PIZZA HUT’S CRUEL SUMMER.
As dark of a year as 2020 has been, a beacon of light emerged in the shape of a red roof.
Photo courtesy of Rolando Pujol
Yes…after years of Uncle TNUC and his loyal disciples campaigning #MakePizzaHutGreatAgain, the popular pizza chain finally started coming to their senses and showing some serious signs of getting back “the old charm”.
First it was small indicators like the old logos returning in TV commercials, then in just a matter of time, the original pizza boxes were back in their full glory. A simple marketing strategy to capitalize on nostalgia? Yes, and by all means that was a good thing. It works and goddammit…it’s just the right thing to do.
Then the company really took everyone for a loop when “classic” Pizza Hut restaurants were seen freshly restored in both Pennsylvania and Ohio. These locations were completely transformed back to the pizza parlors of our youth. Red roofs, checkered tablecloths, Tiffany-style lamps, the salad bar, carpeting, gold awnings, wood paneling and all the comforting vibes we missed from Pizza Hut. Could this truly be the end of the sad “mini” Pizza Huts crammed into junky strip malls?
A marketing ploy was one thing, but bringing back the classic restaurants was NEXT LEVEL. Adults could now bask in the memories while kids could discover what it meant to sit down at a pizza parlor with friends or family for some Friday night fun. Would tabletop video games return next? How about “Pizza Pete”, the forgotten mascot? Hope was definitely restored and the future was bright.
Fast forward to a summer weekend in August when Uncle T stopped by his neighborhood Pizza Hut for a little lunch. Due to all the recent excitement and me being enthusiastic for the future of the Hut, I wore my best Pizza Hut BIGFOOT wardrobe to maybe strike up a conversation with management about how their BIGFOOT pizza campaign should be the next item on the list to make a return.
What I saw before my eyes was devastating, soul-sucking and downright despicable.
This beloved location was not only vacant and clearly shut down, but it had been stripped of all its glory. Gone was the red pitched roof. The exterior had been painted over with new colors as to hide any traces that this was indeed a living, breathing Pizza Hut at one time. The soulless sacks of excrement didn’t even have the courtesy of giving Uncle T a phone call at his 1-900 hotline to prepare him for this death.
I quickly did some internet research and discovered that 300 locations were in the process of closing down. Still though, why shut down the family restaurants and not the junky, strip mall, poor-excuse-for-a-Pizza-Hut’s instead? Obviously I was a wreck, so I sat in my 1990 Firebird in the parking lot for the next two hours playing Dokken’s “Alone Again” over and over and over again while burning through a pack of cigs.
Just before I decided to leave and drown my sorrows at the nearest Hooters bar, I walked around the corner and noticed another man paying tribute to the fallen Pizza Hut.
There he was. Everyone’s favorite, friendly bigfoot, HARRY, eating a moldy pizza he found in a dumpster with a big, shit-eating grin on his face. Something about that smiling bigfoot just can’t help but bring a gleam to my eye. It was the glimmer of hope I needed during these dark times.
I decided right at that moment that the FIGHT is far from over. #MakePizzaHutGreatAgain is an ongoing battle but thankfully TNUC is fortunate enough to have so many supporters who share this passion. So please, continue to post your memories of classic Pizza Hut, whether that be in photos, merchandise items, eBay discoveries, artwork, stories or anything you can conjure up. We need our restaurant back.
Harry is actually taking it pretty hard.