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May 24, 2024 53 mins

This fast-food pizza franchise has served up literacy programs, space sponsorships, government-promoted cheese – and a lot of pizzas. Anney and Lauren delve into the deep-dish history of Pizza Hut.

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:08):
Hello, and welcome to favor prediction of iHeartRadio. I'm Annie Reese.

Speaker 2 (00:11):
And I'm more In Vogelbaum and today we have an
episode for you about Pizza Hut.

Speaker 1 (00:17):
Yes, which is not a sponsor, we should say, nope,
nopeurse not currently this one has felt like a long
time coming in a lot of ways.

Speaker 3 (00:35):
Uh huh, uh huh.

Speaker 2 (00:36):
One of our kind of favorite things to do amongst
us and the super producers Dylan and Andrew is to kind.

Speaker 3 (00:44):
Of like trade weird food.

Speaker 2 (00:47):
Products that we find in our little group chat and
stuffed crust pizza is weird, y'all.

Speaker 1 (00:58):
It is. It is strange enough that we're planning a
short all about it. And that was part of the
inspiration for this episode was I had been bombarded with
ads from various various fast food chains, Pizza Hut being

among them. That was just like what I was bamboozled.
I was shocked that what they were putting in a
stuffed crust, and kind of the attitude of it was like,
and now we put chicken wings in the crust, all shrimp.

Speaker 3 (01:38):
You're welcome, Like what these are real things?

Speaker 1 (01:43):
And I went on this rabbit hole and then here
we are, but we're still not really going to get
into the depth of the crust.

Speaker 3 (01:53):
Yeah, now that's a different episode.

Speaker 2 (01:57):
It went a little off the rails, to be honest. Yeah, yeah, yeah,
this one. I had to like push back recording a
couple of times because I was like, Annie, I'm still
I'm still reading about Pizza Hut.

Speaker 1 (02:10):
Yes, yes, because it was just involved in so much,
so much pizza innovation.

Speaker 3 (02:20):
Yeah, it was.

Speaker 1 (02:22):
They've gotten up to some stuff, and we've also we
did an episode on Domino's. They can see they've also
gotten up to some stuff. And now I'm really interested
in what American based pizza fast food chains have gotten
involved in. But they there's a lot of rabbit holes

for us to pursue, and yeah, we shall. We have
a working document of things we would like to return to.
I know I've told this story before, but there was
a Pizza Hut in the small town that I grew
up in as a kid. And in my small town,
everything was really read apart, right, so it would take
you a while to get to places. Pizza Hut was

one of the closest restaurants at like a mere fifteen
minutes away. Oh, so we would go not infrequently, and
I remember it very fondly. I loved the personal pan pizza.
That was my favorite thing. But it also had what,

to my like child brain, looked like a jukebox and
you could press like buttons and it would flip through
sleeves of things like a jukebox does.

Speaker 3 (03:37):
But it was PlayStation one demos. Oh what that is
so cool?

Speaker 1 (03:43):
It was the coolest, Lauren. So we would always go
and see what was the new thing. And these demos
would have like maybe six seven games on there, but
you could only play ten minutes. I played the first
ten minutes of so many games I've never played in
my life. That's amazing. But I would play those ten

minutes over and over again. So I have a very
fond memory of doing that. That Pizza Hut actually was
recently featured on Retro Pizza Huts I saw, so.

Speaker 3 (04:15):
It's still around, I guess, yeah. Yes.

Speaker 1 (04:20):
On the other hand, Pizza Hut was one of the
most fancy restaurants I ate at when I was in China.
I went there because I thought it would be quick
like fast food. I'd been there for eight months, so
please don't send your judgment my way.

Speaker 3 (04:35):
I was just like I need something really quick.

Speaker 1 (04:37):
It was not that they like sat me down, unfolded
the napkin.

Speaker 3 (04:41):
Oh there were chandeliers, Oh my goodness.

Speaker 1 (04:44):
And it was like a cut like they gave me
a knife and fork for this pizza and it was
very nice.

Speaker 3 (04:52):
I was very taken aback that I love this.

Speaker 2 (04:58):
And yes, it turns out that Pizza Hut China has
this whole premium brand extension, like one like serves a
Beef Wellington. Okay, I think that that will have to
be part of that separate episode, like just Pizza Hut
wacky branding, perhaps especially internationally separate separate episode.

Speaker 1 (05:19):
Yes, and listeners, we're giving you the heads up if
you've got any thoughts about this experiences, Oh yes, please
let us know. I also have to mention Pizza the
Hut from Spaceballs. I still get the spelling mixed up
because of that. I always add the second T.

Speaker 2 (05:43):
I feel like they've even leaned back into that recently
because one of their relatively new slogans is no one
out pizzas the Hut, and every time I hear it,
I think of Spaceballs.

Speaker 1 (05:53):
So no one out pizzas the Hut is such a
ridiculous funny slogan.

Speaker 3 (06:00):
Oh my.

Speaker 1 (06:02):
As mentioned, yes, you can see our past episode on Dominoes,
also our past episode on Pizza at Large. But I
guess this brings us to our question. I guess it
does Pizza Hut.

Speaker 3 (06:17):
What is it? Well?

Speaker 2 (06:19):
Pizza Hut is an American brand of franchised fast food
or fast casual pizza restaurants that currently emphasizes its home
delivery service. It's logo references its traditional restaurant roof architecture,
which is rectangular a pavilion style in this bright deep
red color. Being a franchise, not all locations offer the

same food, especially internationally, but you've basically got a selection
of like American style pizzas made with a plain wheat
flour dough, tangy seasoned tomato sauce, and gooey salty mutsurella cheese.
You can choose the style of crust like thicker and chewy,
soft or thinner and crunchy, and in the toppings that
you'd like. They also have a number of alternatives and

sides and desserts available depending on the store, and serve
soda fountain drinks. Some dining locations serve beer and wine.
They are a truly gigantic brand that offers comforting sameness
and familiar, nostalgic comfort food and a certain amount of

like stunt dishes to drum up interest.

Speaker 3 (07:23):
In addition, the food.

Speaker 2 (07:26):
Is heavy and deeply mediocre and so satisfying. It's like
the McDonald's of pizza for lots of Americans anyway. It's
sort of like your childhood stuffed animal or imaginary friend,
like coming up and giving you a big ol'd hug,

like really comforting and slightly unsettling.

Speaker 4 (07:56):
Yeah, yeah, uh okay, So the pizza, there are a
few crust styles.

Speaker 2 (08:07):
You've got hand tossed, which is like a soft and
chewy crust that's medium. Thick stuffed crust is similar, but
the round edge is stuffed with a stretchy mozzarella. You've
got thin and crispy, which is a thinner dough for
a crunchy crust, and a pan pizza, which is a
thicker crust baked in a hot pan with oil in
the bottom, creating like a crunchy bottom layer and a
kind of pillowy, chewy crumb.

Speaker 4 (08:28):

Speaker 2 (08:29):
The toppings at my local restaurant, they currently offer pepperoni, bacon, sausage, ham, chicken, beef,
and pork, then mushrooms, onions, black olives, green bell pepper,
jalapenia peppers, banana peppers, fresh tomato, and pineapple. Alternative sauces
include barbecue sauce and buffalo sauce. They also offer melts now,

which are sort of like a large slice of pizza
without the tomato sauce folded over on itself. Meant to
be like a single serving sandwich kind of thing, like
kind of cows zy in concept but not closed.

Speaker 3 (09:03):
Yeah right. Sides.

Speaker 2 (09:06):
Sides are a popular thing. Breadsticks, cheesy breadsticks, cheesy breadsticks
with toppings like garlic or bacon, French fries, breaded deep
fried bzzarella sticks. Pasta bakes with either a tomato sauce
or a creamy alfredo style sauce, and then mixin's like
vegetables or chicken or Italian meats. Not sure what that means,

love it. They also have chicken wings bone in or boneless.
The boneless style are more breaded. It's a chicken tender, y'all.
And then desserts there's cinnamon bread sticks with icing dip,
shareable like large format chocolate chip cookies or brownies, fried
apple pie bites, fried chocolate doughnut bites, or mini Cinnabon

branded cinnamon rolls.

Speaker 3 (09:51):

Speaker 2 (09:55):
And I would say that dipping sauces are a big
part of this, Like pizza experience, they have little little
little cups of their their red sauce, like a creamy
garlic sauce, Ranch honey, barbecue, Buffalo, and New Burger sauce,
which I strongly suspected Thousand Island.

Speaker 1 (10:15):
This is really interesting to me because, as I said,
we would you couldn't deliver from Pizza Hut where I was.

Speaker 4 (10:22):

Speaker 2 (10:23):
Yeah, and it had like a buffet, yeah.

Speaker 1 (10:26):
Salad buffet, which we talked about in mcale episode. They're
kind of known for having at one point a lot
of kale.

Speaker 2 (10:33):
A lot, Yeah, like at one point, and I believe
the early nineties, early to mid nineties they were the
top purchaser of kale because they put it as a
garnish around their salad bars.

Speaker 1 (10:49):
Yes, so that is what I that is what I recall.
Things have changed at Pizza Hut. I've got to.

Speaker 2 (10:58):
Say, yeah, yeah, they they are always innovating.

Speaker 1 (11:02):
They are they are well what about the nutrition.

Speaker 2 (11:08):
I would say that treats are nice. That's what I'm
going to say. These these dishes are frequently calorically dense.
But you know, yeah, have a pizza party. Pizza parties
are great.

Speaker 3 (11:22):
Yes they are, Yes, they are. And we're not the
only ones who think.

Speaker 2 (11:26):

Speaker 3 (11:26):
We do have some numbers for you, my goodness, we do. Okay.

Speaker 2 (11:29):
So, as of twenty twenty three, Pizza Hut had nineteen
eight hundred and sixty six restaurant locations around the world,
only about six thousand of which are in the United States.
They are in over one hundred countries. They were making
twelve point eight billion dollars a year in global sales,

with their actual revenue somewhere above a billion dollars. Franchise
Times listed them as the twelfth just franchise in the
world that year. Wow, very nearly twenty thousand restaurant locations.

Speaker 3 (12:11):
That is so wild. Yeah, that is a lot to
take in.

Speaker 2 (12:17):
Yeah, yeah, this is why more episodes are for more
like yeah, like the spinoffs are forthcoming here.

Speaker 3 (12:23):

Speaker 2 (12:23):
So, the group Civic Science ran a survey in twenty
twenty two and found that Pizza Hut is the preferred
pizza chain among American adults with thirty five percent of
people surveyed saying that they like it best. Dominos came
in second with twenty seven percent of the vote, and
then Papa John's and Little Caesars were also a little

bit lower on there. But it was also interestingly strongly
weighted by age. The older the respondent was, the more
likely they were to prefer Pizza Hut.

Speaker 3 (12:55):

Speaker 1 (12:56):
I wonder if their new like Retro campaign is leaning
into that at all.

Speaker 2 (13:02):
Oh goodness, my goodness. We will talk about that in
the history section. As of twenty eighteen, the book It
Reading Program was in six hundred and twenty thousand classrooms
across the United States, reaching fourteen million students grades K
through six with the promise of a free personal pan

pizza if they meet reading goals. If you haven't heard
of this, you will, you will. As of that year,
it had since its start, had sixty five million participants.
That's like one in every five Americans.

Speaker 3 (13:44):
Yep, yep.

Speaker 1 (13:48):
I have to say my school did Papa John's, and
I would have.

Speaker 2 (13:53):
Oh wow, Okay, the pizza wars continue, bueal goodness.

Speaker 3 (14:03):
You can visit a Pizza.

Speaker 2 (14:05):
Hut museum on the campus of Wichita State University. It
is free to go. They do not serve pizza blumber.

Speaker 3 (14:13):
Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (14:16):
The brand also maintains a dedicated studio set for advertising
and marketing shoots. I assume that that's probably a common thing,
but I'd never run across that fact about anyone before,
so I'm like, no, I mean sure, yeah.

Speaker 3 (14:30):

Speaker 2 (14:32):
They also hold a couple of world records. In twenty sixteen,
Pizza Hut set a Guinness record for the highest altitude
pizza delivery to a group of employees in Kilimanjaro hiking
guys at over nineteen thousand feet at the top of
Mount Kilimanjaro. It took four days to make the delivery
and was done in celebration of Tanzania becoming the one

hundredth country.

Speaker 3 (14:56):
To host a Pizza Hut location.

Speaker 1 (15:00):
Ooh ooh, that's a lot of that's some dedication for
delivering the pizza.

Speaker 3 (15:09):
Yeah, yep.

Speaker 2 (15:13):
Then in twenty twenty three, they set another Guinness record
for the world's largest pizza with a surface area of
fourteen thousand square feet that's about thirteen hundred square meters.
That involved thirteen thousand pounds of dough about five thousand
pounds of sauce and nearly nine thousand pounds of cheese,

plus over six hundred and thirty thousand individual slices of pepperoni.

Speaker 1 (15:43):
Ooh again, my brain just cannot fathom this.

Speaker 3 (15:52):
I cannot process that.

Speaker 2 (15:54):
But yeah, it's a lot. That's a lot. This is
all a lot.

Speaker 3 (15:59):
Yes, yeah, this is quite a lot.

Speaker 1 (16:03):
And the interesting thing is it started from a kind
of small beginning.

Speaker 2 (16:09):
Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. We are going to get into
that and into the kind of meteoric rise in our
history section. And we are going to get into that
as soon as we get back from a quick break
forward from our sponsors.

Speaker 3 (16:30):
And we're back. Thank you sponsors, Yes, thank you again.

Speaker 1 (16:34):
See our past episode on pizza for more information on that.
But what would become the first pizza hut originated in
nineteen fifty eight when students of Wichita University out of
Kansas named Frank and Dan Carney set up what they
thought would be a small, local pizza shop staffed by

their friends, family, and fraternity brothers. According to the company,
the brothers got their startup money by borrowing six hundred
dollars from their mom, and the name was in part
because they could only fit eight letters on the sign.

Speaker 2 (17:13):
Yeah, so they were like, pizza hut sure, yeah, that's fine,
get it.

Speaker 3 (17:18):

Speaker 1 (17:20):
Another source claims that they mixed their dough in a
plastic baby bats up and gave away free slices in
order to attract customers, which.

Speaker 3 (17:29):
Yeah, yeah, sure, sure yes.

Speaker 1 (17:32):
In later interviews, Frank said that they were just looking
for a way to pay for college. Well, yeah, succeeded.

Speaker 2 (17:41):
Their first logo involved this little cartoon guy with a
big black mustache called Pizza Peat Pizza Pete.

Speaker 1 (17:50):
At the time, a pizza was somewhat of a trendy
food in the United States, and this business was successful
enough so that they opened five other locations within a year.
Had a franchise location into Peka, Kansas soon after in
nineteen fifty nine. From there, locations popped up across the state,

and then in nearby states, and then across the country.
By nineteen sixty eight, they went international when they launched
a location in Canada. Franchises in Australia and Europe started
opening in nineteen seventy one, and this, all of this
catapulted it to the top of the pizza chain competition
in terms of number of outlets and sales.

Speaker 3 (18:34):
This is wild to me.

Speaker 2 (18:35):
It was it was ten years in and they were international,
but okay, So with this move, the Carnes were looking
for ways to make their brand recognizable, and they hired
one of their other frat buddies who was working as
an architect and artist in Wichita, to design a building
that would stand out. So Richard D. Burke in nineteen
sixty nine came up with this rectangular pavilion shaped red roof,

and by nineteen seventy four like they had even incorporated
it into their logo. The building design also incorporated trapezoid
shaped windows and interiors that were decked out to resemble
like a quaint mom and pop pizza bistro. Lots of
wood and brick, red and white, checkered plastic coated table claws,
red vinyl booths, customs, stained glass lampshades, and red and

white with the brand name and black lettering. A lot
of big fast food brands were doing this type of
like very mid century, very standout design at the time.

Speaker 1 (19:31):
This is bringing back so many memories for me. I
forgot about the stained glass lamps.

Speaker 2 (19:36):
Yeah yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1 (19:40):
Oh why well, pizza hut Stock started to be traded
on the New York Stock Market in nineteen seventy two.

Speaker 2 (19:48):
As of nineteen seventy three, they were making two hundred
and twenty five million dollars a year in sales across
about one than eight hundred restaurants.

Speaker 1 (20:00):
Seventy seven, the stockholders sold Pizza Hut to Pepsi Co.
For about three hundred million dollars, while both of the
Carnie brothers left the company. Pepsi kept the company's headquarters
in Whichital until nineteen ninety five, when they relocated to Dallas, Texas.

Speaker 2 (20:16):
And then okay Slight Sidebar. In the late seventies and
early eighties, arcade video games started to really hit it big,
with cabinets like Space Invaders, Centipede, Donkey Kong, and Pac
Man all debuting within a few years.

Speaker 3 (20:30):

Speaker 2 (20:31):
I couldn't find a date for when Pizza Hut began
placing arcade games in their restaurants, but it would have
been like an obvious family restaurant marketing move and like
extra cash scheme, you know. The trend intensified through the
mid nineteen nineties with the release of games like Street
Fighter and Virtual Fighter, and personal favorite Teenage Mutan Ninja turtles. Yes,

they debuted the pan pizza in nineteen eighty and again
yes this is a pe so cooked and a then
a cast iron skillet. Not sure what it's up to
now so that it develops that crispy bottom sort of
fluffy chewy center for its crust. It would be served
right in the skillet, either a usual usual shareable pizza
size or the smaller personal pan pizza size. And then

in nineteen eighty four, which is ironic when I think
about it, the book It Program. This is a program
to encourage elementary school kids grades kindergarten through six to
read more books by offering prizes of like stickers and
buttons and a free one topping personal pan pizza up

to a pizza party for the whole classroom, all sponsored
by Pizza Hut. Okay, so, back in nineteen eighty one,
then President Ronald Reagan had set up this task force
to get private sector companies involved in public initiatives like education.
I guess that got then president of Pizza Hut incorporated

one art Gunther thinking, and he landed on a reading
program because his twenty something meters son had struggled with
that as a kid. So he worked with like the
Secretary of Education and a whole bunch of educators to
create this program, first just with local Kansas schools, and
then by nineteen eighty five a year later, with seven

million students across the country. They gave away some fifty
million dollars worth of free pizzas that year, although because
it is a tax write off and since families would
buy other stuff when they took their kid in to
get a pizza, their total out of pocket was only
about ten million.

Speaker 3 (22:45):

Speaker 2 (22:48):
Just genius marketing. I kind of hate it. It's so smart.

Speaker 1 (22:56):
I mean, it really worked because I do remember, like
I said, we didn't get pizza hut, which I'm wondering
now if Papa John's lost their own competitor. But whatever,
but you did. They didn't come with a drink, so
normally you would buy your drinks when you went in

and something else. And so of course, yeah, you're spending
more money.

Speaker 2 (23:21):
Yeah, and if your parents are there with you, then
they have to eat something to to but go ahead.

Speaker 1 (23:26):
Sorry, yeah, but that that I was very competitive. I
don't think they surprised anybody. So I made it like
my mission to win this pizza. Party every year.

Speaker 3 (23:36):
Yeah, and because I felt so cool.

Speaker 1 (23:38):
I was like, because of all the things I have read,
we all getting pizza.

Speaker 3 (23:44):
We all get pizza.

Speaker 2 (23:46):
You're welcome.

Speaker 1 (23:47):
It felt so special, even though like no offense, but
yeah it's pizza or like Papa John's or whatever. So yeah,
I mean I would love to hear from younger listeners.
What's what's the situation now? Yeah, when I was a kid,
it was a big deal.

Speaker 2 (24:04):
Yeah, I think right, like, yeah, it was. I was like, ooh,
I can earn something. Yeah, and I get a pizza.
That's just mine. It's just for me.

Speaker 3 (24:13):
It's my pizza.

Speaker 1 (24:15):

Speaker 2 (24:17):
Fascinating, really psychologically interesting. Yeah, And that was not the
only move that they made. In nineteen eighty nine, they
co founded this annual event called National Young Readers Week
with the Library of Congress to further encourage reading in
young people with activities like celebrity story time and like

day long readings at schools. Later, First Lady Barbara Bush
hosted a Reading in Pizza party for like two hundred
local kids at the White House, all sponsored by Pizza Hut.
And I will say, speaking of the psychology angle, I
will say a study in nineteen ninety nine that looked
into this found that being rewarded with stuff like pizza
for reading does not harm rates of reading later when

the reward is no longer active, and can sometimes increase
rates of reading overall.

Speaker 3 (25:09):
I love that.

Speaker 1 (25:11):
I love someone looked into that. To be honest, I
want to read anyway. The pizza was just.

Speaker 2 (25:16):
A nice Oh sure, yeah, yeah, that's all I was
doing at that age, so right, like.

Speaker 1 (25:21):
Yeah, like wait, this Lord of the Reading's book is
worth sixty eight points. Definitely, I'll done that.

Speaker 3 (25:30):

Speaker 1 (25:33):
In nineteen eighty six, the original Pizza Hut relocated to
the campus of Wichita State University. It was relocated to
a different part of the campus in twenty seventeen and
was made into a museum.

Speaker 3 (25:44):
Again, listeners, if you've been, please let us know.

Speaker 2 (25:48):
Yeah, it's got like four stars on trip Advisor.

Speaker 3 (25:51):
It looked cool. It looked small but cool. Yeah yeah, yeah, it.

Speaker 2 (25:57):
Was a small building anyway, perhaps what a hut?

Speaker 3 (26:00):
Yeah for hps.

Speaker 1 (26:02):
Well, now we must talk about stuffed crust pizza. While yes,
we are going to put a lot of this in
our side Dish episode, we have to touch on it.
This is another genius marketing thing that happened, because yeah,
I mean, the idea of stuffing dough with something is
by no means new, But Pizza Hut is widely recognized

as the first pizza chain to invent stuffed crust pizza,
which he has exactly what it sounds like in the
nineteen nineties. Okay, so this is a story that many contest,
but the popular story goes that in nineteen ninety two,
recent college graduate and food scientist Patty Sheebmeer, I hope

that I'm close. We try to look it up, but
couldn't find it. That pronunciation was adjusting to her job
as a full time pizza scientist amazing with Pizza Hut. Allegedly,
she was in what sounds like a very boring focus
group meeting where a man was complaining about the crust
and he called it pizza bones that he fed to

his dog. And so this gave her the idea of
making the crust just as delicious as the rest of
the pizza, so that none of it would be wasted
or given to your dog. As she was looking through
the grocery store, she got this idea, what if we
put string cheese in the crust? Several years of testing later,

Pizza Hut debuted their cheese stuffed crust pizza and it
was pretty much an immediate hit. Yes, other similar companies
like Papa John's followed suits soon.

Speaker 2 (27:45):
After the testing and several years is correct because the
testing was intense apparently, like the crust kept failing, it
would split open in the oven. Higher ups almost killed
the project thirteen times. But once it came out, Yeah,
stuffed cruss sales hit a billion dollars within the first year.

Speaker 1 (28:07):
Oh my gosh, I remember it was very novel. I
remember when it was like big and it was like, oh, yeah,
you could put cheese.

Speaker 3 (28:18):
In the crust?

Speaker 2 (28:20):
Yeah, why not?

Speaker 3 (28:24):
Oh my, there's something about me that loves it so much. Okay.

Speaker 1 (28:29):
However, Family Pizza restaurant Angelo Mangiello's children LLC sued Pizza
Hut in nineteen ninety five for one billion dollars, claiming
that they were the ones to invent stuffed crust pizza.

Speaker 3 (28:42):
Oh uh huh.

Speaker 1 (28:44):
They claimed that they had filed for a patent in
nineteen eighty seven, and they further claimed that they had
approached Pizza Hut with the idea and had been turned away.
Oh yeah, but they ultimately lost their case.

Speaker 3 (28:59):
Oh my huh.

Speaker 1 (29:02):
Stuffed crust intrigue and speaking of yes, and it has
since then taken on a whole life of its own,
especially abroad. We're gonna talk about in short listeners please
write in.

Speaker 2 (29:16):

Speaker 1 (29:17):
Also, I have to issue a mid episode correction. Apparently
we've never done an episode on Domino's. I guess that
we've just talked about it kind of at length, and
the food delivery episode and probably the pizza episode.

Speaker 2 (29:36):
Sure, sure, yeah, gotten up to a lot of stuff.
They have, they have, they're busy. But yeah, because we
were taking a pause to try to find the pronunciation
for Patty the food scientist's last name, and I was like,
have we because I don't remember one and I but
I frequently don't, so I checked him. Yeah, yeah we

had not.

Speaker 3 (30:00):
Apologies everyone.

Speaker 1 (30:01):
I guess it's just I remember the facts about Domino
so clearly that was were involved in that food delivery
episode that I just thought we had.

Speaker 3 (30:11):
But that means future.

Speaker 2 (30:13):
Another future episode. Yeah, oh man, this path is truly branching. Okay,
So back to Pizza Hut. So this stuffed Crust pizza
was by far not the only innovative product that they
came out with during this era of the like mid
eighties to mid nineties. Okay, Apparently in the nineteen eighties

the company had hired this marketing manager by the name
of David Novak, and he started up this new product
development team. Where their DEV teams had previously been bent
on like quality control and efficiency, he was just cranking
out new reasons to get people to spend money at
Pizza Hut. And this strikes me as super funny because

before I read this next fact, I wrote down that
it felt like through the late eighties and across the
nineties they were hawking some heck in new concept every month.
It was actually six to eight weeks. Novak wanted a
new product out every six to eight weeks. They did
testing for each product for at least eighteen months. Wow,

thatt some thought for them, Oh what a ballet of
weird pizzas.

Speaker 3 (31:33):

Speaker 2 (31:35):
Yeah. By nineteen ninety four they had sixty employees on
this team. Patty, whose name we don't know how to pronounce,
was one of the first I think like three two
or three employees. Anyway, Yeah, they did a barbecue sauce pizza,
a cheeseburger themed pizza. They had the whole Lover's line,
you know, meat lovers, veggie lovers. They had the Sicilian,

the Bigfoot, which was a rectangular pizza like two feet
by one foot in size, which is about sixty by
thirty centimeters, the Edge that had toppings that go all
the way to the edge, The Triple Decker, which was
like a pizza crust that was topped with two extra

thin layers of crust, sandwiching three layers of cheese, the
Big New Yorker, which had like larger foldable slices, and
the Pisone, which was basically a calzone. This was all
part of the Pizza Wars Capital p Capitol w so
all right. By the mid nineteen eighties, Pizza Hut Done

had been the biggest pizza chain in the US, but
they were almost completely focused on their in restaurant experience.
Dominoes meanwhile, went all in on delivery and takeout. It
was sort of this like middle class like status symbol
or sort of like small luxury convenience to have the
money to eat out, but to order in instead, especially

with the rise of cable television and VHS and Domino's
business was skyrocketing. Pizza Hut did not even do delivery
at all of its locations until nineteen eighty six. The
second they did. Their advertising push was heavy and Dominoes
responded in kind. At the time, Dominoes had this like

thirty minute guarantee or your pizza is Free campaign. They
had this mascot called Thenoid. We will have to do
that Domino's episode. Like, if you weren't watching television during
this era, it is difficult for me to express to
you how omnipresent the pizza wars were in popular culture.

Speaker 1 (33:50):
And if your parents would get like newspapers they had
that coupon section pizza coupons.

Speaker 2 (33:59):
Yeah, yeah, so intense. Just for one example of the
kind of marketing schemes that they came up with, a
Pizza Hut created a blimp for the big Foot, the
two feet by one feet rectangular pizza. They created a

blimp for it. It sadly had a malfunction and crashed
into the roof of an apartment building in New York
City on July fourth of nineteen ninety three. The two
crew members stained minor injuries, but no one else was hurt.
And if I may quote from the New York Times.
As the one hundred and sixty five foot dirigible plowed
into the top of the seven story building, its gondola

came to rest just inside the parapet, and its body
perched perilously and surreally, with its nose on the rooftop
and its tail jutting out high over the street. Then,
said witnesses, some of whom were sunning themselves on the roof,
the huge airship rapidly deflated from a gash to side,
Its nose fell limp amid a forest of pipes and
vents on the gray asphalt roof, and its tail dropped

down the building's brownish brick facade, covering scores of windows
with a bunting that might have been conceived by Salvador.

Speaker 3 (35:12):
Dolly, that's amazing. I'm so I've been glad. No, it's ert.

Speaker 2 (35:18):
Yeah, yeah, but wow, I hope a full recovery fared
those two crew members.

Speaker 3 (35:26):
The Pizza Wars did not mess around.

Speaker 2 (35:30):
No, no, there were dirigibles involved. Airships, airships in the
Pizza Wars.

Speaker 3 (35:39):
Wow, oh heck, oh yeah.

Speaker 2 (35:44):
The Pizza Hut also introduced that all you can eat
pizza buffet in nineteen ninety two, with about two thousand
units installed across the US. At first, these fourteen foot
buffet setups offered a number of pizza options, plus pasta dishes,
build your own salads, and dessert options like cookies and pudding,
all for a lunch price of three ninety nine. It

was a simpler time. Amidst their growing delivery business, they
like really wanted to make sure that dine in sales
maintained steam. It was very back and forth at the time.
They were really trying to grow both both portions. In
nineteen ninety four, we got Pizza Net. This was a
program piloted by this one franchise in Santa Cruz, California.
You could go online to pizza dot net, fill out

a form with your delivery info in order, and it
would be delivered. I know that this sounds like super
basic now, but this was one of the first, if
not the first product that was delivered from an online order.

Speaker 3 (36:46):
It worked.

Speaker 2 (36:46):
It worked by submitting the data from the form to
a server in Wichita, which then sent the order to
a computer at the restaurant in Santa Cruz, where an
employee would receive it and call you to confirm the order,
so quaint, I love it.

Speaker 3 (37:02):
That's great, that's great. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (37:09):
Pizza Hut was the first of several like fast food
fast casual restaurant chains that PepsiCo acquired, including Taco Bell
and KFC in the eighties. In nineteen ninety seven, PepsiCo
spun off their fast food division into what would become
Young Brands, which is the corporate overlords now. And this
brings us to two thousand and one, a pizza odyssey. Okay, So,

in two thousand and one, Pizza Hut delivered a pizza
in space for the first time. They worked with a
team of Russian food scientists to design a personal pan
sized pizza that could be taken to the International Space
Station and heated there in the kitchen oven. It was
a pizza with red sauce and mozzarella and salami. Apparently

pepperoni failed like the space taste test.

Speaker 3 (38:00):
Yeah, I don't know they had.

Speaker 2 (38:04):
Pizza Hut had also sponsored some rocket development around that time.

Speaker 1 (38:08):
Wow, they are into stuff and surprisingly a lot of
stuff coming up in the air.

Speaker 3 (38:15):
Yeah wow. Oh heck.

Speaker 2 (38:21):
In the early two thousands, Young Brands paired Pizza Hut
with this existing pasta concept called Pasta Bravo and this
new Wings concept called Wingstreet and began offering those dishes
at more restaurants. The brand started faltering though in the
twenty teens, with like a Dominoes coming out ahead in
online delivery technology and b fast casual chains that are

that were more focused on like food quality, both eating
into Pizza Huts customer base. Dominoes pushed ahead of Pizza
Hut in market share in twenty nineteen. This would not do.
Pizza Hud started trying to pivot. By at least twenty fourteen,
they had discontinued the red roof style for new locations

for something like they were trying to go for something
like sleeker and more modern. By twenty eighteen, they were
deep into actively replacing like red roof dine in restaurants
with new toned down delivery and take out focused restaurants.
An executive told QSR magazine at the time in twenty eighteen, quote,

we have a lot of red roof restaurants that are
in the wrong part of the trade area, haven't been remodeled,
and clearly need to go away. Oh yeah, yeah. But
through all this, like the companies reach like being second
to Dominoes is still very huge, Like there's still they've

they've still been up to all kinds of things, Like Meanwhile,
in twenty fifteen, they paired with an online university to
help staff members get a college degree that they can
earn credits toward a business program while they're working. In
twenty eighteen, they struck a deal with the national United
States government to put twenty five percent more cheese on
their Pan pizza in the US in an attempt to

help the dairy industry move an additional one hundred and
fifty million pounds of milk every year. Wow, they've re
engineered their Pan pizza pans to make better pizza cheaper
and their delivery system to get product to you fifteen
degrees hotter. But then then the company had a couple

of like fairly disastrous business years during the early pandemic,
and hundreds of locations closed across the United States. And
with that they started to reevaluate all of these changes
that they had been making, like not the technology ones,
but certainly they're like stuff all right.

Speaker 1 (41:02):
And as I've mentioned, there has been a move to
restore or highlight the retro fashion of old pizza huts there.
It's really interesting because they make it sound as I said,
I saw mine highlighted recently on social media, and they
make it sound like, oh, it was so ancient. But look,

it's like that friendly and like, wait a minute.

Speaker 3 (41:27):
It's like unearthing a fossil exactly.

Speaker 2 (41:32):
How could the people have lived? Then?

Speaker 1 (41:35):
It does feel the vibe of the social media posts
are very like, look.

Speaker 3 (41:39):
What they got up to back in the day.

Speaker 1 (41:42):
We still have restaurants, all right, So it.

Speaker 2 (41:49):
Was like only like like thirty years ago.

Speaker 3 (41:52):
Well, I guess that is a while.

Speaker 2 (41:55):
Anyway, it's not fossil a while. No, thank you, thank
you still here.

Speaker 3 (42:02):
I still have those demos. I'd still have my PlayStation one,
me two, me too? Why would I give that away?
Come on now?

Speaker 2 (42:10):
Yeah ridiculous? Uh yeah yeah. The fate of those the
fate of those red roofed restaurants is really interesting, like
going back, because they're very stand out like and if
a franchise closes and just like Abandons, one of those

restaurant locations, there's no way to make it look like
anything but.

Speaker 3 (42:37):
A pizza hut.

Speaker 2 (42:38):
It is very clear. Going back to the year two thousand,
the Onion was joking about how funny it is to
find these abandoned Pizza Hut buildings that have been converted
into like other businesses or like churches, like what have you.
There has since been a lot of pop culture coverage
of this and also a lot of nostalgia, and so

in their like repivot, Pizza Hut is really leaned into this.
In twenty twenty one, they debuted an arcade throwback pizza box.
It has it has like a Pacman board printed on it,
and you can use your smartphone to play like an
augmented reality pac Man game. They also promised that they

would be bringing back those translucent red plastic cups and
some classic menu items and those boocket pins.

Speaker 3 (43:30):

Speaker 2 (43:31):
This is all part of a trend that the the
news sometimes calls nostalgia, which makes me really hate it.

Speaker 3 (43:44):
Oh my yeah, uh huh.

Speaker 2 (43:46):

Speaker 1 (43:48):
I have to say I am pretty wary of nostalgia.
I don't think there's anything necessarily wrong with it, but
I like to like take a step back.

Speaker 2 (43:56):
Yeah yeah, like consider how your childhood is being marketed
back to you.

Speaker 3 (44:01):

Speaker 1 (44:02):
Yeah, I'm surprised how nostalgic this one is making me,
because I mean, like I said, Pizza Hut was that
was where we went. It was where we went after church.
It was like our brunch, yeah, but at lunch buffet.
Lunch buffet. But it was something I did like when
I started. When I got to college, I pivoted to Dominoes.

Speaker 3 (44:25):
Because they had the pizza tracker.

Speaker 2 (44:27):

Speaker 1 (44:28):
Anyway, so I'm kind of surprised at how many things
in here, especially around like the decor and just the
the vibe of it.

Speaker 3 (44:37):
I'm feeling really nostalgic, Lauren.

Speaker 2 (44:39):
Yeah, no, I mean that's that's it was part of
your childhood, man, That's fair. And yeah. Yeah, like like
part of the reason that the Pizzahead is still flagging
a little bit in terms of delivery sales is that
they just never quite got the technology down the way
that Dominoes did. They they have turned to the Pizza
Head has turned to using third party delivery services like

Uber Eats or whatever it is, and that has seen
them get a little.

Speaker 3 (45:07):
Bit more success. But but yeah, they're.

Speaker 2 (45:09):
Kind of still playing with it. Dominoes just came in
so strong on that. Yeah, I didn't. I didn't have
a lot of experience with Pizza Hut growing up. I
think we were a Domino's household when we did that
kind of thing, which was rarely or like preferably a
local pizza place. Definitely, like like as a grown up,

if we choose to use that term, Dominoes is my
preferred fast food pizza. But yeah, the more that I
wrote about it, the more I started craving pizza hut
pan pizza.

Speaker 3 (45:44):
Mm hmm.

Speaker 2 (45:45):
There's this like particular texture. It's just like so soft
and not quite food like, Yeah, I know what you mean.
It's got a very particular texture. And this is I mean,
this has been a fun one in terms of all
of the.

Speaker 3 (46:04):
Areas that they've dabbled in.

Speaker 1 (46:06):
Yeah, the Pizza Wars, we definitely are gonna have to
come back and talk about Dominoes.

Speaker 2 (46:11):
But yeah, yeah, and the Pizza Wars could probably them
itself be a whole episode.

Speaker 1 (46:18):
They really did get up to so much stuff like
video games, blimps like I mean, Dominoes. Go hear the
not Dominoes episode on food delivery. They've been like a
technology company almost. Yeah, Yeah, it's wild to me. This
has been a fun ride.

Speaker 2 (46:39):
Yeah, yeah, and more and more is coming if we so,
if we missed.

Speaker 3 (46:44):
Any of your favorite Pizza Hut facts.

Speaker 2 (46:47):
Please please please write in and let us know because
there is time.

Speaker 3 (46:52):
There is time.

Speaker 1 (46:53):
That would be great, But I think that's what we
have to say about Pizza Hut for nat.

Speaker 3 (47:00):
It is it is.

Speaker 2 (47:01):
We do already have some listener mail for you, though,
and we will get into that as soon as we
get back from one more quick break for a word
from our sponsors.

Speaker 1 (47:16):
A're back, Thank you sponsor, Yes, thank you, and we're
back with school pizza.

Speaker 3 (47:31):
Mm hmm okay.

Speaker 1 (47:34):
Kenna wrote, my mom's favorite cake is carrot cake with
cream trees frosting no reasons. As the eldest child, it
has usually fallen to me to prepare the birthday cake. Unfortunately,
I have recently discovered that my hands are allergic to carrots. Yes,
really just my hands and an actual immune system allergy.

I didn't know what could happen, and neither did my
so the last few years I have deputized the shredding
of the carrots, leading my father, very much not a baker,
to claim.

Speaker 3 (48:08):
That he made the cake. The liar.

Speaker 1 (48:10):
No, he does not know the secrets. He doesn't arrange
chopped walnuts into little rosettes are known. How to avoid
having large pockets of baked salad in the middle. He
also doesn't know that I put an extra cinnamon in
the frosting. Though now you two know the secret to
the perfect carrot cake frosting about a quarter teaspoon of cinnamon.

The frosting will be lightly beige. But white frosting is
not the point of carrot cake.

Speaker 3 (48:39):
Thankfully. My mom is no fool.

Speaker 1 (48:42):
She is, however, not allowed to shred the carrots because
that is too close to baking your own birthday cake.

Speaker 2 (48:50):
Yes, yes that is, that is and that is not allowed,
so you know.

Speaker 1 (48:56):
The rules against the rules. I do love this trying
to claim the carrot cake making. You're just helping as symbol.

Speaker 2 (49:09):
You're helping. You're not even helping assemble. You're helping with
one task. You're helping with an ingredient. And yes it's
the titular ingredient.

Speaker 1 (49:20):
But you don't know what to do if you don't
know how to make it. I've never thought about that,
but not have salad it.

Speaker 2 (49:26):
Yeah, no, that is a perfect description for carrot cake
gone wrong, and I have had that happen. And yes, yeah,
it's difficult. You have to be mindful, you have.

Speaker 1 (49:36):
To be mindful and very sorry to hear about this allergy.
Yeah that's something. Yeah, yeah, but that sounds delicious. And
thank you for the for the frost tip.

Speaker 2 (49:52):
Yes, yeah, okay, Bart wrote, I was so happy to
see you dedicate a recent episode to my apps flute
favorite white fish, the very underappreciated halibit. Firstly, you asked
for recipes. My advice there is to keep it really simple,
especially the first time you cook halibate. The fish has
an amazing flavor and texture all by itself, and while

it can be nice to pair that with other flavors,
I think your first experience should be of the fish itself.
Then you'll be in a position to better understand what
other flavors you might like to add to that base
in the future. My advice is to simply season a
nice halibu steak with salt and black pepper, then fry
it quickly in just a little butter until it's nicely
browned and just cooked through. No need to coat it
in flour or anything like that. It's a good firm

fish that will hold together nicely all by itself. And
I do mean just a little butter. I use about
half a teaspoon per steak. Secondly, at the start of
the show, you listed loads and loads of ways to
prepare halibit, and I was listening for my favorite smoked
and it wasn't on the list. I was going to
write in to say that you missed one, But much
later in the show you got to how the Norwegians

love it smoked and asked if anyone had any experience.
What I know is that the practice definitely extends, at
least as far south as Belgium. In my childhood years,
our family celebrated New Year at home in Belgium with
a big, cold buffet style dinner with lots of salads
and all the seafood you could ever want. The idea
was to have a delicious meal for twentyish people that

could be entirely prepared upfront and that everyone could enjoy,
including my vegetarian parents. Everyone had their own favorite. For
my mum it was tomatoes stuffed with tiny Belgian gray
shrimp with egg and mayo, but for me it was
a smoked fish platter. We already lived in Ireland then,
so we would bring half a smoked salmon over and
that would be complemented by smoked halibate from the local

market in Belgium. Smoked halibate has the same texture as
smoked salmon, but it is snow white. It would be
arranged on the platter in alternating little rolls of rich
pink Irish smoked salmon and white smoked halibate, around two
pots of sauce, mary rose for the salmon and tartar
for the halibate. I would just fill my plate with salads,
both smoked fish and both sauces and ignore all the.

Speaker 3 (51:59):
Rest of the space.

Speaker 2 (52:00):
Read to this day, whenever my parents visit Belgium and
ask what they can bring back to Ireland for me
is a treat, It's always the same two things, Hoe Garden,
Grand Crew festival beer. The regular hoe Garden is fine,
but the Grand Crew is something truly special and only
available for a short time each year, and a pack
of smoked halibate. I taught myself to make my own
tartar sauce that tastes like the stuff in Belgium, just

to get the most from it.

Speaker 3 (52:24):
Oh, oh, that sounds amazing, that really does Oh man?
I do I do love a smootfish. I love a
smoked fish.

Speaker 1 (52:35):
I do as well, I do as well, and I
did get some halibit. Yeah, so this is perfectly timed
for me.

Speaker 2 (52:45):
Beautiful, it can be beautiful.

Speaker 3 (52:47):
Oh, I'm so excited for you.

Speaker 1 (52:49):
Yeah, oh my well, thank you so much to both
of these listeners for writing in. If you would like
to right to us, we would love to hear from you.
You can email us at hello at savorpod dot com.

Speaker 2 (53:04):
We're also on social media. Hypothetically we forget to check
it sometimes, but here we are. Yeah. We are on Twitter, Facebook,
and Instagram at saver pod, and we do hope to
hear from you. Savor is production of iHeartRadio. For more
podcasts from my Heart Radio, you can visit the iHeartRadio app,
Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to your favorite shows.
Thanks as always to our superproducers Dylan Fagan and Andrew Howard.

Thanks to you for listening, and we hope that lots
more good things are coming your way

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Dylan Fagan

Anney Reese

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Lauren Vogelbaum

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