Oh, Pizza Hut. America’s largest pizza chain is also one of its most dynamic, with wild menu items all over the world, various concepts that have come and gone, and an eagerness to embrace the most modern of technology. But before it became the ubiquitous chain it is today, it was just another small business founded by two guys with a dream. Here are 25 things you didn’t know about Pizza Hut.
Pizza Hut’s beginnings were about as humble as you can imagine. College-age brothers Dan and Frank Carney borrowed $600 from their mother and opened a pizza restaurant near Wichita State University on May 31, 1958, at the suggestion of a local real estate agent who was looking to rent a former bar and convinced them that pizza would be a good concept. Neither brother had any restaurant experience, but they quickly got the hang of it. Business was soon booming. The first franchise opened in Topeka in 1959, and a later franchise in Aggieville, Kansas, became one of the first fast food restaurants to offer delivery, revolutionizing the industry and leading to even greater success, with 4,000 outlets in operation across the country by the time the Carney brothers sold the business to PepsiCo in 1977. They’re both still alive (and very wealthy); Frank Carney is ironically a major Papa John’s franchisee today.
Today, Pizza Hut is a subsidiary of Yum Brands, which also owns chains including Taco Bell and KFC, and there are more than 6,000 locations in the United States and more than 5,000 locations in 94 countries worldwide. There are several concepts, including an upscale one called Pizza Hut Bistro, small storefronts called Pizza Hut Express that only sell a limited menu, and “Red Roof” stand-alone restaurants that have a full bar, a lunch buffet, a jukebox, and occasionally even an arcade.
Whether some of your best childhood memories take place in those old-school full-service Pizza Huts or your only experience with them has been some late-night greasy slices, there’s a lot we bet you didn’t know about this huge fast food chain. Read on for 25 unexpected facts about Pizza Hut.