In continuation of honoring National Pizza Month in this here month of October, we shed a spotlight on a company that specializes its own Italian-American cuisine menu which, besides pizza, includes pasta, as well as desserts and side dishes…
In June of 1958, Dan and Frank Carney, two brothers who happen to be college university students, founded Pizza Hut in a single location in Wichita, Kansas; They opened a second restaurant six months later. There have been six Pizza Hut restaurants within a year, and the following year they began to franchise. In 1963, Pizza Hut designed its now-iconic building style, and 14 years later Pizza Hut was acquired by PepsiCo.
The pizza chain had been operating its oldest restaurant in a Manhattan, Kansas shopping and tavern district before it closed in 2015, while the very first Pizza Hut restaurant opened in Athens, Ohio east of the Mississippi River in 1966.
Now, the concept of Pizza Hut was this: It is split into several different restaurant formats: Storefront delivery and carryout locations, the original family-style dine-in locations, and the hybrid locations that have carry out, delivery, and dine-in options. There are some full-size Pizza Hut locations that have a lunch buffet, while the pizza chain has other business concepts that are independent of the store type. The other locations in which they have an expanded menu, as well as options of the upscale type, are called the “Bistro” locations that are “Red Roofs”.
Pizza Hut also has those express fast food restaurants that could be found within such stores at Target; They could even be found in theme parks and college campuses.
Pizza Hut is best known for its products, such as the famed “Pan pizza”, which is pizza baked in a pan with a crispy edge; The stuffed crust pizza, which happens to be any pizza with the outermost edge wrapped around a cylinder of mozzarella cheese. There are also other products by the chain, such as the “Hand-Tossed” and the “Thin ‘N Crispy”. But in May of 2008, Pizza Hut tried something completely different: It created “The Natural” pizza, a pizza that has natural ingredients and was only sold in Seattle, Denver, and Dallas before it was discontinued on October 27th, 2009 in the latter’s market.
When it came to advertising, Pizza Hut just happens to have a creative way to sell its pizza; Its first television commercial, produced in 1965 by Bob Walterscheidt for the Harry Crow agency in Wichita, was done in the style of an old movie, and features a man wearing a suit and tie driving his 1965 Mustang to pick up pizza from Pizza Hut in which he had just ordered, but before long he is chased by a variety of townspeople, and by the time he goes back to his house, all of his pizza had been eaten before he could even take another bite! This led the upset man to call Pizza Hut and starts ordering pizza again! That very first Pizza Hut ad aired during halftime of the Notre Dame vs. Michigan State “Game of the Century” on November 19th, 1966, and that caused sales for the franchise to increase in dramatic ways. The commercial, which told viewers to “Putt Putt to the Pizza Hut”, would go on running on TV for 8 years before earning a Clio Award nomination.
“Gather ’round the good stuff” was one of the many advertising slogans that Pizza Hut had used over the years; A not-so-uninteresting fact: Pizza Hut sponsored a movie, in this case, the 1989 sequel to Back to the Future called Back to the Future Part II, in which the restaurant offered a pair of futuristic sunglasses, known as “Solar Shades”, with the purchase of any Pizza Hut pizza, while the chain had also engaged in product placement throughout the film. (I bet those sunglasses are now worth something or other on eBay…)
There is one moment where even a certain pizza chain could make its customers take a joke, more or less: On April 1st, 2008, Pizza Hut informed its customers via email os its advertisement of their pasta items, which it stated: “Pasta so good, we changed our name to Pasta Hut!” Of course, that name change was an April Fools’ Day publicity stunt, while the name change itself had also been used to promote the new Tuscani Pasta line as well as the new Pizza Hut dine-in menu. And that’s not all: The first advertisements show the original Pizza Hut restaurant being imploded and then recreated with the “Pasta Hut” sign.
Today, in spite of the changing times, Pizza Hut remains one of the most inventive fast-food restaurants in America today, with or without anchovies.