Food

Pizza Hut customers get a little swice on their slice with new LTO

The chain’s latest research and trends are guiding the culinary team toward the flavors and pizza styles most in demand.
pizza with pepperoni
Pizza Hut's new Hot Honey Pizza and Hot Honey Wings will debut nationwide at the end of the month. | Photo courtesy of Pizza Hut.

Pizza Hut’s trend spotters predict that demand for sweet and spicy flavor profiles will continue to remain high in 2024.

To feed the “swicy” demand, the Plano, Texas-based chain is introducing a Hot Honey Pizza and Hot Honey Wings nationwide at the end of January for a limited time.

The Hot Honey Pizza starts with a choice of crust, topped with marinara, cheese, classic and crispy cupped pepperonis, and a drizzle of sauce infused with red habaneros and a touch of honey. The Hot Honey Wings are available boneless and bone-in, coated in sweet heat flavors.

Hot Honey Pizza starts at $11.99, and a six-piece order of Hot Honey Wings is $5.99.

“At Pizza Hut, our commitment to modernizing flavors is at the forefront of our brand identity. We lead trends and go bigger on flavor, as exemplified by the tremendous success of our Hot Honey test, which exceeded guest expectations,” said Rachel Antalek, the chain’s chief food innovation officer, in a statement. “This bold innovation not only elevates our pizza experience but also opens up exciting opportunities to showcase our wings.”

Pizza Hut’s new LTOs tap into the surge in sweet and spicy pairings on menus, up 38% in the last year, according to Chicago market research firm Datassential.

Pizza map

Pizza Hut's consumer survey reveals pizza preferences across the U.S. | Map courtesy of Pizza Hut.

But Pizza Hut also commissioned its own consumer research at the end of 2023, partnering with OnePoll to survey 5,000 Americans on their pizza preferences. These are some of the findings that may have an impact on future pizza innovation:

• New York (35%) topped the charts as the most popular pizza style. Parmesan (55%) is the preferred seasoning, except in New York, where garlic salt is favored (29%). Respondents lean towards savory (52%), hearty (34%) and spicy (27%) flavor profiles.

Pepperoni reigns as the preferred meat topping (42%), with exceptions in states like Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin, which favor sausage.

• The most popular types of pizza crust are thin crust (28%), stuffed crust (20%) and thick crust (14%).

• Dipping sauces play a significant role in enhancing the pizza experience. Ranch is the most popular (38%), followed by garlic sauce (27%) and hot sauce (8%). Some states, like New York, stand out for preferring hot sauce.

• Pizza lovers also shared they’d be willing to try several unusual fruit and veggie toppings on their pizza that they usually wouldn’t go for: pineapple (44%), chili peppers (21%), artichokes (16%), potatoes (15%) and pickles (14%).

• Peppers overall are in, according to Pizza Hut. From roasted sweet peppers to bold, spicy peppers.

• Toppings that should be banned include fish (23%), beets (21%), blueberries (15%), plums (14%) and kiwis (14%). 10% wouldn’t ban anything.

• About one-third of respondents (31%) plan to eat more pizza in 2024. Fridays (47%) emerge as the most popular day for pizza orders.

• North Dakota, New York, Minnesota, and Wisconsin top the charts as the states with the highest pizza consumption.

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