In a wheat field of Commerce City, Colorado, less than 30 miles from downtown Denver and a mile from DIA runways, Papa John’s has crafted a six-acre crop circle promoting the company’s 100 percent whole-wheat pizza crust made with Ultragrain flour.

A pizza topped with pepperonis (red mulch), green peppers (corn stalks), black olives (black mulch) and cheese (harvested wheat) is the focal point of the crop circle, complemented by a Papa John’s pizza box in the upper right-hand corner and the words “New 100% Whole Wheat Crust Pizza” in the lower-right. The entire design is set underneath the term “America’s Choice,” a nod to the country’s growing focus on the importance of whole grains and the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Denver later this month.

“We think the crop circle is a perfect visual for communicating Papa John’s use of 100 percent whole grains to make our new whole wheat crust pizza,” says Bill Van Epps, Papa John’s president, USA. “We’re very proud to be the first pizza company to offer a whole wheat crust pizza nationwide that combines great taste with the natural nutrition of whole grains. The benefits of whole grains are many, and we hope this sends a positive message to kids heading back to school, people flying in to Denver for the DNC, and health-conscious consumers everywhere.”

Papa John’s–working with the Colorado Wheat Commission, the National Association of Wheat Growers, the Wheat Foods Council, and ConAgra Mills, which produces Ultragrain for the whole wheat pizza crust–enlisted well-known earthworks artist Stan Herd to create the all-natural masterpiece, requiring 600 hours of work to be completed in just over three weeks.

“This was an incredible opportunity for me to showcase the beauty of a Colorado wheat field through the style of art I enjoy creating most,” Herd says. “Fortunately, Papa John’s was willing to allow me to lead the design of the image, which was important to me. And after I got the opportunity to meet the folks involved, I knew this was going to be an amazing project.”

In 2001, when Papa John’s founder John Schnatter was testing and researching wheat to support the company’s “Better Ingredients. Better Pizza.” brand promise, he found a sweet, mild wheat in Colorado that worked well with the company’s fresh dough product. When the company developed its whole wheat crust earlier this year, Schnatter also turned to Colorado, this time for hard white wheat, milled into Ultragrain, to find the perfect blend.

In May, Papa John’s became the first national pizza chain to add a 100 percent whole-wheat crust to its menu. As a way to celebrate the completion of the crop circle, Papa John’s will offer its whole-wheat crust pizza for just $8.88 when ordered online at on August 7-8.

“Consumption is now starting to rise as Americans discover a wide range of new whole grain choices that are quick and delicious,” says Cynthia Harriman, director of food and nutrition strategies, Oldways/The Whole Grains Council. “Our 100 percent Whole Grain Stamp makes it easy to find products like the new Papa John’s whole-wheat crust, and to see at a glance the amount of whole grains they contain.”

Headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, Papa John’s International Inc. is the world’s third largest pizza company. For nine years running, consumers have rated Papa John’s No. 1 in customer satisfaction among all national pizza chains in the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). Papa John’s also ranks first among pizza companies in the 2008 Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index and was named 2007 Pizza Today Chain of the Year.

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