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Review: Pizza Hut's "The Natural"

I'm always leery of the term "natural" in food packaging.

What does that mean anyway? It seems like one of those loophole descriptors, like "lite" or "farm-fresh."

Having said that, I will also say this: I don't know if Pizza Hut's "The Natural" Pizza is any better for you, but it tastes pretty darned good. So good, in fact, that one of our office taste-testers insisted you could feed it to a group of construction workers without anyone suspecting its insidious healthfulness.

The pie contains "all-natural pepperoni" - as opposed to "synthetic pepperoni"? - which means it contains no artificial preservatives or added nitrites or nitrates. Its sauce is made of "vine-ripened tomatoes" and features no high-fructose corn syrup.

But the biggest surprise was the multigrain crust, which is chewier, sweeter and more complex than its Wonderbread counterpart.

The pizza also seemed to contain a smidge less sauce and cheese than a traditional pie. That didn't bother me: The lighter flavor combinations melded nicely with the almost-nutty crust.

Most importantly, the pepperoni was much less greasy than the regular stuff. There was no need to blot up a miniature oil spill before consuming it.

At $9.99 for a medium, 12-inch pizza ($12.77 delivered, minus tip), "The Natural" is a bit spendy. But it also proves one thing: When it comes to halfway-healthy fast food, we've come a long way from the McLean.