Pizza Hut: Wear Your Seatbelt, Get Free Pizza

Here’s another one for the “Book It!” haters, Pizza Hut is giving away free pizza to Ohio High School kids if they’re seen wearing their seatbelts during Ohio’s “Buckle Up for a Successful Season” campaign.

Pizza Hut has recently undergone intense scrutiny from academics concerned about the childhood obesity epidemic. Pizza Hut sponsors the “Book It!” reading program, rewarding students who read with one personal pan pizza a month, and drawing ire from Susan Linn, a Harvard psychologist and co-founder of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.

We have fond memories of Book It!, so perhaps we’re biased, but apparently Linn takes issue with giving kids unhealthy food as a reward for doing something they should already be doing.

We wonder what the Book It! haters will have to say about Buckle Up for a Successful Season. Better a little bit chubby than dead, we think. —MEGHANN MARCO

Buckle Up For A Successful Season [Ohio State Patrol]
(Photo: maggiejp)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Youthier says:

    I’m sure these high schoolers get their coupons and think, “God, now I HAVE to eat junk food.” It’s a gateway.

  2. Matthew says:

    I was surprised at how tiny a minority I seemed to be in on the last Book It! board. I applaud all efforts to get corporate sponsors out of elementary schoolrooms. Book It! is for Pizza Hut’s benefit, not young readers’.

    I don’t know what the deal is in Ohio, but in adjacent Michigan where I grew up, buckling up is the law. Will the Hut give out “free” pizza for stopping on red?

  3. pmm says:

    I have fond memories of Book it! also, so it’s hard for me to be objective :)

  4. mopar_man says:

    I see nothing wrong with Book It! I see something wrong with irresponsible parents who don’t know how to properly feed their children. I grew up with the Book It! program and I’m not obese. My parents knew better than to feed me fast food 6 days of the week. Linn is just trying to put the blame on somebody besides shitty parents. I think that she’s probably one of those said parents.

    As for this seatbelt program, I think it’s a good idea. I don’t really understand anybody who doesn’t wear a seatbelt, whether it’s the law or not. Getting them into the habit of doing it is a good thing, whichever method is chosen to do so.

  5. crossn81 says:

    Book It was a great program. One personal pan pizza a month is not going to make you obese, but I’m sure lots of kids were willing to read an extra book for that pizza.

    Linn also needs to note that book reading is a sedative activity, so maybe it causes obesity too!

  6. Dude I really don’t think that one personal pan pizza per month is going to affect the child obesity epidemic that much.

    If the kid is in danger of being a fat ass from pizza hut, Book It! Isn’t the cause of it. Maybe the kid could read some diet books while he’s at it.

  7. Henri says:

    The obvious solution to child obesity is to not teach them how to read so Pizza Hut can’t lure them into a life of tasty decadence.

    Then, if they can’t read, they can’t pass their drivers test….

    Or their parents can teach them how to eat properly. Maybe they should start sometime before they are old enough to drive themselves to the mall.

  8. Matthew says:

    It’s not the one pizza a month; it’s the notion that fast food is a reward.

    But quite apart from the very troubling child obesity problem, kids should be safe from corporate marketing while they’re inside schools. Like I said, it surprises me that so many Consumerist readers disagree with that idea. Corporate promotion in schools is far more insidious than product placement in movies for grown-ups, or ads on your cell phone, both of which draw universal ire from the Consumerist crowd. Book It! lets the foxes into the henhouse, I tell you whut.

  9. EvilTapioca says:

    I grew up with the Book It! program also and I’m a fat ass but thats my of my own doing.XD Accelerated reading is also an awesome program to encourage reading,I got a free gameboy advance on year. :D

  10. ZonzoMaster says:


    Well yeah about the Book It! program it could give the kid a notion that junk food is good, heck, maybe it will end making a kid relating junk food and school, and school is suposed to be a good thing.

    Kids are easy to influence, if they are being subject to commercials in school they might end up getting a wrong idea of junk food.

  11. @Matthew: I’ll bite, to a limited extent. I get the message that you’re conveying (loud and clear), though, I think with respects to “Book It!” that the pros outweigh the cons. Rewarding children for reading? — typically a good thing.

    On the other hand if this were an insidious plot for Pizza Hut to brainwash children at a young age and lure them into the trap of unrelenting fast food addiction, well… That’s a bad thing. Where do you draw the line though?

    At least Pizza Hut promotes a book? It’s becoming increasingly harder to reach out to kids in the internet age, and rewarding them seems to be the best way of reaching through to them.

    I’ll toss you a bone though: What about schools recruiting those kids to sell hundreds of dollars of magazines for the sake of getting a CD player (of which the companies have gained the revenue back from 10 fold) or some other stupid frivolity. I remember them actually stopping classes to pull each middle school class into the auditorium so that we could all drool over the chance to get a Nintendo 64 that was practically unattainable. Magazine Subscriptions or Book It?

  12. … trying to force comment to show using evil post twice hack.

  13. Husker-fan says:

    of course the “book it” program is for Pizza Hut’s benefit. They’re trying to ingraine a positive memory of their product that will be carried with us from childhood.
    That fact does not make it a bad thing. As others have said, one six inch diameter personal pan pizza per month will not cause obesity, but it can sure motivate a child to read .
    The program has motivated children I know to spend a little less time with a game controller in their hand, and a little more time with a book.

    As for getting corporations out of schools … well, good luck with that.
    Corporate invasion is everywhere. From the Nike swoosh on damn near every article of clothing, to the Dell, Apple, Gateway, Microsoft, etc. logos on the very computers kids are using as part of their education.
    I think you would have more luck getting corporate sponsorship out of schools if you chose to start with a corporation that wasn’t actually encouraging children to read and learn.

    I support Pizza Hut’s efforts on both fronts.
    How can it be bad to encourage kids to read, or to wear their seatbelts?

  14. karmaghost says:

    First off, Book It! is a program that I was never involved in, but I know people who were and they loved it. It’s a “relic” of a time when people weren’t up-in-arms about childhood obesity, or at least, not as much as they are now. From what I know about it, Book It! seems(ed) like a great way to reward kids with something they want for doing something that they might have little motivation for doing in the first place.

    Second, I’m going to avoid the Pizza Hut promotion of kids wearing seatbelts and just go straight to the issue; why on God’s green earth would you not wear your seatbelt? There is no reason what-so-ever for not wearing one. They’re not “uncool,” they’re not uncomfortable, and using one takes a split second and almost no effort. Even if they weren’t cool to wear, were slightly uncomfortable, and took a minute or two to fasten, they’re benefits are immense and proven. When I hear news reports about people killed in car accidents, I get sad… unless they report that they weren’t wearing their seatbelts, at which point apathy kicks in.

  15. karmaghost says:

    @something_amazing: I suggest the more useful, less “evil” Shift+(click)Reload hack. It works for me in Firefox.

  16. myls says:

    Okay–as a teacher I’m opposed to Book-It (though I have never encountered it in a teaching situation) and similar programs. Why? Well, it has to do with effective pedagogy, (teaching methods) especially effective pedagogy relating to moral development.

    Kohlberg, a predominant researcher in moral development, ('s_stages_of_moral_development) proposes that there are basically 3 levels of moral development (see site for stages/more details) ranging from pre-conventional (punishments and rewards) to post-conventional (acting on one’s own moral code, either internal or inspired by one’s responsibility to society. Pizza Hut, and other programs, emphasize the first stage of moral development. A student does something valued by the school, (reading or wearing a seatbelt,) said student gets a reward (pizza.) Most teachers want to foster a higher level of moral development in their classrooms than just action/reward or action/punishment.

    Now for why this is important for consumerists. Being a responsible consumer requires being at a higher level of moral development. The lower a person’s moral development is, the more suggestible the person is. A person with low moral development is more likely to consume based on pressure from outside sources, whereas a person with higher moral development is more likely to make his or her decisions based on whether they mesh with life goals or moral codes.

    Just a thought.

  17. Hexum2600 says:

    Wait. Fast food isn’t a reward? Like, eating proper meals 7 days a week and then only on Saturday or Sunday allowing yourself to have, lets say, dessert?

    LOL Thats how my parents taught me to eat properly… they also taught me that the secret is moderation. Excluding anything completely at some point makes people indulge in excess.

    Look at alcohol.

  18. Hexum2600 says:

    @myls: My problem with your comment is that you hold people to a higher standard than the animals that most of them are. Don’t confuse your hopes for the human race with your expectations which must be feasable and actually obtainable.

  19. myls says:

    @Hexum: You’d be surprised and what a good situation/role models can do.

    And there’s nothing wrong with hope–that’s kind of what the Consumerist sells. (In a figurative sense, of course.)

  20. @karmaghost: Rock on. You’re a golden god.

  21. mac-phisto says:

    pizza for buckling up your seat belt? wow. we’re really lowering our standards with today’s youth, aren’t we?