Pizza Hut, one of the largest pizza chains in the world, is now testing what they call “Skinny Slice” pizza in 47 of their restaurants located in West Palm Beach, Florida, and Toledo, Ohio. Instead of being made with different ingredients, these new pizzas are made with the exact ingredients found in traditional Pizza Hut pizzas. The only difference is that both toppings and cheese are a little bit lighter and the crust is slightly thinner.
According to Dougants Terfehr, a Pizza Hut spokesman, for customers who enjoy pizza on a regular basis, this product might be appealing. A slice of regular hand-tossed cheese pizza is approximately 290 calories compared to the 210 calories for the same type of Skinny Slice pizza. That 30% difference in calories is what the company hopes will attract customers.
The concept of selling Skinny Slice pizza came from two things. First, a competitive market trying to attract customers based on the “product of the month” and second, to draw in more people who prefer casual fast food chains like Panera Bread and Chipotle that seem to offer higher quality and healthier food, over other fast food restaurants.
Terfehr admits that Pizza Hut works continually to find new ways to appeal to a much broader audience but without creating limitations for existing customers who love the more traditional menu items. However, Steve Green, publisher of PMQ Pizza Magazine, states that “diet pizza” is nothing more than an oxymoron and that execution of this concept has been tried before and failed.
In 2008, Pizza Hut began to offer customers the “Fit n’ Delicious” pizza, which will stay on the menu at least for now. Unfortuntely, there is a select customer base for that specific product because it comes on a thin crust. If one or both of the new Skinny Slice pizzas being tested do well nationally, there is a chance that the “Fit n’ Delicious” pizza will be replaced.
The term “skinny” is nothing new to the restaurant industry. In 2003, Applebee’s Restaurant joined forces with Weight Watchers, offering customers several low-calorie food items. Since that time, restaurants throughout the country have followed suit by rolling out menu items containing 500 calories or less.
Even the Cheesecake Factory made changes when in 2011, they began offering “skinny” cocktails, which consisted of beverages made with Splenda instead of sugar, thereby cutting calories by 50%. However, some restaurants have removed lower calorie foods from their menu to include Burger King who just this past month stopped serving the reduced calorie “Satisfries”.
Testing on the Skinny Slice Pizza Hut pizza just started and while there has been no support through television advertising, the slogan “All the taste and flavor that you love, but now with fewer calories”, has social media buzzing. This new pizza will cost around $11, the same as a traditional Pizza Hut pizza. However, with the large, two-topping special offered nationwide, customers can order the Skinny Slice pizza online for just under $8.
Pizza Hut hopes rolling out Skinny Slice pizza will have a positive impact on the problem of obesity but according to Green, it may have the opposite effect. His concern is that while people may have good intentions when ordering the Skinny Slice pizza, many will actually eat more of it.