Little Caesar’s slogan in the US is “Pizza! Pizza!” but they can’t use that in Canada because there’s a large chain of pizza places here called Pizza Pizza. It may be an urban legend, but I’ve heard that years ago if a Canadian lost their ID while in the US and tried to get back into Canada, one of the ways the Canadian border guards would use to check if someone was actually Canadian is to ask them for the phone number of Pizza Pizza. They used a catchy jingle of their phone number in advertising.
On occasion, I get one of their “Hot-N-Ready” pepperoni pizzas for lunch. It’s only $5 for a 12" pizza, and they generally have a stack of 'em waiting under the heat lamp, so there’s no waiting. Cheap & Cheerful.
I note, however, that the box art tells you that it’s HOT (and it is) and it’s READY WHEN YOU ARE (also true) and that it’s FRESH OUT OF THE OVEN (arguably true, for certain values of “fresh”), but nowhere on the box is there any indication or assurance that what you’re about to eat is GOOD or TASTY or DELICIOUS or BEST-QUALITY or anything like that. Just HOT-N-READY.
For a five-dollar lunch big enough for two (or maybe three) people, it’s not bad value. If you have the constitution for it. The people in my office generally order from Ciao Cristina! across the street, where the pizza is four times as expensive. And I tellya, the extra money ain’t worth it.
The answer to your question depends on who is making the pizza, what the exact toppings are, and the quality and amount of each topping. Obviously, a chain like Papa John’s or Domino’s will get better pricing on a per unit basis than will a mom-and-pop operator because of greater volume and bargaining power. But, as a typical example, I have read that a 16-inch pizza with 10-ounces of mozzarella cheese, sauce, and 6 ounces of pepperoni will cost an operator around $2 (for the ingredients). I would guess that adding an additional topping might increase the cost by another 10-20 cents, depending on the topping. The dough itself will typically cost $0.011/ounce if made from scratch. For a 16-inch size using about 21 ounces of dough that would come to about $0.23. Generally speaking, the most expensive pizza item is the cheese.
The sauce is probably around .50 at most, cheese is around 1.50-2.00, pepperoni’s are a penny each so if you put 20 on, that’s 20 cents…you can figure out the rest depending on what you put on it. My cost if different than everyone elses I guess…but that’s mine, around 3.50-4.00
That’s about right, though food costs have gone up. As you are a bit of a Known Authority on web forums (hee hee… this time I tease in a non-pointed way), I’m a bit of a pizza guy since I, uh, worked at a Pizza Hut for… uh… well, too many years, and those cost estimates sound correct. When I worked there, the meats were more expensive than the cheeses, as a rule, but the dough and the sauce and the veggies were merest pennies. Our food cost for a 12" veggie pizza back in 1990 was around a quarter, and we sold them for around $9 or so.
Domino’s had shitty pizza for a long time simply because they were they only delivery game in town for so long. Once Pizza Hut started delivery in the mid-80s, their slightly-superior quality forced Domino’s to up their game or risk losing too much market share. And Little Caesar’s has always been apparently happy to hold the cheap-ass pizza niche. In my opinion, the quality of the dough is more important than the quality of the cheese, but since even the expensive dough is dirt-cheap, it’s tough to find genuinely piss-poor dough at most pizza joints. One can, however, find superior toppings (especially meats and cheeses), so I think that’s where the quality-vs-low-price game plays out.
Ressurecting this ancient thread to comment on this (blame @codinghorror for linking to his comment in a different pizza thread)… The story I heard was that the original owner/founder of Pizza Pizza in Canada sold the trademark for “Pizza Pizza” to Little Caesar’s, because he never thought he’d expand big enough to worry about going into the States. And yeah, that urban legend is just that - any American in Buffalo who listens to any Canadian radio would have known the Pizza Pizza phone number too.