Earlier this month, I came across yet another study that found a link between “highly processed food” and, to borrow a phrase from NBC News, “a greater risk of cancer and death.” Included among the foods that are considered “ultra-processed” are microwaveable dinners, which is slightly concerning because they may comprise up to 100 percent of my meals on a very bad day (I usually skip breakfast).
While some frozen staples may be worth the increased mortality risk — Taiwanese scallion pancakes, Trader Joe’s chana masala — others I could probably live without. For instance, Totino’s pizza rolls, which are never quite as good as I remember them being. I seem to relearn this fact on an annual basis, when nostalgia and a lack of cooking motivation combine in one terrible urge. Eventually, I arrive at the same conclusion every time: The sauce is flavorless, the cheese tastes a little weird, and the outside shell is either too hard and prone to discoloration (when cooked in the oven, as depicted in the above photo) or too soft (when heated in the microwave, which is still my preferred method). Is it quick, is it convenient, can it be eaten mindlessly while watching TV? Yes and yes and yes, which does make pizza rolls the quintessential frozen food. But I almost always wish I were eating something else, which says a lot, even when death isn’t on my mind. 2.5/5 stars.