The weirdest menu items in Pizza Hut history

Every business needs a unique selling point to survive, and the fast food game is no exception. McDonald's does quick, cheap burgers; Subway puts customization front-and-center; KFC has that secret recipe; Taco Bell will tear apart your gastrointestinal system. Everyone's got a gimmick.

Pizza Hut could have chosen any USP they wanted. They could have been the speedy pizza place, or the guys who use slightly better ingredients than everyone else. Hell, they'd have probably done well enough marketing themselves as the cheap but kinda tasty pizza place. But no — that's not enough for the Hut.

For reasons beyond anyone's comprehension, Pizza Hut appears to have shifted to a USP nobody could have predicted: crafting and selling the most deranged, bizarre, and outright weird pizzas in history. They've got cheeseburger crusts and movie projector boxes and poutine toppings and nobody's got any idea why — it's like some CEO demanded pure innovation one day and nobody's been allowed to go home since.

Pizza Hut's Double Sensation

First up on the nonsense carousel is Pizza Hut Singapore's Double Sensation. Released in 2012, this pizza seems to have been made by taking two smaller pizzas and stitching them together, like some kind of perfectly concentric Frankenstein's monster. The outer pizza has a crust stuffed with melted mozzarella, Parmesan, and cheddar, and is topped with turkey ham, bell peppers, and a mushroom and salsa sauce. The inner crust is stuffed with chicken sausage and cheese, and rings a pizza topped with smoked chicken, zucchini, and a pepper Alfredo sauce. At the exact center of the pizza is a cherry.

You've got to give Pizza Hut some credit for this one, on a number of counts. Firstly, the whole pizza-in-a-pizza shtick has literally zero purpose. None. You could argue it's an aesthetic thing, but only if you like pizzas that don't look like pizzas. Apart from that? Nada. And in a way, that's kinda impressive.

Secondly, the toppings appear to have been chosen based on which ingredients the company's stores tend to have left over at the end of a day. So props on the frugality, there.

Finally, however, you've really got to admire Pizza Hut's business acumen in only selling the Double Sensation during 2012's festive season — likely under the reasonable assumption that sales would plummet in January, once everyone had sobered up.

Pizza Hut's P'Zolo

The P'Zolo was the name given to Pizza Hut's incredibly misguided attempt to steal competition from Subway and other sandwich chains. But mostly Subway. Released in the U.S. in 2012, these pizza-sandwich hybrids were made from a doughy, cheese-infused crust and filled with a choice of fillings: Italian Steak, Buffalo Chicken, or the Meat Trio (sausage, pepperoni and ham).

Pizza Hut went in hard with the P'Zolo marketing, too. The item's tagline was "See Ya Subs," they were priced at almost exactly the same as a Subway sandwich, and advertisements implored customers to "Say so long to a footlong" and boasted of "More bang for your 5 bucks."

Subway themselves probably weren't too bothered by Pizza Hut's jabs, though, considering that — despite walking like a sandwich and talking like a sandwich — the P'Zolo wasn't really a sandwich at all. Instead, it was more like a bastard cross between the burrito and the calzone; one which HuffPost described as "nothing new." In fact, the only people likely to have been offended by Pizza Hut's aggressive rollout of the P'Zolo are the pizza makers themselves.

No problem there, though. If Pizza Hut ever brings back the P'Zolo, they could always take a slightly different leaf out of Subway's book by marketing them with the sandwich chain's 2019 slogan: "Sorry, Italy."

Pizza Hut's Mac 'N' Cheese Stuffed Crust Pizza

Speaking of pissing off the Italians, here's the Mac 'N' Cheese Stuffed Crust pizza. Introduced in the U.K. in 2017, this one is exactly what it sounds like. A stuffed crust and a béchamel base play host to a topping of macaroni, cheese sauce, triple cheese blend and crispy onions. And if that's not quite enough, Pizza Hut also created a version with a BBQ base and topped with a drizzle of BBQ sauce.

Gareth Hopley, Pizza Hut's head of communications, tried valiantly to justify the Mac 'N' Cheese pizza's existence. "At Pizza Hut Restaurants," he said, "we're constantly experimenting with new and innovative recipes as we want to create the tastiest menu around for our diners. You can't beat a bowl of Mac 'N' Cheese, and when combined with our famous stuffed crust — it really is a match-made in cheesy heaven. We can't wait for our guests to try it!"

Either the Mac 'N' Cheese pizza really did do well, or time heals all wounds, because in 2020 Pizza Hut released a personal version of the pizza at Target stores stateside. Although the crust wasn't stuffed with this one, and the pasta is rotini too — so really this is less of a Mac N' Cheese Stuffed Crust Pizza and more of a Plain Pasta Cheese Pizza. Which... well, maybe somebody likes it.

Pizza Hut's Cheeseburger-Stuffed Crust Pizza

Quick forewarning, here: you're about to see a lot of crusts. For some reason, Pizza Hut has tended to mostly ignore the one aspect of pizza-making that actually invites customization — the toppings — and instead spend all their energy coming up with as many new crust types as they can. For that reason, you are now entering Crustville; the weirdest town on the Pizza Planet.

First up is the Cheeseburger-Stuffed Crust Pizza. First introduced in the Middle East in 2012, this pizza was made up of a number of grilled mini cheeseburgers "nestled in golden crown crusts," circling a pizza topped with beef, fresh tomato, lettuce and special sauce. The restaurant also offered a chicken-based version, which was topped with breaded chicken tenders, chicken strips, green peppers and BBQ sauce. A year later, the Cheeseburger-Stuffed Crust Pizza spread to the United Kingdom with all the unsettling ease and swiftness of a zombie pandemic.

In both cases, the pizza's roll out was met with immediate criticism. Some attacked the 2,880 calorie beast for being representative of greed and waste, while others were content to complain about the sad, cold realities of the pizza itself. One critic called it a "cultural abomination," while another suggested the pizza might be "a sign of the apocalypse." So... a muted reception, then.

Pizza Hut's Meat Pie Crust Pizza

Never one to let themselves be beaten, Pizza Hut took their crust game one step further in 2015, when the chain's Australian stores debuted the Meat Pie Crust Pizza.

The item was part of a collaboration with Australian meat pie company Four'N Twenty, and came ready-prepared with a slew of bizarre, uncomfortable social media gags made by each company on Twitter. Apparently, both brands decided that the best way to market this gimmick was to pretend they (read: the brands) were in an intensely sexual relationship, publicly break up, and then announce that they'd had an unwanted baby as a result of that relationship. The pizza was the baby.

Yeah, welcome to corporate marketing in the 21st century. In a statement, Pizza Hut Australia's head of marketing explained: "Aussies love pizza and we love pies, so in a world first, we've brought these two legendary foods together in the crust, the perfect combination for the heart of the footy season. Pizza Hut is the home of Stuffed Crust and we're being more playful with our Stuffed Crust innovation than ever before."

The pizza itself is ringed with meat pies and topped with a number of ingredients, including bacon, onion, bell pepper and pepperoni. Words used to describe the pizza in The Guardian's taste test include: "cheap," "nasty," "disgusting," "tasteless," and "stupidly unnecessary".

Pizza Hut's Hot Dog Bites Pizza

This is probably the more famous (or notorious) of the Pizza Hut crust innovations. Pizza Hut's Hot Dog Bites Pizza is a standard pizza ringed not by a crust, but by a couple of dozen dough-encased pieces of hot dog. It hit U.S. stores in 2015, based on a recipe first used in the U.K. a few years earlier.

Shortly after the pizza debuted, E! News performed their own taste test. "It was very...interesting," said one reviewer. "Very unique. Was kind of expecting the hot dog to be like, fully wrapped in the crust. I probably would have felt a lot less guilty about breaking my diet."

Another of their critics was even more taken with the new item. "As a huge fan of binge eating both pizza and hot dogs," they explained, "this was a creation I have dreamed of for some time now. Did it live up to my own personal hype? Absolutely. [...] I would suggest this for a drunk late night, a hungover Sunday or really any child's birthday party."

Not all their reviews were glowing, though. One of their staff reported: "I miss the normal crust! Plus, the mustard taste in my mouth from the hot dog really doesn't go with the taste of pizza. So many mixed feelings!"

Still, if nothing else, the Hot Dog Bites Pizza's journey across the Atlantic felt like a genuine homecoming. As one E! Staffer said: "This pizza is what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they talked about the future of this great country."

Pizza Hut's Cheesy Beef Poutine Pizza

You might have noticed that many of these Pizza Hut creations have come courtesy of the chain's international branches. Despite that, there's usually not much logic behind what they actually put out — what's Singaporean about the Double Sensation; what's British about the Mac 'N' Cheese Pizza?

You can't say that here, though. In 2013, Pizza Hut Canada decided to go as Canadian as you can get by introducing the Cheesy Beef Poutine Pizza. This pizza is topped with french fries, cheese curds, and gravy (there's the poutine part) along with shaved seasoned steak and mozzarella. The crust, mercifully, is un-stuffed. The Cheesy Beef Poutine pizza was part of a "Something for Every Canadian" limited menu, along with an Asian BBQ pizza, a Creamy Butter Chicken pizza, a Grilled Chicken Club pizza, and a Smokey Maple Bacon pizza.

"Canadians are adventurous eaters who seek out a variety of tastes," said Pizza Hut Canada's marketing director, Beverley D'Cruz, at the time. "The Canadian landscape is changing and these new recipes are our way of celebrating Canada's diversity and multicultural outlook in a modern, exciting way, and tapping into Canadian favorites. Pizza night will never be the same in Canada."

D'Cruz went on to say: "We're definitely the only Pizza Hut chain in the globe to create a uniquely Canadian Cheesy Beef Poutine Pizza."

She wasn't wrong.

Pizza Hut's Marmite Stuffed Crust Pizza

Back to the crusts, here, with New Zealand's Marmite Stuffed Crust Pizza. In case you're not aware, Marmite is a salty, dark spread with British origins, made as a by-product of beer-brewing — and renowned for its slogan, "Love it or hate it." But here's the dirty little secret: everyone hates it. Marmite is disgusting. Anyone who tells you they love it is a liar, and if they don't admit they're lying to you after a couple of nudges, you need to reassess your relationship with that person.

So whoever thought it was a good idea to stuff a pizza crust with this stuff needs some kind of United Nations reprimand. Released in 2014, the Marmite-Stuffed Crust Pizza is made from a slightly different brand of Marmite than that made by the Western company that uses those iconic yellow-and-black jars; as such, it tastes slightly differently to what you might have eaten if you'd had Marmite before. But make no mistake: that doesn't mean it will taste any better. This is a pizza to avoid.

Thankfully, the Marmite-Stuffed Crust Pizza hasn't made any kind of resurgence since its debut six years ago, and we can all only assume that the remaining stock has been cast into the Pizza Hut Antarctic Vault, never to be touched again.

Pizza Hut's Hash Bites Crust Pizza

The Hash Bites Crust Pizza is the kind of thing that could only possibly come off looking normal on the tail-end of a list of other, madder pizzas. With that in mind, we've got to give Pizza Hut some serious props for exercising actual restraint with the creation of this relatively sensible pizza.

Introduced in New Zealand in 2016, the Hash Bites Crust pizza is pretty much just a normal pizza with a normal crust with tater tots pressed into it. The toppings can be anything you like, it doesn't look that outlandish and it's hard to imagine it doesn't taste pretty good, either. Obviously, there's still probably a group of rogue Italian chefs living in the Dolomites, stocking up on weapons and ammunition in preparation for their coming war against pizzas like this; but most other people won't be too bothered.

This particular pizza hasn't hit U.S. stores yet, and it's not likely to anytime soon, but around the same time Pizza Hut did release their Garlic Knot Crust in America, which proved popular enough to make a reappearance in 2019.

Pizza Hut's Fish Roe Salmon Cream Cheese Pizza

Oh, come on.

Okay. This is the Pizza Hut Fish Roe Salmon Cream Cheese Pizza. It is sold in Hong Kong. It comes in two versions: the first is topped with scallops, crayfish, shrimp, clams, cherry tomatoes, peppers, red onions and Thousand Island sauce. The other includes sausage, pepperoni, cherry tomatoes, peaches (!) mushrooms, peppers, berry sauce (!!) and the citrus fruit pomelo (!!!). When you bite into the crust, fish eggs ooze out.

Shortly after this thing's debut, Financial Times ran a piece on it that not only explained its existence, but also revealed just why Pizza Hut seems so obsessed with weird pizzas in the first place. According to Pizza Hut's chief marketing and food innovation office Kurt Kane, there are certain standard brands and menu items that make the chain what it is. But Pizza Hut also branches out and creates "wilder and wackier menu options" in overseas restaurants in order to generate buzz and get people talking about them.

In Hong Kong, Pizza Hut runs an annual three-day event where chefs, managers, and suppliers can plan future menu items and come up with "headline-grabbing products." They're mocked up with Play-Doh and then tested in a kitchen, before the best go to further testing before hitting stores. The Fish Roe Salmon Cream Cheese Pizza was one such example of these innovations.

So there you have it. Mystery solved. They do it for attention. And it works.

Pizza Hut's Hershey's Toasted S'mores Cookie

Finally, let's bring things down with some weird dessert. Pizza Hut offers a fair range of dessert items: you've got your brownies, your cookies, your cinnamon sticks — nothing too out of the ordinary. But that's not why we're here, is it?

This is the Hershey's Toasted S'mores Cookie Pizza. It is a massive cookie, topped with s'mores, melted marshmallows, chocolate, and graham cracker crumbs. It was introduced in 2016, for a limited time only, and made a comeback in 2018. At the time of its debut, Pizza Hut's vice president of marketing, Jared Drinkwater, said: "The new Hershey's Toasted S'mores Cookie builds on our history of innovative, delicious desserts, and brings familiar flavors together into one quality dessert that everyone will gather around the table — or campfire — to enjoy."

"Hershey's chocolate is synonymous with s'mores and summer," said the Hershey Company's Herb Ring, "making this new dessert, from Pizza Hut, a perfect twist on the summer classic. The new Hershey's Toasted S'mores Cookie builds puts an innovative twist on the classic summer s'mores dessert."

But that's all just PR posturing, isn't it? The important thing here is that the Toasted S'mores Cookie Pizza is big, weird, and completely unnecessary — but that's Pizza Hut, for you. Just be glad it hasn't got fish eggs in it.