Back in November, Pizza Hut announced the first major rebranding in its 56-year history. The new Pizza Hut would offer spinach and banana peppers, balsamic and buffalo “drizzles,” and sriracha—lots and lots of sriracha. It would replace stale and tired combinations of pizza toppings with a list of fresh-sounding ingredients that appealed to consumers’ growing desire for customization. It would also try to appeal to health-conscious eaters, with 250-calorie “Skinny Slice” options.
Now, in what appears to be an effort to bolster its efforts in that last category, Pizza Hut says it is introducing cheese and pepperoni gluten-free pizzas at select restaurants in the U.S. starting Jan. 26. (Dining side note: This is also the day that you can earn a credit for a free burrito at Chipotle.) The gluten-free menu items are being offered in collaboration with gluten-free food brand Udi’s and the Gluten Intolerance Group. The 10-inch pizzas will start at $9.99 and be cut into six slices. To ensure as best as possible that the pizzas are truly gluten-free, their ingredients will be stored in a “designated gluten-free kit” and the employees preparing them will wear “gloves, bake the fresh-to-order pizza on parchment paper and use a designated gluten-free pizza cutter,” Pizza Hut explains.
Yum! Brands, the parent company behind Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and KFC, is scheduled to release its Q4 2014 earnings in early February, which may contain some clues as to whether Pizza Hut’s rebrand and image improvements are carrying over to its bottom line. In the meantime, it’s anyone’s guess how real customers (and not the old Italian people Pizza Hut recruited for an ad) are feeling about its new offerings.