even distribution of heat. That's definitely a method I'm gonna try the next time I order pizza.