NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — Pizza chains are pushing convenience and value this Thanksgiving Eve, hoping to bring in record sales and win customer loyalty on one of their busiest days of the year.

Yum Brands Inc.’s Pizza Hut, Domino’s Pizza Inc. , Papa John’s International Inc. and Pizza Inn Holdings Inc. say that on the night before Thanksgiving, families are looking for something easy, low-priced and broadly appealing as they prepare for a cooking spree the following day.

As a result, pizza sales on Thanksgiving Eve are up there with New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day and Halloween, coming in behind Super Bowl Sunday, which is hands-down their biggest day of the year.

The competition on this day is significant, because the pizza chains know that if they draw in consumers at the start of the holiday season, they could win their loyalty for all the other big pizza-ordering days that follow. Doing so could be crucial with dairy prices rising and the tough economy putting pressure on consumer spending.

This week, Pizza Hut launched its new Big Dinner Box deal, which is essentially one giant box including two medium rectangular one-topping pizzas, eight wings and five breadsticks for . 99, compared with its $26 value.

“We know that our customers need a value-conscious option that can feed a crowd during the holidays,” said Chief Marketing Officer Kurt Kane.

The limited-time offer is unique in that it holds a combination of pizza and side items in the same package. But other chains offer meal deals, too.

For example, some Domino’s locations are offering a large, one-topping pizza, eight-piece stuffed cheesy bread, and eight chicken wings deal for $19.99.

Domino’s just launched its stuffed cheesy bread, with television ads starting on Sunday. To promote the launch, Domino’s nationwide is offering a variety of stuffed cheesy breads and medium two-topping pizzas for $5.99 each, with an order of two.

Pizza Hut expects to sell about one million large pizzas Wednesday, which is about half of what it typically sells on a Super Bowl Sunday. It also expects to receive 275,000 orders for its new Big Dinner Box.

Meanwhile, Domino’s expects to sell about 1. 1 million pizzas of all sizes, compared with 800,000 on a typical Wednesday. For the Super Bowl, it was expecting to sell more than 1 million large pies.

“There are a few reasons for today being so big: it’s a huge travel day for families; people are arriving home at different times, so delivery is a great food option; and a lot of people don’t want to be in the kitchen tonight because they’re going to spend all day in there on Thursday,” a Domino’s spokesman said.

Pizza Inn is also expecting to see a boost, offering a buy-one-get-one-free deal on Pizza Inn deliveries Wednesday at its corporate-owned stores in Dallas/Fort Worth, where the roughly 300-unit chain is based.

“Families are focused on devoting the entire day tomorrow to cooking. Pizza…provides the perfect alternative to cooking,” said Kendra Shier, vice president of marketing.

Papa John’s, which was unable to immediately comment for this article, remains another major player in the space. It recently brought back its large, double-layered pepperoni or six-cheese pizzas for $11 to appeal to value consumers, looking for more than just a low price.

While Pizza Hut has been credited with the largest market share in the U.S. for some time, with 26.3% share last year according to Euromonitor International, Domino’s and Papa John’s have been gaining speed this year.

Pizza Hut’s U.S. same-store sales declined 3% in its third quarter, compared with a 3% rise at Domino’s and 5.3% jump at Papa John’s.

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