How 5 Leading Pizza Brands Got Their Names

Which pizza chain founder’s nickname was inspired by legendary billionaire Howard Hughes?



The Hungry Howie’s website lists its blonde-haired mascot as one of four famous Howies, including Howie Mandel, Howie Long and Howie Dorough of Backstreet Boys fame.

 

Hungry Howie’s

Nicknames FTW
Steve Jackson, Hungry Howie’s CEO and a former delivery driver, bestowed the nickname “Howie” on founder Jim Hearn when they were growing up. Why? Jackson compared Hearn to Howard Hughes, because, to Jackson, Hearn was a rich, successful man—just like Hughes. When Hearn opened his first pizzeria location in Taylor, Michigan, in 1973, Jackson suggested using the fun nickname, and Hungry Howie’s was born in 1973!

 

Domino’s

Seek Creativity From Employees
In 1960, Tom Monaghan and his brother, James, bought DomiNick’s, a small pizza shop in Ypsilanti, Michigan. After purchasing two additional pizzerias, Monaghan wanted the stores to share the same branding, but the original owner prohibited him from using the DomiNick’s name. An employee suggested the name Domino’s instead; Monaghan loved the idea and officially renamed the business Domino’s Pizza, Inc. in 1965.

 

Pizza Hut

Nine Was a Lucky Number
This megachain’s name was inspired by the former bar that founders Dan and Frank Carney rented to open their first location in Wichita, Kansas, in 1958. Pepsi provided them with a free sign for the restaurant, but it only had room for nine characters/spaces. They knew “pizza” had to be part of the name, but they were stumped on the remaining three letters. Since the building itself looked like a hut, one of their wives suggested “Pizza Hut,” and the name stuck.

 

Little Caesars

Wives Are Always Right
This carryout brand’s first location was in a strip mall in Garden City, Michigan. Founder Mike Ilitch wanted to call the business Pizza Treat, but his wife didn’t like the name. She liked to think of Mike as her “little Caesar,” so she suggested that evocative name, and the rest is history.

 

Papa Murphy’s

When Take-and-Bake Companies Collide
In 1995, West Coast take-and-bake leaders Papa Aldo's and Murphy's Pizza merged, and so did their names. Papa Murphy's made the most sense for the new company’s name, even though there is no actual Papa Murphy!

 
Edit Module

Tell us what you think at or email.

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Articles

Kesté Offers All-You-Can-Eat Special Loaded with Artisanal Neapolitan Pizzas

Roberto Caporuscio’s famed pizzeria in Williamsburg, New York, lets customers load up for two hours at a time every day.

Gordon Ramsay Made the Ultimate Sacrifice For Charity—He Took a Bite of Pineapple-Topped Pizza

The celebrity chef compared the texture to moose poop and called it “an Italian tragedy.”

To Spark Resurgence, Pizza Hut Will Hire 14,000 Drivers Through the Remainder of 2017

The chain will also use a new algorithm to make better predictions of when pizzas will arrive at customers’ doorsteps.

Papa John’s Moves into Facebook Ordering with 25% Discount Offer

Customers can use the Facebook Instant Experience to order pizza without ever leaving the app.

Pizzeria Locale Raises “Kneaded Dough” for SPCA Shelter in Cincinnati

Fifty percent of every sale will go to the animal shelter when customers mention SPCA Cincinnati at the register.

Domino’s Pays Mooving Tribute to Cows with Special Week-Long Offer

For National Cow Week, customers can get 50% off their pizza—on one condition.

Domino’s Set to Usurp Pizza Hut as No. 1 Pizza Chain This Year, Industry Analyst Says

Pizza Hut U.S. portrayed as a weak link in the Yum! Brands portfolio in CEO’s statement.

One Mac & Cheese Pizza Wasn’t Enough for Pizza Hut UK, So They Created A BBQ Version

Megachain rolls out two LTO specials designed for kids and kid-food fans alike

Recipe: Chef Tony Conte’s Beet Tartare Is Perfect Summer Side Dish

Crafted with beets, mangos and herbs, this specialty dish is as stunning as it is delicious.

Robot Waitress Reportedly Helps Double Sales at Pizza Shop in Pakistan

The technology is still shaky, but an Oxford University study suggests that the robot takeover may come sooner than expected.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags