Do you have fond memories of dining at Pizza Hut as a kid?
Just thinking of hanging out at Pizza Hut brings back fond memories for me. I’ll never forget the time my neighborhood friends and I were old enough to dine there without our parents. We pooled our money together and bought a pizza to share. We were living the dream.
Today, I still can’t believe that the internationally known pizza restaurant was founded in my home city, Wichita. In 1958, two Wichita State University students, Dan and Frank Carney, opened the first restaurant located on the east side of town staffed by family, fellow fraternity brothers, and friends. What started as a humble side hustle for a couple of college students has grown to 18,000 Pizza Hut restaurants in over 100 countries (Source: Yum! Brands, 2021).
Pizza Hut enthusiasts will get a kick out of visiting the Pizza Hut Museum on Wichita State University’s Innovation campus – the original “Home of the Hut.” It is the actual original Pizza Hut building! Open to the public and free to tour, the interactive museum showcases everything you love about the business from authentic artifacts to chronological timelines.
How did it all start? The Carney brothers borrowed $600 from their mom to open the first restaurant location at Kellogg and Bluff streets. When they eventually sold the business to Pepsi Company in 1977, it was worth $300,000,000. Now, that’s how you build a business! As they say, “no one loves pizza more than Pizza Hut.” To read more about the company’s growth, visit their blog page.
Over the years, the brand has evolved to align with pop culture trends. (Does anyone remember the commercials featuring celebrities?) They made history as the first company to deliver food to space. Additionally, they influenced childrens’ love of reading. I was a product of the BOOK IT program, a literacy initiative that encouraged students to read and helped kids get access to books. After I finished reading a book, I was awarded a gold star sticker to place on my Pizza Hut BOOK IT button. Once I completed all five stars on the button, I earned a Personal Pan Pizza®! Perhaps that explains my love of reading and why I eventually became a high school English teacher?
Pizza Hut’s influence can be seen as you tour the museum. You’ll appreciate the interactive space offering visitors a chance to take a walk down memory (pizza!) lane. You’re encouraged to experience the Tactile Library and take a selfie with the restaurant chain’s original mascot, Pizza Pete. Warning: By the time you exit the building, you’ll crave a slice of pizza. What will you order for dine-in or delivery?
Speaking of delivery, did you know that Pizza Hut delivered pizzas to The White House in 1989 after First Lady Barbara Bush decided to host a pizza party? A favorite meal choice of Americans, the company launched online ordering in 1994 making getting a pie delivered to your door that much easier.
Don’t forget! The Pizza Hut Museum is open to the public and admission is free! Review the museum’s hours and plan your visit to the original Home of the Hut. Consider yourself the ultimate Pizza Hut fan? Stay up to date to learn about product releases and campaign launches via their Press Room page. Perhaps you can’t make it to Wichita to visit the museum? Take a virtual journey here.
Now, if you’ll excuse me. I have a Meat Lover’s® pizza to order.