Our post last week about “How To Game The Salad Bar” reminded commenter power lurker of the Chinese way of playing the game at Pizza Hut. See, in America when you tell people their salad bar is limited to one plate, they shrug because no American eats salad. But in China in the mid to late 2000’s, they turned into a competition to see who can create the tallest and most elaborate salad tower.
Apparently what happened was that in Pizza Hut in China had a deal on its salad bar where you could get one plate for 28 renminbi. That’s actually not that cheap for most Chinese, but they swiftly realized the deal’s fatal flaw. Yes, the horizontal space was limited, but not the vertical. Thus, the salad towers were born.
You arrange some hard fruits, apply a thick mortar of dressing, create a base platform out of a ring of carrots, and get stacking. Concentric rings of interlocking cucumber slices were a popular exterior motif. Also popular was to top it off with an attractive arrangement of orange and tomato slices. Some of them reached nearly a foot in height.
Sadly Pizza Hut got rid of all the salad bars in its Pizza Huts in China in 2009. Though that was a couple of years ago, there’s lessons in this story that are relevant today.
The company’s response was that salad bars were being removed as part of an overall menu expansion but one Pizza Hut official told a Beijing paper that it was because of the losses incurred by the “salad towers.” Which is too bad, because really what they should have done is capitalized on this naturally occurring fad, reimbursed the local franchises for their salad bar, and turned it into an official game. Why not host some Pizza Hut salad bar stacking competitions? It would have been a great branding opportunity. Do you know how much money and time companies spend trying to artificially manufacture customer interest and engagement like that? And then just charge by weight.
Here’s a video showing how you start building a salad tower:
The Amazing Salad Towers at Pizza Hut China [My Shanghai That’s Shanghai] (Thanks to power lurker!)