Two Billion Ways To Order A Pie? Pizza Hut Tries A Spicy Makeover | KERA News

Two Billion Ways To Order A Pie? Pizza Hut Tries A Spicy Makeover

Nov 18, 2014

Pizza Hut, the nation’s biggest pizza chain, is overhauling its brand. There’s a new logo, a more casual uniform, and fresh leadership. But the biggest upgrade is the menu.  

Taking a hint from fast casual stars Chipotle and Chop't, Pizza Hut will allow customers to design their own pies -- with curry flavored crusts and Sriracha sauce drizzles.  

The question is can it help Pizza Hut get back on track -- it's reported same store sales declines for eight straight quarters, while rivals like Domino’s Pizza and Little Caesars have enjoyed gains. 

Pizza Hut's "Sweet Sriracha Dynamite" pizza pie.
Credit Pizza Hut

At Pizza Hut’s Plano headquarters, chief marketing officer Carrie Walsh shows off what what looks like artisan pizza – a thin crust pie with bright green spinach and red Peruvian peppers, topped with a spiral swirl of balsamic.

There are more than two dozen new ingredients on Pizza Hut’s “Flavor Of Now” menu. Customers will be able to choose flavors to brush onto crusts – like “Pretzel Piggy” and “Ginger Boom Boom.” There are four drizzles, and a "skinny" lineup for those seeking a lighter, healthier pie.

Carrie Walsh, chief marketing officer of Pizza Hut, shows off two new pies in the Plano headquarters.
Credit Lauren Silverman / KERA News

“In fact there are now 2 billion ways you can customize your pizza,” Walsh says.

Yes, she said 2 billion. 

Walsh says customers want flavor adventure. Why not let them play mad scientist with each pie?

“Pizza is America’s favorite food," she said. "We thought it made sense to bring new flavor experiences to pizza."

But 2 billion customization options is overkill, says Rich Duprey. He writes about fast-casual dining for The Motley Fool (and he's a former pizza deliveryman!)

Duprey says Pizza Hut did need to sprinkle in a little spice – sales have been on the decline for two years – but not drop in the whole spice bottle.

“Sales 101 says keep it simple,” he says. “A confused mind always says no.”  

To keep out chaos behind the counter, Pizza Hut undertook its biggest training endeavor ever. Walsh is confident the plethora of new options won’t slow down service or delivery.

“We’ve been working on [rebranding] for a year,” Walsh says, promising the idea isn't half-baked.

The new menu will be up in 6,000 Pizza Hut stores Nov. 19.