We here at Pizza Hut have the privilege of working on and delivering one of America’s most beloved past times, pizza. This is a privilege that we do not take lightly. Every product that rolls out to customers has been tested and retested. But, it’s not just the cheese and pepperoni that get put under the microscope. We concern ourselves with the entirety of the customer experience, and that includes the unsung hero of every successful Pizza Night, the box it comes in. Our in-house team of Pizza Hut Engineers conduct research and testing that backs up every square inch of the pizza box, from the way it folds to how much it weighs.
Recently, Pizza Hut’s Engineering department partnered with a group of Engineering undergrads at Johns Hopkins University to enhance our popular thin crust pizzas. We call them Thin N’ Crispy® for good reason, and that’s the satisfying crunch the crust delivers when you bite into it. The challenge was to preserve the crunch, finding a way to ensure that it stayed at optimum crispiness whether a customer picked it up from the store or had it delivered.
The six-person project team made up of sophomores and juniors, dedicated an entire semester of study on how to improve the design of the packaging with the thought that a new design could prevent over-steaming and help maintain that fantastically crispy crust. They applied a college student’s true passion for pizza and submitted our humble pizza box to all manner of highly scientific testing. They filmed it with an infrared camera to study how heat was escaping the box, studied the cardboard itself under an electron microscope, and ate a TON of pizza.
Makes that volcano you built for the Science Fair in 7th grade seem a little phoned in, doesn’t it?
After nearly a dozen prototypes, the students were able to ascertain that the most obvious solution of providing extra ventilation actually caused the temperature of the product to fall too quickly. Instead, they found that an oil absorbent material in contact with the bottom crust can improve product crispiness.
After a semester of living and breathing pizza, the students presented their findings to our Engineering team thus kicking off the first steps to real-world impact on our pizza boxes and their ability to protect the delicious crunch of our beloved Thin N’ Crispy® crust.
A big THANKS to this brave group of students at Johns Hopkins University for helping Pizza Hut continue to find ways to deliver the best possible customer experience. Your fellow college students and Thin N’ Crispy® lovers everywhere salute you.
JHU students Michelangelo Fichera, Madelaine Else, Brennan Lee, AJ Bizub, Michael Tershakovec and Brendan Shannon pose with their Pizza Hut swag at the end of their project presentation.