Putt putt to the Pizza Hut so the kids can take home this bag puppet featuring Pizza Hut Pete for hours of fun long after the pizza is gone.
Pizza Hut had humble beginnings, with the first location in a small brick building in Wichita, Kan. With a $600 loan from their mother in 1958, brothers Frank and Dan Carney opened the doors to what would become America’s most popular pizza brand. Within a year, through franchising, there were six locations.
Pizza Hut Pete began his years as chief mascot in 1963, as Pizza Hut developed their iconic restaurant buildings. Both the building style and Pete appeared side by side on restaurant drinking glasses, ashtrays, menus, and matchbooks. Diners experienced dark wood paneling, red-checkered tablecloths, glowing red-glass candles, and a jukebox playing all the hits. A 13-inch shrimp pizza was available for $2.60, while the Pizza Supreme was $3.
In the 1970’s, Pizza Hut Pete was re-drawn for a more modern look, and was also featured on a bag puppet before being phased out for a new logo that capitalized on the iconic roof style. A neon Pizza Hut Pete still tosses pizzas on a Pizza Hut sign located in San Antonio, Texas, but it appears it is the last of its kind.
The Carneys, who had opened their first Pizza Hut when Frank was 19 and Dan was 26, sold the brand to PepsiCo for $300 million in 1977. PepsiCo spun off its restaurant holdings, including Pizza Hut, into Yum!Brands in 1997.
The original Pizza Hut’s building was moved to the Wichita State University campus and opened as a museum dedicated to the development of the brand in April 2017. The Carney brothers are both graduates of WSU. Frank Carney passed away in 2020 at age 82.