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

Lauren Silverman
Pizza Hut is trying to make a splash with dozens of new ingredients, crust flavors and drizzles.

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 reportedsame store sales declines for eight straight quarters, while rivals like Domino’s Pizza and Little Caesars have enjoyed gains. 

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

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.

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

“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.

Lauren Silverman was the Health, Science & Technology reporter/blogger at KERA News. She was also the primary backup host for KERA’s Think and the statewide newsmagazine  Texas Standard. In 2016, Lauren was recognized as Texas Health Journalist of the Year by the Texas Medical Association. She was part of the Peabody Award-winning team that covered Ebola for NPR in 2014. She also hosted "Surviving Ebola," a special that won Best Long Documentary honors from the Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI). And she's won a number of regional awards, including an honorable mention for Edward R. Murrow award (for her project “The Broken Hip”), as well as the Texas Veterans Commission’s Excellence in Media Awards in the radio category.