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Monday, September 04, 2006

Pizza Hut Pete


The man with the floating hat is none other than Pizza Hut Pete. As far as I can tell, he started making pies for the pizza giant around 1965 and virtually disappeared in the mid-1980s.

[While he was named Pete, I've also seen him referred to on Pizza Hut paper items simply as "Pizza Man".]

The bag puppet shown here was probably given away in the early 1970s. I love how he is simultaneously giving kids the "thumbs up" and the "OK" sign to assure us that all is well at his pizza joint.

Pete's design caught my attention at an early age; most notably his floating hat, which usually hovered just above his head, and of course the fact that he had two eyes on the same side of his nose. Yes, Pete was always a beacon for classy pizza and good times.

I fondly remember having family meals out at the Pizza Hut in the 1970s and working the activities on the back of the kids' placemats. Here is one such placemat in which Pete shows the steps to make the perfect pie.




Here is the second edition of the Pete bag puppet from the late 1970s. Pete has a more refined or cleaned-up look here.

I've tried to compile a list of Pizza Hut Pete premiums and collectibles that I've seen over the years. Here's what I've come up with so far:
  • Bag puppets (2 different)
  • Coleco toy oven
  • Pizza Hut kids playhouse
  • Pete plastic bank
  • Stickers (at least 4 different)
  • Matchbooks (at least 4 different designs)
  • Server set (toy dishes)
  • Key ring
  • Playing cards
  • Glasses & mugs
  • Pinback buttons (2 different)
  • Uniform patch
  • Pete enameled pin (newer/retro)
  • Pete plush doll
  • Paper placemats (various, with activities on back)
  • Postcards (Pete featured on store sign or roof)
  • Swizzle stick
  • Store "Closed" sign
  • Pocket menu
Here are a few of the above-mentioned items.



Pete seems to be another advertising icon that is being lost to history, though he'll make an occasional appearance in an eBay auction. Pizza Hut doesn't seem to acknowledge him anymore, and there's not really anything written about him on the web... until now!

But Pete does live on, certainly in the memories of many kids of the '70s who, like me, remember gathering the family around a pepperoni pie, doodling on placemat activities and pondering the laws of gravity and that funny little pizza man under the hat.



45 comments:

  1. Man, that's awesome. I never even realized that Pizza Hut had a mascot. Why wasn't he doing battle with the Noid in the 80's? Or was he...

    Anyway, I was wondering if that picture of the Pizza Hut sign is recent or older? I was surprised that our Pizza Hut by me was still a sit down place as opposed to a carry out delivery. In fact mine won't deliver. I just recently sat down with some friends to relive the dine in experience http://smurfwreck.libsyn.com/index.php?post_id=112395. Great Blog you've got up btw.

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  2. Hi smurfwreck. Thanks for the nice comments. Regarding the picture of the sign... It is an amazing vintage Pizza Hut sign, but a recent photo. I had found it on the web maybe six years ago, and the photographer said it was from a store in San Antonio, Texas. I believe it was taken around 1996. It's quite possible that the sign still exists, which would be a great sight to see, since there probably are not many left. After some super detective work, I was able to locate the store's address thanks to the Mazda dealership in the background. I hope to get down there some day and see if the sign is still around.

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  3. Great stuff! Here in Jersey Pizza Hut was much more low key in the '70s than other parts of the country ... they started popping up in the late '80s, but these days they're kinda slow ... as for PETE, I'm amazed - a full fast food character I've never known 'til now! Thanks for posting all this - I understand where you coming from with Internet scarcity, etc. as I am a big fan of the '70s Burger King Kingdom. That's another un-uncovered ad campaign! Thanks!

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  4. Thanks for the comments. This has been fun reviving some old characters and reliving memories.

    I'm a fan of the Burger King characters too -- both the old cartoon King and they "live" King and his pals. I plan to do a post about them somewhere down the road after I've dug up some collectibles. Stay tuned...

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  5. Wonderful post! Pizza Man is possibly my favorite of all food mascots. At our local Pizza Hut we had a taller-than-a-kid size wooden Pizza Man. He wasn't a fully rendered statue.. he hung on a wall, but I think his features were raised so that you could feel his eyes and nose, etc.

    Looking forward to seeing what you dig up related to Long John Silver (from Long John Silver's) I've always had trouble finding images of him. I finally found him on an outdoor sign which I now proudly display in my TV room.

    Love the blog, and I added a link over at mine.

    thanks!

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  6. Thanks, Kirk. That's a great Pizza Hut memory. I believe I saw one of those large wooden Pete's on eBay earlier this year. I seem to recall it sold for a lot of money too.

    Good idea on Long John Silvers. I'll have to put that on my radar for a future posting. I remember Long John and his parrot, and there were maybe six other named pirates in the crew. I'll see what I can find. I know I have a few pictures at least. Stay tuned...

    PS - I love your Steve Martin "Jerk" Weeble! Awesome! I'll look into more of your blog soon.

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  7. -->> !@$#%#$%^%#&$%@##@&&**

    YOU ROCK OM GUH !! ~~** faintepilepticpizzacowabungaseizyre-faintagain!#!$@

    >v<

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  8. If you took the photograph of the Pizza Hut Pete bag puppet, would it be okay if I upload it to Wikipedia for an article?

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  9. if you took the photograph of the pizza hut pete bag puppet, would it be okay if I upload it to Wikipedia for an article?

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  10. rabble-rabble -- Sure, go for it!

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  11. Awesome write up on Pizza Peter (whose name I never knew). Loved those give-away plastic bag puppets as a kid! Here's another image from the internet:

    http://www.dahlinger.net/PHmenufront.jpg

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  12. http://retro-pizza.angelfire.com/stuff_place/pizza_pete1.JPG

    http://retro-pizza.angelfire.com/stuff_place/pizza_pete2.JPG

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  13. RetroPizza -- Thanks for the comments, and for the links to those pictures!

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  14. Does anyone have a picture of the old Pizza Hut to go packaging? It was a thin round cardboard piece surrounded by a kind of wax paper thatwas white i think and of course said pizza hut...it kind of looked like a prymiad. I can remember getting the pizza home and tearing it open to take in the beautiful aroma of a hamburger pizza (that my Dad and i used to order late at night). Would love to see a picture if anyone has one. Thanks!

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  15. I love all things vintage Pizza Hut, especially Pizza Hut Pete. I'm watching this auction on ebay for an old women's Pizza Hut uniform... http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&Item=190148687190

    I hope to win it and display it on a manequin (sp?) in the Pizza Hut I manage. Awesome post, by the way!

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  16. I know of a "Pizza Pete" wood sign(over 4 ft. tall)that was "discovered" behind a Pizza Hut over 30 years ago. What kind of interest($)might that generate on Ebay. It would be expensive to ship becuz of its size.

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  17. re: Pete sign --- I saw one on eBay a few months ago. It fetched a good price, maybe $125 but I don't recall exactly. Good luck.

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  18. Brandon, my boyfriend is obsessed with the whaffle whiffer. Do you know where I can purchase a figure, toy, poster, etc? Thanks!

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  19. Here is a pic of Pizza Pete..... I have this one under the bed ..... was done for a Pizza Hut TV commercial while Pizza Pete was still alive

    http://picasaweb.google.com.au/nick.monkey20/PizzaPete/photo#5194458896704058930

    Nick

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  20. http://picasaweb.google.com.au/nick.monkey20/PizzaPete/photo#5194458896704058930


    Pizza Hut Pete

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  21. I have two 1960s era Pizza Hut matchbooks featuring Pete. These are in mint condition and have never been struck. Before they go on eBay, I figured I would offer them to true collectors. If anyone is interested, my email address is midtownmallrocs@yahoo.com and I can respond with pictures and a set price.

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  22. Two Pizza Hut Petes stood watch on the sign on our old Pizza Hut. The store was in a strip mall and the sign was to resemble the red roof with the name Pizza Hut in the middle. The two Pete's flanked the name. In the early eighties, the store moved to a new traditional red roof building, but Pete did not make the move.
    GPMCTY

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  23. That would have been cool to see. Too bad it's gone now.

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  24. I hope that you don't mind but I used one of you photo's on my sight. I also posted a link to your site. I think that your site is great. I run a recipe blog and a friend of mine asked me to post a recipe for the pizza hut cracker crust from the 70's. I thought Pizza Pete was the perfect picture and you have the best pictures of him on the web. The page will be up after Jan. 20 2009. The address is http://web.me.com/burnettutah/Burnett/Recipe_Blog/Recipe_Blog.html. If you want me to pull the picture I can. Just click my e-mail button on the site and let me know. I hope you let it stay. Thanks for your site either way. -- William

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  25. Waffle Whiffer, I am so thankful that you did this article. This is actually the most I've found on Pete. On my desk at work I have a miniature Pizza Hut, an old Pizza Hut Beer Glass, and the coveted Pizza Hut Pete bank:
    http://pic20.picturetrail.com/VOL1620/1654499/20220036/328161491.jpg

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  26. My pleasure. I was surprised to find hardly anything about Pete on the web, so figured I should start it. Thanks for the comment.

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  27. Here is a real Pizza Pete I had made for the Pizza Hut "you're Welcome" TV commercial at the Engadine Pizza Hut in 1975..... They were life size Marine Ply cut outs that went either side of the Roof Letters...... This one survives today and my daughter Sophie has it in her lounge romm ( sick girl ) in Sydney...

    link to pic
    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=2172654&id=629402563

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  28. [:::} Nicholas -- Oh, how cool! I want to see it but I don't have a Facebook account. I'll have to sign up just for this. Thanks!

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  29. I have 2 1977 Pizza Hut Hats. One is red, white & blue with Pizza Hut Logo. The other one is red & white with logo. Both are in the range of good to fair condition. Anybody have any info. on collectable websites. Thank you.

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  30. hello there, I too am inyerested in such things I fondly remeber the bag puppets, awesome and I unfortunaley remember the day that our local Pizza Hut was remodled and Pete came down off the roof for good. thanks for the site i will be back

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  31. i am looking for the "pizza hut" chandelier or light cover over the booths they are normally made of glass and they are white and red and say pizza hut on them if anyone has any leads plz let me know @ tonyschweigel@ymail.com

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  32. I remember the light shades. I installed 100's of them in new Pizza Hutts. They were part of the decor upgrade ha ! In 1976 in Sydney Pizza Huts. They are not glas but are called "shell Shades" as the material imitates a shell derrrrhhh ! Good luck finding one.

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  33. Down here in Australia, we used to have Pizza Pete gingerbread men, with icing and hundreds & thousands on the back. Every time we went there, we got one. Oh, how I miss them...

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  34. We had to pull the Pizza Pete Gingerbread men from the line up. Originally hey were held in an old style cookie jar at the cash register... then they went into a yellow plastic mobile at the POS.

    They were pulled along with everything else that was Pizza Pete due to copyright issue with the owner of the image.

    Maccas spent millions developing Ronald MacDonald. Pizza Hut then did nor have the same resources and spent the money on media instead.

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  35. Thanks for the information on Pete! I only just now discovered him from an vintage book of Pizza Hut matches that features him (seen here http://www.flickr.com/photos/52614809@N02/4851728663/).

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  36. I have old pizza hut chandeliers - know where I can get rid of them?

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  37. I actually had one of the old Pizza Hut electric ovens. It was kind of the E-Z Bake Oven for boys. I would love to find the old tv commercial for that "toy".

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  38. I've worked for pizza hut for 3 years now,yo might be interested in the fact that Pizza pete still is a significent point of brand pride (at least with NPC Pizza Huts's). If you were to peak over the counter at any of our pizza hut's, you would find a large button with a cartoon drawing of him in the top right corner of the store software. Kinda the equivalant of a windows "start menu".

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  39. [:::] That's great to hear the Pete's still part of the team! Thanks for sharing that.

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  40. I would really like to know the address of that sign in the above picture. We happen to live close to San Antonio and I would be happy to see if the sign is still there and get you a picture if it is. My email is jeanniec29@yahoo.com. Thanks.

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  41. We've seen Pizza Hut Pete peek around the corner of an open doorway in a recent Pizza Hut commercial (with a guy singing and playing the guitar).

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  42. [:::] Anonymous -- Really? That's great news. I'll have to watch for it on TV.

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  43. That Pizza Hut sign in San Antonio is still there. It's on Fredericksburg Rd. You can see it in the Street View on Google Maps!
    https://maps.google.com/maps?q=4250+fredericksburg+rd+san+antonio+tx&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x865c5e41a31077bd:0x371745e7b467a1ab,4250+Fredericksburg+Rd,+San+Antonio,+TX+78201&gl=us&ei=5WF0UJG0HKuI2gXd_oGwAQ&ved=0CCEQ8gEwAA

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  44. I can't find any information on a hat that I found today. It is a wool hat with Pizza Hut Pete on a patch. It looks brand new but you can tell it is pretty old. Any ideas on where I can find more information?

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  45. [:::] Kelly -- I've seen those before. Probably from the 1970s.

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