Papa John’s Launches Hemp Sticks Appetizer in Select Countries

Limited-edition Hemp Sticks from Papa John’s are on the menu—just not quite yet in the U.S.
Papa John's
Photo courtesy of Papa John’s UK

Shelled hemp seeds—a great source of nutrients and high-quality protein—are on the menu in a new appetizer available at Papa John’s in certain corners of the world. The move continues to show a growing interest in the mainstream restaurant market for the benefits of hemp and hemp seeds as a food source.

Papa John’s is testing limited-edition Hemp Sticks in select restaurants in multiple countries. While the new curiosity isn’t quite yet available in the U.S. and Canada, you can find them now in select restaurants across the U.K. and Russia. Papa John’s UK announced the new product on social media on February 7.

The product launch makes up Papa Johns’ first major product innovation of 2022, as the company promotes its “Better Ingredients. Better Pizza” commitment to food superiority.

“Introducing our all-new and delicious Hemp Sticks,” Papa John’s UK tweeted, “made with delicious cheese and our garlic pizza stick base, topped with Hemp Seeds. Have you tried this superfood yet? Launching today let us know what you think!” A Papa John’s UK representative confirmed the new menu item to High Times.

While few details on Papa John’s new product have been made public, both versions in the U.K. and Russia are a garlic stick sprinkled with shelled hemp seeds, with a slight variation in the recipe.

The Hemp Sticks are made using the brand’s fresh never-frozen, six-ingredient dough, the Russian Hemp Sticks feature the brand’s special garlic sauce and a sprinkle of shelled hemp seeds, while the U.K. recipe swaps out the special garlic sauce for garlic butter sauce and also includes mozzarella.

Why Shelled Hemp Seeds?

Hemp seeds are high in plant protein, vitamins and other nutrients—which is why they’re often described as a superfood.

Sometimes when hemp seeds are used in food, they are deshelled to become hulled hemp seeds, or hemp hearts. The main difference between hemp seeds and hemp hearts is the crunch. Hemp hearts are not crunchy, while hemp seeds with the hulls are used in crunchy snacks.

Shelled hemp seeds in general are becoming more popular as a dietary source of fatty acids and very high quality protein. Hemp seeds are exceptionally rich in two essential fatty acids—linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3).They also contain gamma-linolenic acid, which is believed to provide several health benefits.

But one of the best perks is that hemp seeds are one of the top contenders as a source of protein, since over a quarter of the total calories from them are from high-quality protein—making it more logical as a protein source than similar foods like chia seeds or flaxseeds. The calories from those seeds are only 16–18 percent protein.

Hemp seeds are also a great source of vitamin E, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron, and zinc.

Papa John’s Marketing

The Street reported about how major pizza chains such as Papa John’s and Domino’s are cornering the niche market—targeting groups such as night shift workers and college students. Papa John’s, Dominos, and Pizza Hut provide a case study on top marketing techniques.

You’ve probably seen “Papa John” Schnatter on television in cleverly crafted commercials. Schnatter founded the chain in 1984 in a closet, and sold his ‘71 Camaro in order to buy the needed equipment to launch a business. Through his vision that was executed over the next decades, the franchise rose to become the fourth-largest pizza chain in the U.S. and one of the dominating pizza chains.

There are now thousands of locations and expanded into Europe, India, Latin America, and Asia.

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