Pizza Hut has reformulated its signature pan pizza with a different cheese blend, crispier crust and more sauce — its first alteration in the item’s nearly 40-year history, the chain said Monday.
A newly engineered pan that has been in development for three years is now being rolled out to the Plano, Texas-based chain’s more than 7,400 locations nationwide. Pizza Hut’s senior director for culinary innovation and strategy, Penny Shaheen, said in an email that the new pan makes the crust “actually crispier.”
“While we can’t give away all of our secrets, I can tell you that our new-and-improved pan incorporates updated technology that produces a perfected, thick crust complete with crispy edges but a soft, chewy center,” Shaheen said.
She said they’ve also “increased slightly” the ratio of sauce to cheese on the pizza and are moving from switched from using whole-milk mozzarella to part-skim mozzarella for improved texture on the pizza “that gives a better bite and enhanced flavor,” she said.
Pizza Hut is promoting the Original Pan Pizza’s relaunch by offering a large 2-topping version of it for $7.99 at participating restaurants for customers who order it online.
Pizza Hut has had relatively flat sales over the past decade, with annual domestic sales ranging in the $5.4 billion to $5.75 billion range during that time. It’s rival Domino’s, by contrast, has seen a 112.8% increase in sales since 2009, when it reformulated its own pizza, according to NRN’s Top 200 data.
Other factors besides new pizza have contributed to Domino’s success, however, including early investment in digital technology that has made it a leader among restaurants in that arena.
Pizza Hut attempted a major menu overhaul in late 2014 with lighter offerings, new toppings and flavors that could be added to crusts and drizzled onto pizza. That move failed to spur sales.
For the quarter ended March 31, 2019, parent company Yum Brands Inc. reported flat same-store sales for Pizza Hut.
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