Pizza Hut's newest pizza doesn't look like its other pizzas.
The chain is launching a new Detroit-style pizza, which ditches the traditional round shape for a rectangular crust with cheese to the edges that's popular in the Michigan city. It's Pizza Hut's second major product launch this month as the pandemic-era pizza wars show few signs of slowing down.
Pizza Hut said it tested more than 500 iterations of the new menu item, with several of those tests in the Midwest, ahead of the nationwide launch Tuesday. The chain used its own special "vine-ripened tomato sauce" because it found that it keeps the thick crust light and airy.
The new offering comes in four options, including the "Detroit Double Pepperoni" which Pizza Hut describes as a "work of pizza art" because it includes 80 pepperoni slices. The other options are the "Double Cheesy," "Meaty Deluxe" and the "Supremo," which has Italian sausage, red onions and green bell peppers. Prices start at $10.99.
Competition among big chains has been fierce during the pandemic, which has fueled a surge in pizza demand from Americans who are spending more time at home and avoiding dine-in restaurants. Sales and revenue rose last year at Pizza Hut, Domino's and Papa John's as consumers relentlessly shoveled pizzas down their throats.
Peter Saleh, a restaurant analyst with research firm BTIG, expects last year's rising sales to continue this year. "What we saw in 2020 was that many of these pizza delivery guys had a big boom in their sales because there was no where else to go," he told CNN Business. Several US states limit in-restaurant dining and have enacted capacity controls because of the virus.
Saleh predicts that pizza sales will remain healthy in 2021 as the "environment for dining continues to be challenged."