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 nearly 17,000 locations worldwide. There have been several spinoffs introduced in recent years with marying success, 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.
The sign that they purchased only had room for nine characters!
The original building has been preserved, and is now located on the grounds of Wichita State University. A plaque on the building notes its historical importance.
Sadly, the classic Red Roof Pizza Huts of the 1960s and ‘70s, with their beer, buffet, and jukeboxes, are going by the wayside. If you ever encounter one (or if you have one in your town) consider yourself lucky!
Photo Modified: Wikimedia Commons / US Air Force
Parcells was so successful as manager that the franchise owner tried desperately to make him stay when he quit the job in order to take his first coaching gig, at a small Nebraska college. Parcells went on to become one of the greatest head coaches of all time.
They occasionally pop up on eBay, but we can’t vouch for the quality of the pizza.
…Ringo Starr and The Monkees...
Think advertising has gotten too over-the-top now? Well just remember 1999, when the company paid more than one million dollars to place a 30-foot advertisement on a rocket.
Ever opened a pizza box only to be disappointed that it doesn’t double as a movie projector? Well if you live in Hong Kong, you can order a pizza box that you can affix your iPhone to. Thanks to a special lens in the box, it’ll project a movie onto the nearest wall. Cool, we guess?
In 2015, a Florida woman and her children were being held hostage by her boyfriend, who took her cell phone but gave it back to her to order a pizza online. She wrote “911!! Hostage!! Help!!” in the comments section, and after a sharp-eyed employee spotted it she called the police, who quickly arrived at the woman’s house. You hear about fast food giving people food poisoning, but rarely about it saving lives!
Read More: The Most Notorious Moments in Fast-Food History
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