Pizza Hut is an American restaurant chain and international franchise which was founded in 1958 by Dan and Frank Carney. The company is known for its Italian-American cuisine menu, including pizza and pasta, as well as side dishes and desserts. Pizza Hut has 18,431 restaurants worldwide as of December 31, 2018, making it the world's largest pizza chain in terms of locations. It is a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc., one of the world's largest restaurant companies.
|Wholly owned subsidiary|
|Founded||June 15, 1958|
Wichita, Kansas, U.S.
|Headquarters||7100 Corporate Dr, Plano, Texas|
Number of locations
|18,431 restaurants worldwide|
|Artie Starrs (President Pizza Hut U.S.)|
pizza · pasta
Pizza Hut was founded in June 1958 by two Wichita State University students, brothers Dan and Frank Carney, as a single location in Wichita, Kansas. Six months later they opened a second outlet and within a year they had six Pizza Hut restaurants. The brothers began franchising in 1959. The iconic Pizza Hut building style was designed in 1963 by Chicago architect George Lindstrom. PepsiCo acquired Pizza Hut in November 1977.
Before closing in 2015, the oldest continuously operating Pizza Hut was in Manhattan, Kansas, in a shopping and tavern district known as Aggieville near Kansas State University. The first Pizza Hut restaurant east of the Mississippi River opened in Athens, Ohio, in 1966 by Lawrence Berberick and Gary Meyers.
Pizza Hut's international presence includes Canada and Mexico in North America, India (not in the Pizza Hut division, but in the Yum! India division), Bangladesh, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Germany, Spain, Turkey, South Africa, Honduras, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Colombia, Venezuela, Chile, Brazil, Peru, Tanzania, Ecuador, and Nicaragua, and its Asian presence includes Japan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam, China (now part of Yum! spinoff Yum China), Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Myanmar, and Macau. Pizza Hut was one of the first American franchises to open in Iraq.
The company announced a rebrand that began on November 19, 2014, in an effort to increase sales, which dropped in the previous two years. The menu was expanded to introduce various items such as crust flavors and 11 new specialty pizzas. Work uniforms for employees were also refreshed. In 2017, Pizza Hut was listed by UK-based company Richtopia at number 24 in the list of 200 Most Influential Brands in the World.
Pizza Hut is split into several different restaurant formats: the original family-style dine-in locations,; storefront delivery and carry-out locations, and hybrid locations that have carry-out, delivery, and dine-in options. Some full-sized Pizza Hut locations have a lunch buffet, with "all-you-can-eat" pizza, salad, desserts, and bread sticks, and a pasta bar. Pizza Hut has other business concepts independent of the store type.
An upscale concept was unveiled in 2004, called Pizza Hut Italian Bistro. At 50 U.S. locations, the Bistro is similar to a traditional Pizza Hut, except the menu features new, Italian-themed dishes such as penne pasta, chicken pomodoro, and toasted sandwiches. Instead of black, white, and red, Bistro locations feature a burgundy and tan motif. Pizza Hut Bistros still serve the chain's traditional pizzas and sides. In some cases, Pizza Hut has replaced a "Red Roof" location with the new concept. "Pizza Hut Express" and "The Hut" locations are fast food restaurants. They offer a limited menu with many products not seen at a traditional Pizza Hut. These stores are often paired in a colocation with WingStreet, in USA and Canada, or other sibling brands such as KFC or Taco Bell, and found on college campuses, food courts, theme parks, bowling alleys, and within stores such as Target.
Vintage "Red Roof" locations, designed by architect Richard D. Burke, can be found in the United States and Canada; several exist in the UK, Australia, and Mexico. In his book Orange Roofs, Golden Arches, Phillip Langdon wrote that the Pizza Hut "Red Roof" architecture "is something of a strange object – considered outside the realm of significant architecture, yet swiftly reflecting shifts in popular taste and unquestionably making an impact on daily life. These buildings rarely show up in architectural journals, yet they have become some of the most numerous and conspicuous in the United States today."
Curbed.com reports, "Despite Pizza Hut's decision to discontinue the form when they made the shift toward delivery, there were still 6,304 traditional units standing as of 2004, each with the shingled roofs and trapezoidal windows signifying equal parts suburban comfort and strip-mall anomie." This building style was common in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The name "Red Roof" is somewhat anachronistic now, since many locations have brown roofs. Dozens of "Red Roofs" have closed or been relocated or rebuilt.
Many "Red Roof" branches have beer if not a full bar, music from a jukebox, and sometimes an arcade. In the mid-1980s, the company moved into other successful formats, including delivery or carryout and the fast food "Express" model.
In China, Pizza Hut (simplified Chinese: 必胜客; traditional Chinese: 必勝客; pinyin: Bìshèng Kè) used an altered business model, offering a fine-dining atmosphere with knives and forks and using an expanded menu catering to Chinese tastes. By 2008, Pizza Hut operated restaurants and delivery locations. That year, the company introduced "Pizza Hut Express", opening locations in Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Hangzhou. The 160 restaurants were in 40 Chinese cities in 2005. As of 2015, Pizza Hut had 1,903 restaurants in China.
Savio S. Chan (陳少宏, Pinyin: Chén Shàohóng) and Michael Zakkour, authors of China's Super Consumers: What 1 Billion Customers Want and How to Sell it to Them, stated middle-class Chinese perceive Pizza Hut as "akin to fine dining", though Pizza Hut was "China's largest and most successful foreign casual-dining chain".
In North America, Pizza Hut has notably sold: Pan pizza, baked in pan with a crispy edge; stuffed crust pizza, with the outermost edge wrapped around a cylinder of mozzarella cheese; "hand-tossed", more like traditional pizzeria crusts; “Thin 'N Crispy”, a thin, crisp dough which was Pizza Hut's original style; Dippin' Strips pizza, a pizza cut into small strips that can be dipped into a number of sauces; and its largest product, the Bigfoot pizza.
The stuffed-crust pizza was introduced on March 26, 1995. By the end of the year, it had become one of their most popular lines.
On May 9, 2008, Pizza Hut created "The Natural" pizza, which featured natural ingredients and was sold in Seattle, Denver, and Dallas. This was discontinued on October 27, 2009, in the Dallas market.
Pizza Hut developed a pizza for use as space food, which was delivered to the International Space Station in 2001. It was vacuum-sealed and about 6 in (15 cm) in diameter to fit in the station's oven. It was launched on a Soyuz and eaten by Yuri Usachov in orbit.
In recent years, the chain has seen a downturn in profits. In 2015, the franchise stated it would be pumping more capital into its London branches. Pizza Hut is installing cocktail bars in its London branches as part of a £60 million bid to win back "the Nando's generation".
In January 2019, Pizza Hut announced it had expanded beer delivery to 300 locations across the U.S., with plans to expand to 1,000 locations by the summer.
In March 2019, Pizza Hut announced the return of the P'zone after a hiatus of several years.
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Pizza Hut's first television commercial was produced in 1965 by Bob Walterscheidt for the Harry Crow agency in Wichita, and was entitled "Putt Putt to the Pizza Hut". The ad, which looks just like an old movie, and features a man in a suit and tie, played by Ron Williams, (production manager for KAKE-TV at the time) as he starts ordering take-out and driving his 1965 Mustang JR to Pizza Hut, where he is chased by a variety of townspeople portrayed by neighborhood kids, Walterscheidt and his daughter, and various employees for Harry Crow and KAKE-TV. He picks up his pizza and goes back to his house, where all of his pizza is eaten by the townspeople before he can take a bite, which makes the man upset as he calls Pizza Hut again. The ad first aired on November 19, 1966, during halftime of the Notre Dame vs. Michigan State "Game of the Century", and dramatically increased sales for the franchise. "Putt Putt to the Pizza Hut" ran on TV for eight years and was nominated for a Clio Award.
Until early 2007, Pizza Hut's main advertising slogan was "Gather 'round the good stuff", and was "Now You're Eating!" from 2008 to 2009. From 2009 to 2012, the advertising slogan was "Your Favorites. Your Pizza Hut" From 2012 to 2016, the advertising slogan was "Make it great", a variation of the 1980s–1995 slogan "Makin' it great!". From 1995 to 1999, the slogan was "You'll love the stuff we're made of". The advertising slogan is currently "No one outpizzas the hut".
Pizza Hut does not have an official international mascot, but at one time, commercials in the U.S. were called "The Pizza Head Show". These commercials ran from 1991 to 1999 and were based on the Mr. Bill sketches from Saturday Night Live during the late-1970s. The ads featured a slice of pizza with a face made out of toppings called "Pizza Head". In the 1970s, Pizza Hut used the signature red roof with a jolly man named "Pizza Hut Pete". Pete was on the bags, cups, balloons, and hand puppets for the kids. In Australia during the mid to late 1990s, the advertising mascot was a delivery boy named Dougie, with boyish good looks, who upon delivering pizza to his father, would hear the catchphrase "Here's a tip: be good to your mother". Adding to the impact of these advertisements, the role of Dougie was played by famous Australian soap opera and police drama actor Diarmid Heidenreich.
Pizza Hut sponsored the film Back to the Future Part II (1989) and offered a free pair of futuristic sunglasses, known as "Solar Shades", with the purchase of Pizza Hut pizza. Pizza Hut also engaged in product placement within the film, having a futuristic version of their logo with their trademarked red hut printed on the side of a mylar dehydrated pizza wrapper in the McFly family dinner scene, and appear on a storefront in Hill Valley in the year 2015.
The 1990 NES game, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game, came with a coupon for a free pizza. The game was filled with Pizza Hut advertising (the first-ever console video game with product placement) and pizza that would refill the character's life.
In 1995, Donald Trump and his ex-wife Ivana Trump appeared in a commercial. The last scene of the commercial showed Ivana asking for the last slice, to which Donald replied, "Actually dear, you're only entitled to half", a play on the couple's recent divorce.
In 1995, Ringo Starr appeared in a Pizza Hut commercial which also featured The Monkees. A commercial with Rush Limbaugh dates from the same year, in which he boasts "nobody is more right than me," yet he states for the first time he will do something wrong, which was to participate in Pizza Hut's then "eating pizza crust first" campaign regarding their stuffed-crust pizzas.
In 1999, the announcer says, "The best pizzas under one roof" in the Big New Yorker pizza commercial seen on the PlayStation Pizza Hut Demo Disc 1. Also, in 1999, the game Crazy Taxi for Sega Dreamcast featured Pizza Hut as one of the locations to which players were able to drive and drop off customers. However, in the game's 2010 re-release for Xbox Live and PlayStation Network, all of the product placement, including the Pizza Hut locations, were removed.
Early 2007 had Pizza Hut move into several more interactive ways of marketing to the consumer. Using mobile-phone SMS technology and their MyHut ordering site, they aired several television commercials (commencing just before the Super Bowl) containing hidden words that viewers could type into their phones to receive coupons. Other innovative efforts included their "MySpace Ted" campaign, which took advantage of the popularity of social networking, and the burgeoning user-submission marketing movement via their Vice President of Pizza contest.
Following England's defeat to Germany on penalties in the semifinals of Euro 96, Gareth Southgate, Stuart Pearce, and Chris Waddle featured in an advertisement, which shows Southgate wearing a paper bag over his head in shame as he was the one who missed the crucial penalty against Germany. Waddle and Pearce, who both missed penalty kicks in Italia 90, are ridiculing him, emphasising the word "miss" at every opportunity. After Southgate finishes his pizza, he takes off his paper bag, heads for the door, and bangs his head against the wall. Pearce responds with, "this time he's hit the post".
In 1997, former Soviet Union Premier Mikhail Gorbachev starred in a Pizza Hut commercial to raise money for the Perestroyka Archives. In recent years, Pizza Hut has had various celebrity spokespeople, including Jessica Simpson, the Muppets, and Damon Hill and Murray Walker.
On April 1, 2008, Pizza Hut in America sent emails to customers advertising their pasta items. The email (and similar advertising on the company's website) stated: "Pasta so good, we changed our name to Pasta Hut!" The name change was a publicity stunt held on April Fools' Day, extending through the month of April, with the company's Dallas headquarters changing its exterior logo to Pasta Hut. This name change was also used to promote the new Tuscani Pasta line and new Pizza Hut dine-in menu. The first Pasta Hut advertisement shows the original Pizza Hut restaurant being imploded and recreated with a "Pasta Hut" sign.
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- In the early 1990s, as part of PepsiCo's sponsorship of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer (and its former moniker, The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour), Pizza Hut was included in the acknowledgment alongside Taco Bell and KFC, which PepsiCo owned at the time.
- In 2000, Pizza Hut was a part-time sponsor of Galaxy Motorsports' #75 Ford in the then NASCAR Cup Series, driven by Wally Dallenbach Jr.
- Pizza Hut was the shirt sponsor of English football club Fulham F.C. for the 2001–02 season
- Terry Labonte drove selected events with Pizza Hut as the primary sponsor of his #44 car in 2005.
- Pizza Hut purchased the naming rights to Major League Soccer club FC Dallas' stadium, Pizza Hut Park, prior to its opening in 2005, which were allowed to expire in January 2012.
- Pizza Hut is a sponsor of the Newcastle Vipers ice hockey team for the 2007/08 EIHL season in the UK.
- Pizza Hut sponsored the anime series Code Geass; as a tribute to this, one of the series' characters C.C. will constantly order their pizza or tightly hug a pillow resembling Pizza Hut's Japanese mascot "Cheese-kun" while their logo at the time appeared in the second season's first episode.
- In October 2015, Pizza Hut signed sponsorship deals with the Dallas Mavericks, Dallas Stars, and American Airlines Center.
- In February 2018, Pizza Hut signed a sponsorship deal to be the official pizza sponsor for the National Football League.
Pizza Hut has sponsored the Book It! reading-incentive program since it started in 1985. Students who read books according to the goal set by the classroom teacher, in any month from October through March, are rewarded with a Pizza Hut certificate good for one free, one-topping Personal Pan Pizza; and the classroom whose students read the most books is rewarded with a pizza party.
The program has been criticized by some psychologists on the grounds it may lead to overjustification and reduce children's intrinsic interest in reading. Book It! was also criticized by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood in 2007 who described it as "one of corporate America's most insidious school-based brand promotions." A pamphlet produced by the group argued the program promoted junk food to a captive market, made teachers into promoters for Pizza Hut, and undermined parents by making visits to the chain an integral part of bringing up their children to be literate. However, a study of the program found participation in the program neither increased nor decreased reading motivation. The program's 25th anniversary was in 2010. The Book It! program in Australia ceased in 2002.
In the United Kingdom, Pizza Hut was criticized in October 2007 for the high salt content of its meals, some of which were found to contain more than twice the daily recommended amount of salt for an adult. The meats that consumers demand for pizza toppings (ham, sausage, bacon, etc.) are, likewise, salty and fatty meats.
In July 2014, delivery drivers filed a class-action lawsuit over Pizza Hut "paying delivery drivers net wages below minimum wage due to unreimbursed automobile expenses" in violation of the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act. An attempt by Pizza Hut to have the case dismissed in November 2015 failed. In December 2016, the case dubbed Linkovich v. Capital Pizza Huts, Inc., et al., AAA Case No. 01-14-0001-6513 was decided by arbitration, in which Pizza Hut paid damages.
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