Here’s How Your Favorite Pizza Brands Got Their Names

Many pizza franchises are household names today but they weren't always.

pizza
DIMA SIKORSKY/SHUTTERSTOCK

No matter which pizza toppings you love at Hungry Howie’s, you’ve probably wondered if there’s actually a Hungry Howie behind them. Turns out, a man named Steve Jackson nicknamed founder Jim Hearn as “Howie” growing up because he compared him to Howard Hughes, and to Steve, Jim was a rich, successful man just like Howard Hughes. Steve suggested making use of the fun nickname “Hungry Howie’s” and Jim loved the idea and ran with it, opening the first location in 1973 in Taylor, Michigan. 

Seek creativity from employees

Dialing Domino’s is a no-brainer these days, but a couple decades ago, you would have called a different pizza parlor. In 1960, Tom Monaghan and his brother James bought DomiNick’s, a small pizza shop in Ypsilanti, Michigan. After purchasing two additional pizzerias, Tom 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, and James loved the idea and officially renamed the business Domino’s Pizza, Inc. in 1965. Here’s what your pizza guy is secretly thinking.

Architecture inspiration

The name Pizza Hut 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 a free sign that had only enough space for nine characters/spaces. While “PIZZA” had to be part of the name, they were stumped on the remaining space. Since the building looked like a hut, one of their wives suggested “PIZZA HUT,” and it just stuck. These are the crazy pizza toppings you’re actually going to love.

Wives are always right

The first Little Caesars location was in a strip mall in Garden City, Michigan. Founder Mike Ilitch wanted to call the business simply “Pizza Treat,” but his wife Marian didn’t like the name. She considered Mike her “little Caesar,” so she suggested the name, and the rest is history. 

Company merger

In 1995, Papa Aldo’s and Murphy’s Pizza merged, and so did their names.  Papa Murphy’s made the most sense and has remained the same ever since. Don’t miss the story of how the two-pizza rule made Jeff Bezos a millionaire.

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