Pizza Hut Raises Prices, Unveils New Strategy: Treat Cheese "Like An Extra Topping"

Pizza Hut has declared that cheese is a topping, meaning that plain pizzas and pies with one topping will now cost the same. The chain’s declaration comes in response to the rising price of block cheddar, the light sweet crude of the cheese market. Pizza Hut buys 300 million pounds of cheese each year.

Jennifer Little, a Pizza Hut spokeswoman, said the new strategy is to treat cheese “almost like an extra topping.” Little said the price change also could be justified because a typical cheese pizza has about 50 percent more cheese than a similar-size pie with one topping, such as pepperoni.

Papa John’s has no plans has no plans to treat cheese like a topping; the Pizza Hut rival hedged its cheese supply, guaranteeing steady prices through the summer. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER

Rising cost of cheese cuts into pizza profits [The Courier-Journal]
(Photo: Mr Waby)

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  1. vr4z06gt says:

    ummmm papa john’s pizza……

  2. philipbarrett says:

    At a recent convention for a certain, large(st) pizza chain I learned that 65% of all pizzas are still sold & delivered by mom & pop stores. Is that great news or what?

  3. faust1200 says:

    Papa John’s is no innocent party at least my local shop isn’t. Their delivery charge, yes that’s delivery charge has gone from $2.00 to $2.50. And the coupon that I always use called Big Papa entitles you to an extra large (not sure how many inches but BIG) with two toppings for $11.99. However on my last order I saw their new coupon and it’s for $12.99. For some reason they still gave me the old price. It should be mentioned however that until now the old prices had been in effect for several years. Does Pizza Slut have a delivery charge? Does that mean you can tip less? I still tip normally like 4-5 bucks. Hardly a great deal here. But yeah I still go back.

  4. Falconfire says:

    I can believe the mom and pops are kicking the chains asses. We have all three chains in my city but I’d be damned if I knew anyone who went to them with the 7 mom and pops we have that have a loyal rivaling on fanboish like base.

  5. mopar_man says:

    If you don’t mind taking your pizza home and baking it yourself, there’s a chain called Papa Murphy’s that make delicious pizzas that are very reasonably priced. If you join their e-mail newsletter, you’ll also get a coupon for different pizza each month that usually saves you at least $2-3. Otherwise, yes, mom & pop pizzas are always the best and usually on par with chain pizza pricing.

  6. Chaoticfluffy says:

    So wait, does that mean I can get a pizza with less or no cheese for…less money? I have a sneaking feeling the answer to that is “no.” In which case…I smell something unfair about this whole “cheese = topping” deal!

  7. ironchef says:

    this just in…Pizza will consider the crust as a topping too.

  8. k8supergrover says:

    Will they start treating sauce as a topping? I can’t have the sauce…would save me a ton!

  9. mac-phisto says:

    i haven’t had to do the calculations in about a decade, but a large pie costs somewhere around $0.20 to make…until you add the cheese. xtra cheese is the most expensive topping you can put on a pizza.

    i could be wrong, but i think domino’s already charges the same for a plain pie or a 1-topping.

    if you’re still eating papa john’s or pizza hut, then i feel sorry for you…you obviously don’t have any “real” pizza nearby. there’s a few good places near me, but when i’m really jonesin for some garlic knots & grandmas, i train it to 86th street in brooklyn for some calamari’s.

  10. mantari says:

    @faust1200: Does Pizza Slut have a delivery charge?

    If you really lust for the crust, does it matter?

  11. Namrepus says:

    I love Papa Johns. They had one near my college campus and the e-mail pizza ordering was a godsend cause they’d deliver right to the dorms.

    Pizza hut is too greasy for me and always gives me an upset stomach when I eat there.

    There was one place near me that had a 56 inch pizza for $12. Free Delivery as well. I ordered 2 of these for a pizza party at school ones and honest to god the pricipal freaked out when I picked them up at the door cause of how large the boxes were. Dunno where they got the boxes either.

  12. AcidReign says:

    …..Pizza Hut will never get my business, till they change their rancid sauce.

  13. bpotterr says:

    I’m having a hard time finding fault with Pizza Hut since the brought back the P’Zone.

  14. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Now that our nation’s domestic cheese supply is being utilized to make valuable cheesahol, this was bound to happen.

  15. Promethean says:

    the Pizza Hut rival hedged its cheese supply

    As much as I’m kicking myself for not putting more of my portfolio into cheese futures, it consoles me, and should be noted by other readers, that we are currently in the middle of the biggest cheese bubble the market has ever seen.

    ;)

  16. umonster says:

    Cheddar? Pizza’s supposed to be topped with mozarella. Peasants!

    BTW, I’ve also noticed a trend where both the chains and the mom-and-pops are increasing the amount of cheese they put on a regular pie, thereby destroying the delicate balance between sauce and cheese. It’s worse when you order a topping like mushrooms. Then they add even more cheese over it. Pizza shops can save money and make better pizza if they simply dialed back the cheese count to traditional levels.

  17. markedward says:

    Does this mean when you order your pizza you have to ask them for the cheese? They’ll probably throw the cheese on without you asking, but even though it’s a topping (and toppings are supposed to be optional), they’ll require you to have it. If that’s the case, then that is, in essence, similar to going to a convenience store, buying a gallon of milk and the store requiring you to buy some chocolate powder.

  18. roche says:

    Pizza Hutt has the worst pizza EVER

  19. reznicek111 says:

    Like other commenters above have mentioned, I think Pizza Hut’s crust is too greasy, and their sauce overly sweet. Sure, I ate my share of it in high school and college, but now I find it tastes like “kid stuff” – it’s the sugary breakfast cereal of pizzas. Domino’s is slightly better-tasting, but I tend to avoid them for other reasons.

    And as umonster said: what’s up with the tons of cheese on pizza nowadays? Not everyone likes a monolithic slab of molten/congealed cheese overwhelming the Holy Trinity of crust, sauce, and formaggio. ;)

    Having grown up on New York style, my perfect pizza has a crisp, chewy, fresh-bread crust, non-sugary sauce, and just enough lightly browned savor its network of lacy sauce-peepholes.

    …and pretty much only the place you’ll find a pizza like that any more is a mom-n-pop shop. I, for one, hope they keep their 65% market share.

  20. hobear23 says:

    I used to work at Pizza Hut right after I graduated high school. Cheese is the most expensive thing there, and I got bitched out if i used more than the specs, it was like 1/2 cup on a pizza with toppings, a cup on a cheese, and a cup and a 1/4 cup on an extra cheese.
    Donato’s is the king of specs though. Every pizza was weighed, toppings could only weigh so much a piece, and any toppings that fell on the prep table or floor were weighed and announced that night how much you wasted.
    So glad I got out of food prep. I’m a Vet Tech now, and make 15 bucks an hour now, though their is more literal shit involved.

    also, my managers at Pizza Hut had sex and smoked crack in the walk in refrigerator. NASTY.

  21. faust1200 says:

    @hobear23: Um, do you know if that Pizza Hut is accepting apps? I have a umm friend that’s interested.

  22. Scuba Steve says:

    Wow.. didn’t know you could post IMG tags in the HTML formatting here… not the smartest ideal in the world, especially with the way comments work, but I digress.

  23. timmus says:

    In my small town, the Pizza Hut racked up the 2nd highest count of health department violations — just behind Church’s. Contrast that with zero violations at Dominos. So now Dominos is who I go with.

  24. faust1200 says:

    @mantari: Ha. At first with the embeds I couldn’t tell who left this picture but now I see. Excellent picture! I lust the crust!

  25. happymeal says:

    Where I live Pizza Hut does charge for delivery, they just started this actually. They also don’t tell you about it even if you ask. I ordered a pizza with a coupon for $7.99, the total came to $10.05 I asked why so much. The schmo on the phone says there is $1.80 service charge, I ask for what service, he says “It’s just something we do now.” WTF??

  26. Thrust says:

    Since you get more cheese on a plain cheese pizza, aint’ such a big deal calling it your “one topping”. Many places don’t give you more cheese on a plain pizza, and charge twice the extra topping charge for cheese.

  27. beyond says:

    Our pizza huts charge for delivery. Extra cheese as an extra “topping” costs twice what any other topping does. Some coupons now even say “up to 3 topping excluding extra cheese” bla bla.

    I’ve noticed though that even when you DO ask for extra cheese, you don’t really get much extra cheese.

  28. BrooklynMike says:

    You can’t get a good fresh mozzarella slice at Pizza Hut, Papa John’s or Dominos, so until then, mom n pop all the way.

  29. ColoradoShark says:

    @: Fat chance on a discount for less cheese. We have food allergies in the family and usually order two pizzas. One regular and one no cheese. Never once have I received a discount.

    Maybe they have been looking at the way banks charge fees. There is a ‘cheese only’ fee which is equal to the ‘single topping’ fee which is the same as the ‘no cheese causes confusion in the kitchen’ fee.

  30. backspinner says:

    that pizza looks disgusting. i feel sorry for people who don’t have good local pizzerias.

  31. MommaJ says:

    Pizza Hut serves something, but it’s not pizza, and the reference to cheddar cheese is the definitive proof. Reminds of the time I was visiting a small Midwestern town and everyone was excitedly awaiting the delivery of the TACO pizza. So sad.

  32. Chicago7 says:

    They should go to Trader Joe’s – the price of cheese hasn’t gone up there!

    Why would anybody buy a Pizza Hut pizza when making pizza is so easy?

  33. Chicago7 says:

    @MommaJ:

    The don’t actually use Cheddar Cheese. That’s what I thought, too, when I first read the above. But reading the article, Cheddar Cheese is just the benchmark for cheese prices and since the price of Cheddar has gone up, ALL other cheeses, including Mozzarella, have gone up.

  34. Chicago7 says:

    People are gonna be shocked when they order a sausage pizza and they don’t get any cheese on it!!!

    Yikes!

    Sauce will be a topping next and then if you order a sausage pizza, you’ll get the usual 8 tiny pieces of sausage on crust! Hahahaha!

  35. balthisar says:

    What’s funny about Pizza Hut — and *most* pizzarias — is that they charge on a per-topping basis. BUT… the more toppings you order at the same per-topping price, the less of each topping you actually receive. This applies to cheese, too, unless you order extra cheese.

    Example: you order a pizza with Italian sausage, and it’s $2.00. So you think you have $2.00 worth of Italian sausage. Now you order a pizza with Italian sausage, Canadian bacon, and tomatoes (fresh, not that sun-dried stuff), and you think that you’re going to get the same $2.00 worth of sausage, peameal bacon, and tomaters altogether, but it just ain’t so.

    Of course, the pizzeria’s right not to load your pizza with too much crap; it’d be a pretty bad pizza. It needs balance. But you’re charged for it all anyway.

    Now as stated above, I’m guessing that the same applies to cheese, i.e., if you order *only* cheese, they’re giving you a “full portion” of the cheese (i.e., “more”) rather than the diminished amount that they would give you if you’d ordered a topping.

    As far as commercial pizza goes, I’m partial to Little Caesar’s because they have the best sauce, and the bread’s not too bad (the sauce provokes heartburn, though!). Sauce and bread really are what make the pizza. Of course I prefer the mom and pop place at the corner. I’m never satisfied with the pizzas I make at home; my oven will only get up to 550°F or so. The grill will get up to 650°, but I’m really looking for just a bit more than that. Yeah, I’m nuts, but I know of which I speak. ;-)

  36. balthisar says:

    Gosh, I forgot to mention that you’ve not had an awesome pizza until you’ve had a Detroit style pizza. It’s square, thick crust (like a “pan” pizza), and baked, but the baking pan uses extra-virgin olive oil as the lubricant, and so the dough also fries as it cooks. Even though I said “Little Caesar’s” above, “Buddy’s” is strictly-speaking a chain (just not national) and is by far the best chain pizza you can get. If you want mom and pop, the early history of Buddy’s truly lies in the current “Cloverleaf” in Eastpointe just south of 10 Mile on Gratiot. Man, if you’re ever in the area looking for pizza, that’s where to go.

  37. Shaggy says:

    @balthisar: Hell yes, Buddy’s is incredible pizza. Probably the best in Detroit.

  38. Thrust says:

    @balthisar: Little Caesars (at least the ones in my city) DO give you full topping amounts for any topping you pay extra for, but only until the amount of toppings compromise how the pizza will cook.

    I should probably do one of those “Confessions of a Pizzaria” posts with all the Little Caesars secrets I know from working there. (Words to the wise, don’t order Italian Cheese Bread)

  39. Cary says:

    What does the price of cheese have to do with Pizza Hut?

    Petrolium yes. Dairy product?

  40. RebekahSue says:

    @umonster:

    BTW, I’ve also noticed a trend where both the chains and t…:
    i feel sorry for people who don’t have good local pizzerias.

    I’m lucky: Connecticut has some of the pest pizzerias in the country. When people move out of state, when they come back to visit they take their families for their “first real pizza.”

    My first apartment was across from Sally’s, where politicians go and where Frank Sinatra is rumored to have gone during tour stops in New Haven. (This evening, my friend and I went to an Italian festival on the same street. Mmmmm, fried dough! and we parked far enough away to walk off some of the fried greasy goodness.)

    The place we went when we were kids, after school, now sells their pies frozen for $4. When the weather cools off, I’ll grab one on my way home to work.

  41. RebekahSue says:

    DUR! I was trying to tell umonster to tell the restaurant to “go light on the cheese.” It looked fine on the preview! It’s a conspiracy, I tell you, to sell more cheese.

  42. Havok154 says:

    I knew I liked Papa John’s better for more than just their good taste. Of course, neither can compare to a real pizza from an independent pizza shop.

  43. Rusted says:

    Giovanni’s in Leesburg, Virginia. They have real Italians making the pizza. Chain store pizza, not as good but better then what’s in the freezer case.

    Since I’m now almost completely lactose intolerant, comes that important question, can a pizza be be a pizza sans cheese?

  44. WolfDemon says:

    “I used to work at Pizza Hut right after I graduated high school. Cheese is the most expensive thing there, and I got bitched out if i used more than the specs, it was like 1/2 cup on a pizza with toppings, a cup on a cheese, and a cup and a 1/4 cup on an extra cheese.”

    I currently work at a Pizza hut. We use a lot more cheese than that on our pizzas.

  45. Kurtz says:

    I worked at Pizza Hut when I was in college. I will not eat their pizza unless I have no other options, and even then I’ll think twice. The grease trap in our store overflowed constantly, and we would be lucky if it was fixed the following day. But I digress…

    Back when I worked at the Hut we would get bitched at regularly for using too much cheese. We were supposed to scoop the shredded cheese into a cup relative to the size of the pizza, dump it on the pizza, and then spread it out over the sauce to the edge of a plastic ring fit over the pan (also relative to the size of the pizza). We were “marked down” if we didn’t ensure that the sauce was covered with cheese. However, there wasn’t enough cheese in the cup to cover the sauce. So, we would always dump on more cheese to cover it up. It was easier to deal with being lectured as a group for using too much cheese than being individually dressed down for not covering the sauce.

    We also used cheese as an eraser. If a cook made a mistake and put the wrong topping on, say pepperoni on a veggie lover’s, and it was a rush or the cook was lazy, then they would just cover it up with cheese. If the customer didn’t see at pickup or delivery, they would accept the pizza none the wiser. And when they discovered the mistake and called back to complain, most times the driver would get blamed for taking the wrong pizza.

    Ahhh, the memories…

  46. bigvicproton says:

    pizza hut does not actually make pizza…they make something but it sure is aint pizza…

  47. sly100100 says:

    No different than McDonalds charging .25 cents for extra bbq sauce or tartar sauce. Christ! it’s a condiment not a condom! :)
    All for the almighty dollar!
    Whats next charging for more than one sheet of toilet paper!?

  48. econobiker says:

    being an ex-NJ boy familiar with Trenton and Philly tomato piesI have to ask “is Pizza Hut getting into the “tomato pie” business?”

    [en.wikipedia.org]

  49. econobiker says:

    @Rusted: see my comment above for the wikipedia link- possibly some near pizza-like help for your system…

  50. mac-phisto says:

    @RebekahSue: some other greats in connecticut (if you ever find yourself outside of the haven): bacco’s in waterbury (greek-style), barb’s in west hartford (if you like olives, try the barrel olive pizza)…there’s also a decent greek place across the street, bella’s or adina’s in watertown (not too far from vasi’s).

  51. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    Pizza Hut is horrible anyhow, good riddence…

  52. Chicago7 says:

    OMG! Trader Joe’s raised the price of cheese!

    This economy is going straight to hell. Stagflation, coming soon.

  53. Thrust says:

    I rather like Pizza Hut. One of the few places where the cheese still tastes like cheese (though they could lighten up on the deep dish oil).

    Little Caesars (Canadian at least) cut 90% of the Muenster and 100% of the cheddar out of their cheese mix, leaving this pile of crap on the top of the pizza that looks and tastes like styrofoam, and doesn’t brown when cooked.

    Pizza 73 (now property of Pizza Pizza) used expired cheese that they buy from Saputo and freeze until needed, and for some reason they cannot help but burn every pizza they make.

    Dominos sauce tastes like they roll corpses through it, and their crust is so dry you can get slivers in your mouth from eating it.

    Panago… Who else can get away with charging thirty bucks for one f’ing medium pizza? At that price you’d hope it tastes good, but Nooooooo.

    And Chuck’E’Cheez has the alltime best pizza, but won’t let anybody under 17 in unless they’re supervising a birthday party for kids. Probably doesn’t help that I pick on the moron in the mouse suit…