There’s nothing better than a warm, melt-y, chocolate-y cookie straight out of the oven. Literally, nothing. And for those of us who are baking-impaired, or just don’t have time, the best way to get one of those is by ordering a Pizza Hut Ultimate Hershey’s®; Chocolate Chip Cookie. [Time out: Pizza Hut has a cookie? Yes, and it’s dope.]
If this is news to you, you’ve either been living under a rock for the last year, or you’ve been wasting your time struggling to make your own cookie goodness. How Pizza Hut came to make cookies is another story entirely, but pull up a chair, because it’s a good one. We sat down with Susan Riley, the Associate Brand Manager who worked to launch the Pizza Hut cookie last year, to get the lowdown on how Hershey’s and Pizza Hut partnered for one epic dessert.
Pizza Hut had been looking into making a cookie for around five years before Susan came on board to the effort. Cookies were viewed as a big opportunity, and when some other restaurants started launching their dessert options, Susan and her team were challenged to create Pizza Hut’s first ever cookie in sixty days. Normally, it takes three to six months to bring a new product to our restaurants nationally. So, yeah.
Susan, only in her third month working at Pizza Hut, rallied the troops. Working with Operations, R&D, Finance, QA, Engineering, Digital and Marketing, they knew two things: they had to make the best cookie ever, and that they were going to work with Hershey’s. Through two weeks of brainstorming, they screened different cookie shapes, sizes, and recipes. Susan says, “I was eating a lot of cookies at the time, along with my R&D partner, Barbie King. We would be on the phone at 11 o’clock at night discussing the ratio of chocolate chips to dough, or which supplier could support the entire US restaurant system. It was weird but also kind of great.”
Susan and Barbie were testing recipes specifically to make sure our cookie had the most chocolate, as well as what Susan calls “that ooey-gooey feeling”;soft, warm, melty, fresh-out-of-the-oven. Our cookie would taste like a home-baked cookie, but without spilling flour all over your kitchen or having to wash an egg beater at the end of your work day. We wanted it to be the type of cookie where you could pretend that you baked it yourself from Grandma’s secret, super easy recipe.
Working with Hershey’s was mission critical to achieving these goals. Hershey’s makes the tastiest chocolate around, so we wanted to make sure customers knew we meant business when it came to making the best cookie out there. Susan and the team landed on the magic recipe, brought the cookie to a food photo shoot with our agency partners, had Barbie star in our TV commercial, and launched—almost exactly 60 days from their kickoff meeting.
The Ultimate Hershey’s®; Chocolate Chip Cookie was an instant hit. The sweetest creation to come from the Pizza Hut kitchen is beloved by those who try it, and remains one of our most popular items on the menu. When you can order a freshly baked cookie, have someone bring it to you personally, and don’t have to clean the dishes after enjoying that melty goodness, everyone wins. Especially those of us in Dallas who were here for last year’s launch, and greeted with this milk and cookie cart making the rounds at PH Headquarters on cookie’s first day!
What’s next for Susan and the team at Hershey’s? Hopefully not another 60-day race to the finish line, but we wouldn’t be mad if they brought their chocolate-tasting expertise back for round 2! Sweetness is just getting started here at Pizza Hut—and stay tuned to Flavor News for all our upcoming product news!