Pizza. A staple of American diet. It’s the universal go-to what you eat when you need to feed a lot of people. It’s a reward for kids. A true classic, seen at birthday parties, corporate meetings and college dorms. It’s what you give interns and volunteers as “pay” instead of money. And one of the biggest players in the pizza biz world: Pizza Hut. Pizza may seem like a pretty straightforward endeavor, but Pizza Hut always has some kooky new “take” on their product. And who better to shill these innovations to the American public then our social betters: CELEBRITIES! While it’s not strange for celebs to appear in restaurant ads, Pizza Hut has picked some unusual choices over the years. Let’s look at a few, shall we?
Ringo Starr & 75% of The Monkees
Ringo Starr, the Beatle who will never, ever take his sunglasses off, took center stage in this ad for “stuffed crust” pizza. There was a good chunk of the mid-90’s when Pizza Hut was really selling the idea of “eating pizza crust first”. It’s a clever slogan, I suppose, but let’s consider what happens if you decide to follow Ringo down this method of eating. You chomp down all the crust first, and (assuming your taste buds weren’t burned off by shoving a tube of hot cheese in your mouth) you’re left with a dripping glob of cheese and toppings WITH NO HANDLE. You may as well eat pasta with your bare hands, or a grilled cheese sandwich without the bread. You had Ringo, a beloved promoter of peace and love, tricking a generation into being left holding a wad of grease! No wonder the 90’s were so cynical!
It’s pretty amazing to think what a big deal Rush Limbaugh used to be in the entertainment world. Now he’s pretty regulated to the radio and hard-core conservative functions, but in the 90’s, the guy was EVERYWHERE. Another “stuffed crust” ad promoting getting your hands disgusting as you eat, this one is sort of remarkable, as it features some pretty outright skepticism for its spokesperson. America’s forefathers come back from the grave to haunt their portraits, giving “oh please, girlfriend” takes in response to Rush’s self-aggrandizement.
“Don’t go there!” - G. Washington.
It is time for the eating of the pizza, Comrade! At the time is ad came out, Gorbachev said he did the ad because eating pizza “brought people together”. So this was basically like an ad for world peace, that just happened to feature a fast-food chain! “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall, and join me around a delicious Meat Lovers pizza!” - R. Reagan. Hey, if you wanted an ex-Russian political leader to star in your pizza ad, Gorbachev is definitely your best choice. I heard they asked Putin to star in a Domino’s campaign, but the PR firm disappeared under mysterious circumstances after they brought him the wrong kind of bottled water on shooting day.
Willie Nelson & Waylon Jennings
It’s hard to think of these guys as eating pizza, right? I could see them singing the praises of oatmeal, the beef industry, or the idea of “drinking”, but pizza almost seems too modern. I know they aren’t cavemen or anything, but something about it rubs me the wrong way. Oh, and I guess two legends of music doing a fast-food ad rubs me the wrong way, too.
Pizza Head had his own talk show from the 1960’s and well into the 80’s, and was introduced to a new generation of fans in the late 90’s as an accident-prone adventurer. He was tragically found cold in his Los Angeles home in 2002, where he was indifferently eaten by a UCLA student who claimed to be coming off of “a hell of a bender”.