Discovering Pizza Hut’s Roots in Wichita, Kansas
Did you know Wichita is the birthplace of Pizza Hut? I was recently invited to see the history of Pizza Hut and to learn about the company’s All American promotion, in partnership with the NCAA. The chain went on a nationwide search to find a huge sports fan to have a super cool experience of attending college sports championships throughout the year. That man is Jason Zone Fisher, and he joined me in Wichita.
Jason is the perfect spokesperson for Pizza Hut and this NCAA partnership. Jason is from Cleveland, and (like those of us from Chicago), he’s spent his life rooting for a long line of losing professional teams. I find that this losing experience builds a deep love of sports and an interest to be around all sports. Jason is very comfortable around people and excited to find the spotlight. Jason is warm, friendly and one of those people that loves to do whatever comes. Dare I say that Jason is like a pizza: He has some spice, lots of character and ingredients, and is well-rounded.
The part of this trip I enjoyed most was learning about the history of Pizza Hut. When I travel, I look for food experiences that are very local. I love local cuisine because it’s all about the people and culture. I learned that Pizza Hut is deeply rooted in Wichita, and Wichita in Pizza Hut. The fabric of Pizza Hut is family; the company was started by two brothers, Dan and Frank Carney, who had a dream and borrowed $600 from their mom to make it happen. The pizza recipe they developed in 1958 used all natural ingredients. The original concept and desire for fresh ingredients is more true today than ever. Like momma would do, the dough is proofed and hand tossed.
My last stop in Wichita on this learning adventure was meeting a couple of the earliest franchisees in the system. Hearing them talk about their love of the company, their love of the brand, and their love of the product made me appreciate how much Pizza Hut has given to them and how much they have given to Pizza Hut. It truly felt like family. My biggest takeaway from the day was that Wichita, small town minded, is as integral to Pizza Hut as Pizza Hut is to Wichita.