Given the provided context of a certain song on Kanye West and Jay Z’s hit album, Watch the Throne, it is unlikely that Mr. West was referencing Pizza Hut’s insane commitment to innovation when he famously remarked “that shit cray.” But in the spirit of possibility, there does exist a small probability on that pie chart that Ye’s exclamation was directed at the Hut. After all, they’ve done some crazy shit.
Since its inception 59 years ago, the Italian-American pizza empire out of Wichita, Kansas has contributed a bewildering amount of hard-to-swallow concoctions and marketing ideas in the fast casual pizza industry—not limited to a stuffed crust containing fish eggs and cream cheese, a pizza box that moonlights as a movie projector, and as of this past month, a pair of “Pie Top” shoes that allow you to order pizza to the location nearest you with the click of a button on the tongue of shoes.
To our pleasurable dismay, and perhaps Ye’s, here are 15 of the heaviest times the Hut’s Department of Innovation was 425% actin’ up.
1. Cheeseburger Crust Pizza (2013)
As you’ll come to find out when reading through this list, someone with a considerable amount of power at Pizza Hut decided it was a revolutionary idea to take preexisting food items, position them within pizza crust, and then sell them to countries where those food items are popular. This one was released in the U.S. in 2013, where I imagine it was met with praise and heart attacks (in that order).
2. The Blockbuster Pizza Box (2015)
In an attempt to marry two of millennial’s favorite worlds—food and entertainment—into one piece of flimsy cardboard, Pizza Hut linked up with Ogilvy & Mather in Hong Kong to create a delivery box that doubled as a film projector for smartphones. Despite a cult-like obsession with the creation, it is unclear whether or not a single person ever successfully watched an entire move through their pizza box. And that is perfectly okay.
3. Marmite-Stuffed Crust Pizza (2014)
I don’t want to put this visual in your head, but I have no choice: Marmite sounds like the herd form of newly-hatched maggots. From what I’ve gathered on the Internet, it’s actually a spread of some sort that is produced by a company called Unilever. Which kinda sounds like liver. There’s really no getting away from the suggested horror of this one.
4. Triple Threat Box (2015)
And by triple threat, they mean: a threat to your health, your ability to function in the 48 hours that follow, and to your reputation as a human whose entire being cannot be compromised by meal less than $20. There could’ve been an entire season of Survivor based on this menu item.
5. Flying Fish Roe and Cream Cheese Crust Pizza (2014)
I think the objective here was to turn the crust into a sushi roll of some sort—which is a great idea and makes a lot of sense because I often find myself thinking, “Wow, would love to have an entire cheese pizza and 16 rolls of sushi tonight. But only if the pizza guy makes the sushi, too. Man, if only.”
6. Cornflakes Crust Pizza (2013)
The most important pizza of the day. What else is there to say? Oh wait, I know—how about any cereal other than bland-ass cornflakes? Have you ever tasted the glory of Cinnamon Toast Crunch? Golden Grahams? Even Frosted Flakes could’ve got the job done. I’m over this one.
7. The Mizza (2007)
As far as I can tell, there is a rice cake involved in this pizza. I do not wish to understand, and I’d also like to add that “The Mizza” should have been reserved for a pizza donning a double-digit amount of various meaty toppings. Shun.
8. Solar Shades (1989)
Remember when every U.S. company discovered they could get cheap sunglasses manufactured overseas with neon frames and their company name printed on them? The Hut was running this play about 20 years before the trend, plus making sure to push the envelope stylistically. Feel like I saw someone wearing these in Soho yesterday.
9. Hot Dog Crust Pizza (2015)
Every third grader’s dream and every Parent Teacher Association’s nightmare. Giving this one the Whalebone Education seal of approval on account of “they’re just kids,” and also asking that the Hot Dog Crust Pizza be referred to as, and only as, “Pigs in a Planket.” Also, the Washington Post is in the running for best digital article title of all time because of this item: “We Tried Pizza Hut’s New Hot Dog-Crusted Pizza So That You Don’t Have To.” Hah.
10. Pizza Hut Crust Flavors (2014)
Arguably applied via recycled nail polish brush, Pizza Hut dropped a gang of crust flavorings in 2014 that is still around to this day. Flavors worthy of mention include honey sriracha, toasted asiago, ginger boom boom and garlic buttery blend. Flavors that do not exist, but perhaps should, include: funnel cake sugar and Cheetos dust.
11. The S’mores Cookie (2016)
Pizza cookie. Chocolate. Graham cracker. Marshmallows. Gently drizzled with additional chocolate. Mmm, yes. Someone get me my stamp of approval and clear my schedule for the week. For once in this lifetime, there is actual business to attend to.
12. The Grilled Cheese Stuffed Crust Pizza (2016)
There is a nine-minute video review of this pizza on YouTube, conducted by a high schooler in his grandma’s dining room while wearing a three-piece suit. It’s nothing short of incredible and will be featured on whalebonemag.com in the month of April. He seems highly qualified to speak on this topic.
13. The “Pie Tops” Sneakers (2017)
Allows the wearer to order their favorite pizza to the nearest Pizza Hut location, or have it delivered to wherever they are at any time. A pretty smart move to celebrate the NCAA Tournament this year, but if I’m Pizza Hut, I’m giving these to an NBA player, having him order while hanging from the rim after a slam dunk, and then delivering the pizza on live television to the team’s bench. I feel like Blake Griffin would do it. He did that one ridiculous video game commercial. And the one for Kia.
14. The Golden Garlic Knot Pizza (2016)
They made this pizza as part of a one-time giveaway in 2016, and it’s topped with $100 of 24 karat, edible gold and stuffed garlic knot crust. If this pizza had an Instagram bio, and it didn’t say “~Knot your average pizza~” along with a pizza emoji and 2-3 hand clap emojis, my existence would be shattered.
14. The Tater Tot Crust Pizza (2016)
This concoction could’ve been a home run if they could’ve got Napolean Dynamite to do a commercial where the grocery store is out of tater tots (factories are on strike). Napolean would result to ordering an obscene amount of Pizza Hut’s Tater Tot Crush Pizzas, individually picking the tots off to eat as a separate meal, and then unsuccessfully trying to return the pizzas for “regular pizza value.” Might seem a little crazy, but after all I’ve seen thus far, I don’t think Pizza Hut would be opposed.
All photos copyright of Pizza Hut. If you enjoyed this list, check out our interview with the founder of Papa John’s.