Back when Pizza Hut was a somewhat respected fast-food pizza chain and the restaurant was still recognizable thanks to the red vinyl booths, stained glass chandeliers, shiny red roof and most importantly – halfway decent pizza – the company was crazy about their promotions. Movie tie-ins were a big thing as the ‘Hut struck deals with Land Before Time, Back to the Future and of course the biggest of them all, the TMNT franchise, with the restaurant being coined as “the official pizza power for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles“.

These generated a truckload of promotional items and materials that can now be found at crusty flea markets and on auction sites like eBay. Most commonly found are cups, glasses and kid’s plush toys. Once in a while Pizza Hut glory day aficionados like Uncle T will come across something really precious like a pair of Back to the Future Part II “Solar Shades” from 1989. Or one of their delivery boy jackets from the early ’90s. However every so often something really, really bizarre surfaces. An item that really makes us scratch our heads and wonder what type of acid a disgruntled teen employee dropped into the mozzarella cheese barrel before a corporate exec ate their lunch that day.

The monster announcement of 2017 came last week when Pizza Hut unveiled their “pizza tops” sneakers which have a built-in app, allowing you to order a pizza directly from your sneakers. Due to the sudden rage and TNUC getting multiple messages from fans about these wild things (thank you), now is probably a good time to shed some light on some of Pizza Hut’s most peculiar items throughout the company’s legacy. Some are promotional items while others are just oddities that popped up at different restaurant locations. Let’s go ahead and start discussing some of the great Pizza Hut Peculiarities! 

#1 Radio & Headphones!

The late eighties saw the partnering of two pop culture giants, Pizza Hut and Radio Shack. In 1986 they released the Radio with Headphones, a true triumph of technology equipped with little pizzas that hugged around your ears! Plus, this was during the age when all headphones had those puffy muffs (don’t know the technical term) to rest on your ‘lobes. Why did those go away? Also why weren’t these pizza headphones more of a big deal? I know whenever TNUC gets a request to DJ pool parties and monster truck gatherings, he’s always wearing these hot numbers while cranking the hits.

#2 Dirty Doily!

This lil’ nasty hails from the 1970’s(!) and has a current listing price of $12.31 on eBay (price including food stains). I don’t know what’s more unsettling, the fact that someone’s held onto this stained napkin since the 1970’s or that they want to sell it. If Uncle T was the seller, I’d pretend it was used by a famous person and have an elaborate story to back it up. “Rod Stewart and a bunch of hookers stopped by Pizza Hut one night while on tour in ’78. After devouring a Priazzo pan pizza in 90 seconds, they ran out of the restaurant without paying, leaving only this dirty doily and cocaine residue all over the table”.

#3 Pocket Knife! 

“You know, if you stab a man in the dead of winter, steam will rise up from the wounds. Indians believed it was his soul escaping from his body.” – Glenn, Manager of Stan Mikita’s Donuts.

If the dirty doily gets the grand prize for the creepiest item on this list, the Pizza Hut KNIFE follows shortly behind. I get a real uneasy feeling looking at this, like it must have been used in a murder or dangerous love affair/scandal. I bet it was a love triangle that resulted in heartbreak and some jealous soul being stabbed by an enraged lustful lover. From its box to even the blue blanket it was photographed on, this had to have showed up in an episode of Unsolved Mysteries.

#4 Vinyl Record! 

From 1982 the smash-success Pizza Hut Hits exploded into the hearts and minds of the youth. In all seriousness this is a very peculiar promo item. There isn’t much information available about how the record was released however we did discover that it can be easily purchased and typically for very cheap. The songs on this compilation range from country-rock to soul, which isn’t exactly the type of music that comes to mind when thinking about Pizza Hut. It would have made way more sense to have Huey Lewis, The Beach Boys, Eddie Money, Whitesnake, etc. Maximum respect goes out to the cover artist though who nailed it with the pizza spinning on an ancient record player.

#5 Hawaiian Shirt!

Ah, there’s no better way to celebrate Hawaiian Shirt Friday at the office than donning this tantalizing tropical button-down made by the designer dream team over at Pizza Hut. To accompany this carefree fashion statement, it’s best to display a similar “fuck it all” attitude while wearing it. Consider roller blading into your office Friday morning (at least 2 and a half hours late), balancing a steamy large cheese with one hand and a boom-box blasting David Lee Roth’s “A Lil Ain’t Enough” in the other. Lastly cruise by your bosses’ office and pause, pulling your sunglasses down to give him a viscous eyebrow shake, then keep cruising until you trip and fall face-first into the secretary’s lap between her legs. Cobwebs!

#6 Lunch Cooler!

Some might suggest the Pizza Hut cooler is just a plastic lunchbox with a logo slapped on it, but they’d be dead fucking wrong. This juggernaut is a STATEMENT. Bring this thing to the beach party or better yet the CONSTRUCTION SITE. While everyone’s rolling in with their boring Igloo coolers filled with mundane lunches, show your love of the ‘Hut with the Pizza Hut cooler! You’ll be the talk of the job site. Plus, how rad would this look sitting on a stack of 2 x 4’s? Bonus points if you stuff a bunch of gooey pizza inside and share with the crew.

#7 Dehydrated Miniature Pizzas!

Pizza Hut jumped all over the opportunity for a corporate tie-in with 1989’s Back to the Future Part II. Futuristic commercials aired on TV and kids went wild for Pizza Hut’s $1.99 “Solar Shades” as worn by characters in the movie that hang out at Cafe 80’s. One of the most memorable moments in BTTF 2 was when the McFly family sits down for a hydrated pizza. In the scene, Mrs. McFly takes a dehydrated pizza (about the size of a cookie) and pops it into the Black & Decker hydrator and within a matter of seconds, it comes out piping hot and the size of a conventional pizza!

While replicas like the one pictured above aren’t officially licensed, they’re simply too good to exclude from this list. Several sellers on eBay have them available to purchase but of course we’re waiting on Pizza Hut to raise the bar and invent the technology to make these a reality.

#8 Classy Watch! 

Pizza Hut could’ve easily went the kiddie route with this one, making neon red watches that kids could wear to school and destroy at recess. Maybe throw a Ninja Turtle on there and shove it with the rest of the TMNT merchandise.

NOPE. Pizza Hut had a far different, more “executive” idea. Leather bands, gold framing and a degree of class and sophistication unmatched by most. Ladies and gentlemen, introducing the Pizza Hut watch. Worn by top doctors, lawyers, wall street execs and CEO’s of fortune 500 companies, the Pizza Hut watch is a way to impress the board room, swoon the ladies and give you that boost of confidence you so rightfully deserve. You’ve earned it, champ. Now roll up those blazer sleeves, pour yourself a icy glass of Zima and thank God you were born.

TNUC’s dream promo item to own? My very own Pizza Hut delivery “car topper”. You know, those light up boxes that delivery drivers install on the top of their cars. Bonus points if it’s one of those triangular ones mirroring the restaurant’s signature red roof. 

Thanks for reading yet another article on goddamn Pizza Hut. The real reason this place fascinates me so much is because of what it used to be. Beyond TNUC being a total sucker for sit-down pizza parlors, Pizza Hut was simply a fun place that took risks with a bunch of wacky ideas for menu options and fun promotional tie-ins. The commercials really tired to pull at the heartstrings and were sometimes very effective. If the little league commercial at the beginning of TMNT the movie doesn’t get your heart pumping, you’re a deadbeat. Even the generic Italian “mama mia” murals that hung on the restaurant walls at least showed they cared. The place had heart.

If you have memories of the glory days of this legendary American franchise, share them on the social media networks and tag #MakePizzaHutGreatAgain.

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  1. About 10 years ago, me and my buddy stole the sign from Pizza Hut. They had taken it down and put it next to the dumpster, just to be thrown away. Well, my buddy had sentimental memories of that Pizza Hut, living right down the street from it, growing up in the early 90’s. So we’re like fuck that we have to take it. This sign was was like 6 feet by 4, it was a big ass sign! Somehow got it and spent 2 hours trying to get it into his basement, and there it sets to this day.

  2. I was first introduced to Pizza Hut in 1969 when I was six years old. There are two things I remember most fondly, the Wurlitzer Americana juke box, and the iconic Early American mate’s chairs. The first thing I noticed about this iconic dining chair, was that it’s solid wood seat bared the shape of a guitar body. I wondered, which came first, the guitar, or the mate’s chair. That was when my obsessive fondness for this iconic dining chair was born. I remember that there were two periods when Pizza Hut had these chairs in their old restaurants at the tables out in the middle of the dining room. The first was from the beginning to 1973. They then changed them out for the parlor style bentwood chairs. In 1976, they went back to the mate’s chairs until 1984. Then they went to the bentwood chairs again.
    Also, I over the years had lots of friends who’s families had mate’s chairs in either their kitchens or dining rooms. At age 9, I got a student desk that came with a mate’s chair in 1972. In high school, I refinished that chair to match a new desk. In October of 1988, I was thinking of getting my own apartment, and I bought four mate’s chairs at Sears that very closely resembled the ones that Pizza Hut had had. I finally got my own apartment in 1992 after the chairs had spent four years in their cartons. I got an oblong Early American four top table to go with them.
    I today have that very table and those very chairs in the dining area of my current apartment. I also have a red checkered tablecloth to go with them as well. The chairs are still in good shape structurally, though they could use refinishing, because theres only one way I sit in ’em-(hips to the spindles). I never slouch, I never lean back on two legs, and I never push them out from under the table with all of my weight on them. Slouching, leaning back on two legs, and pushing them back with full weight on them, are three common things that are bad for almost any kind of wooden dining chair. Others that I have over for dinner sometimes do one or more of those three things in my chairs. That’s when I wish I could get hold of Christine, Stephen Kings ’57 Plymouth Fury. Christine has an odometer that runs backwards and generates a rejuvenating power. Particularly if one of my four chairs got broken, I could put it in Christine, go jump on I-77 south, and make a run down to Columbia and back, to rejuvenate the chair. I really would like to do this with all four chairs four times a year as preventive mantainance.

  3. Man do I miss old Pizza Hut. I used to love visiting those places with their brick, beams and booth seats. I have a love for 1960s and 70s era early American decor. Missed their glory days though when they still had the stained glass lights. Used to be one of my favorite “cheap” pizza options. Loved their pizza and especially their cina-stix. Used to go there specifically for those! They just went downhill though. Last time I got my usual plain cheese it tasted like cardboard. the only flavor the cinastix had was the icing. They got that in common with Burger King and Mcdonalds. They’ve really gone downhill too.

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