The Cheesy Arms Race Over Stuffed Crust Pizza

He called them “ pizza bones. ”
He didn ’ thymine barely say it once either — he kept talking about them. He said he didn ’ t like the pizza bones and that he would just feed them to his dog. cipher knew what the hell he was talking about, but that didn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate topic. After all, the middle-aged man had been asked to be a separate of a Pizza Hut focus group, and if he wanted to talk about pizza bones, well, person was going to listen .
This could easily have been dismissed as the ravings of a lunatic, but the people behind the glaze wanted clarification. When they got it, the “ pizza bones ” comments made sense. “ You know, the crust, ” the man explained. “ cipher always eats the crust. That ’ s what you throw to the chase — the pizza bones. ” Nobody knew it at the time, but within a few years, the man ’ s strange remarks would lead to a revolution in the pizza diligence. Decades late, that revolution would escalate into a barbarous, all-out arms race involving every big pizza chain in the country ; one whose side effect placid haunts us today.

The floor technically begins back in 1990, when a Kansas State University graduate named Patty Scheibmeir was hired by Pizza Hut right out of college as a “ subordinate food scientist. ” She worked in product exploitation, which included things like experimenting with recipes and attending stress groups. The aforesaid stress group occurred barely two years into her tenure, in December 1992. “ We ’ five hundred done a bunch of focus groups that week, ” she recalls. “ They were boring vitamin a hell. ”
however when the man kept going on about “ pizza bones, ” it caught the attention of Scheibmeir and her colleagues in Pizza Hut R & D. And when the man explained that he was talking about the crust, she had something of a revelation. “ He was complaining about how half the pizza goes to waste, so I thought, ‘ How do I make the wholly pizza edible ? ’ then it just dawned on me : ‘ What if I roll something into the edge ? ’ ”
Before long, Scheibmeir was searching a grocery store shop for inspiration, and string cheese — a modern product at the time — became the obvious answer for a crust stuffing. She bought a bunch together of them and lugged them back to the Pizza Hut test kitchen in Wichita. The results, however, were mix. “ Those string cheeses got very difficult, very fast, ” she says. “ When you ate it, the whole stick came out. ” calm, she knew she had something, so she kept experimenting .
“ It took about two and a one-half years to amply develop that pizza, ” Scheibmeir continues, explaining that they needed to create a softer cheese and a dough that wouldn ’ thymine tear when it was folded over. In 1994, the new pizza was tested in a couple of markets as “ Mama Lorelli ’ s Stuffed Crust Pizza. ” “ We wanted to make it feel italian and one of our market ridicule was named Lorelli, so that ’ south where Mama Lorelli came from, but that was dropped before long, ” she explains .

not long late, in March 1995, Pizza Hut rolled out ( pun ineluctable ) the nationally release of its stuff crust pizza. To say it was a achiever would be a hard understatement. By August 1995, Pizza Hut ’ s sales were up 68 percentage, and the stuff crust pizza was selling like brainsick. “ We were running out of tall mallow ! ” Scheibmeir says. “ We had to approve another output plant because we couldn ’ thyroxine keep up ! ”
The selling campaign was a big success excessively, as Pizza Hut hired celebrities — Dennis Rodman ( yikes ), Donald Trump ( double yikes ) and Rush Limbaugh ( ternary yikes ) — to tell the public to eat their modern pizza “ the wrong room ” ( i.e., by eating the crust first ) .
All of which naturally led to arguments — and lawsuits — over who really invented the stuff crust pizza. “ A pizza-making kin is suing Pizza Hut for $ 1 billion for allegedly stealing its idea for farce crust pizza, ” began an Associated Press story from November 1995. The lawyer for Angelo Mongiello said that his client had patented the stuffed crust pizza in 1987 — and had tied offered it to Pizza Hut to license — however the chain displayed no concern. Pizza Hut did acknowledge that it had rejected Mongiello ’ second proposal, but pointed to how Scheibmeir ’ s set about differed from Mongiello ’ s patent to prove it hadn ’ thyroxine stolen anything from him. In especial, whereas Pizza Hut ’ s stuffed crust had a continuous r-2 of cheese within the crust, Mongiello ’ s patent featured a separate pocket to be stuffed for each slice of the pizza .

In 1999, a court sided with Pizza Hut, though Mongiello however maintains he was ripped off. “ I ’ meter sure that person somewhere had something like, but I invented the Pizza Hut version of stuffed crust pizza, which is what people now know as ‘ stuffed crust, ’ ” Scheibmeir maintains. “ That ’ s my baby. ”
To her sharpen, other kinds of stuffed crust may predate Pizza Hut ’ sulfur. One pizza manufacturer in Brazil, for model, besides claims that he invented the stuffed crust back in the 1980s, and a pizzeria in Naples has offered a similar pie called “ Pizza Carnevale ” since the 1940s. Although the asteroid pizza is prepared differently — by folding stuffable pockets along the edges — it ’ south still, arguably, a type of stuffed crust .

What isn ’ thymine in dispute is how Pizza Hut kicked off a stuff crust arms race among its competitors. The first rival was little Caesars, which began selling a gorge crust of its own just six months after Pizza Hut ’ sulfur debuted. It was more or less the lapp as Pizza Hut ’ s — a standard interpretation was packed with mozzarella while another choice was crammed with tall mallow and pepperoni ( something Pizza Hut had started about a calendar month earlier fiddling Caesars ’ stuffed crust launched ). To up the ante a little bite, little Caesars topped its crusts with parmesan and garlic butter. It besides offered its stuff crusts for a mere $ 7.99, two whole dollars cheaper than Pizza Hut ’ south .
In the years since, Little Caesars has developed a number of extra-special forte crusts, some stuffed, some not — for example, the limited-time-only pretzel crust in 2014 and a stuffed pretzel crust five years late. In 2015, Little Caesars made possibly its biggest crust discovery by introducing a bacon-wrapped pizza. Featuring three-and-a-half feet of bacon, the pizza was made Detroit style, but with bacon cooked into the sides. ( little Caesars typically cycles these items on and off the menu, thereby creating a buzz whenever one of its more perturb monstrosities makes a exultant hark back. )

Super recently to the game, Papa John ’ s didn ’ triiodothyronine offer a stuff crust until late last class. “ This international relations and security network ’ t good stuffed crust. This is Papa John ’ s crust, stuff, ” the boxes for its “ Epic Stuffed Crust Pizza ” read. vitamin a far as I could tell, though, there wasn ’ thymine anything all that “ epic poem ” about it — at least by little Caesars ’ unholy bacon and pretzel standards. In fairness, I did slightly prefer Papa John ’ s stuff crust to Little Caesars ’, if only because it seemed slenderly less greasy. But it very has nothing extra to offer, largely making me wonder why the chain even bothered to create a stuff crust some 25 years after it first became — in Papa John ’ s parlance — epic poem .

For its part, Domino ’ s has remained above the affray, spending the last two decades improving its recipe and operations rather of finding more and more advanced ways to fuck with its crust. That said, it ’ s a different floor oversea, as international Domino ’ sulfur locations have pioneered menu items like peanut-sauce gorge crust pizza and tapioca-stuffed pizza .
All the while — and no matter how far little Caesars pushes things — Pizza Hut refuses to be surpass. Want hot dogs in your pizza crust ? Check. What about hot dogs with pretzels ? Yup. How about garlic knots ? The Hut ’ mho got that, excessively. Grilled cheese ? You know it. International Domino ’ s doesn ’ metric ton have anything on Pizza Hut either. overseas locations offer local anesthetic delicacies like cheeseburger-lined pizza crust, crusts stuffed with cream cheese and roe and a crust with fry cornflakes on it .

As such, Pizza Hut decided to do something truly particular in 2020 for the twenty-fifth anniversary of the stuff crust, releasing — for a limited time only, of class — what it termed the “ nothing But Stuffed Crust, ” or basically a ring of cheese-filled crust without a pizza in the in-between .

not that any of this bothers Scheibmeir. Her Frankenstein is everyone else ’ south Frankenstein to do with what they please — a monster begetting an army of monsters. In fact, she wouldn ’ t have it any other room. “ I precisely think it ’ second playfulness, ” she tells me. “ Pizza is a fun product, thus anything that makes it more fun, I say go for it. ”

Brian VanHooker

Brian VanHooker is a staff writer at MEL specializing in pop culture, food ( particularly pizza ) and long form oral histories. He is the co-creator of the comic book “ Barnum & Elwood ” and “ The Tramp, ” a drollery pilot starring John O’Hurley. He besides hosts a TMNT interview podcast called “ turtle Tracks ” and was once called a “ good ridicule ” by Mr. T .