We Can Thank Pizza Hut For Online Ordering

If you're older than Gen Alpha, you probably remember the days of ordering pizza over the phone. Before folks could use services like DoorDash for delivery, pizza was one of the rare meals that could be delivered straight to your home — and for some time, the fact that you could call it in from your couch was revolutionary. But in 1994, shortly before Pizza Hut introduced stuffed crust, everything changed. Pizza lovers in Santa Cruz, California became the guinea pigs for a Pizza Hut invention that ultimately revolutionized the internet. That's right, the pizza chain is essentially responsible for creating online ordering.

In the '90s, the internet was still new. Few popular retailers had an established online presence, let alone an ordering service. Not until Pizza Hut collaborated with its Santa Cruz location did the dream of rapid deliveries without verbal communication become a reality ... sort of. The company's first digital ordering service was called PizzaNet, and it was home to one of the first online orders ever: a large pepperoni pie topped with mushrooms and extra cheese (a far cry from the worst Pizza Hut pizza of all time).

There was one snag, however. Since the internet was still unfamiliar territory, the pizzeria took the precaution of calling each customer's phone number to confirm their online order. While the desire for extra assurance is understandable, it did kind of defeat the new technology's purpose.

PizzaNet changed the future of food delivery

Since the internet was still in its infancy, PizzaNet's design wasn't anything spectacular. It was a basic pilot program operated through a web software called Mosaic. At the time of its launch, PizzaNet was still technically a work in progress, so completing payments through the website wasn't an option. Customers could only pay once their delivery arrived, but it was no doubt still fun for users to request their go-to pizza order on new technology. In fact, if you want to see what it was like to order one of these pies pre-21st century, you can still access the website. While you can't use it to actually place an order (you'll just get redirected to Pizza Hut), you might be able to feel like a '90s Sandra Bullock in her infamous online pizza ordering scene from "The Net."

Unfortunately, PizzaNet never expanded past Santa Cruz, but it did inspire more online food ordering. By 1995, another food delivery website called World Wide Waiter was born. It was only available around Northern California, but it partnered with around 60 participating local restaurants. It was, in essence, the '90s version of modern-day apps like GrubHub, and it helped set the stage for online food ordering to become mainstream by the 2000s. Ultimately, it's likely that none of this would have been possible without PizzaNet, so the next time you order something online, be sure to thank Pizza Hut for its cultural contribution.