Yum! Brands owned Pizza Hut is one of the world's most famous restaurant brands. Not only is it found in 86 countries around the world but it boasts over 13,400 restaurants and annual sales of over $12 billion. You might think that such a brand is done innovating after delivering countless millions of pizzas to the citizens of these 86 countries but you'd be wrong. These famous firsts achieved by Yum! Brands (NYSE:YUM) owned pizza hut show that not only does the famous pizza chian have a history of pushing the envelope, but that it is just getting started.
1. First pizza delivered to the White House
Imagine working at a Pizza Hut location in suburban Washington, D. C. and getting the order of a lifetime: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. That is just what happened to a Maryland based Pizza Hut restaurant in 1989 when it was asked to deliver pizza to The White House by First Lady Barbara Bush for a pizza party being thrown for her "Reading Is Fundamental" program. While it is possible that The White House kitchen staff had the day off we kind of doubt it. It takes a lot to become a global brand like Pizza Hut and one of the things it takes is to be universally accepted, including at the nation's most famous address.
2. First pizza chain named after a building
Why exactly is the world's #1 pizza chain named Pizza Hut? Well the answer is simple. Economics. Not only was the pizza chain started by two college-age brothers who had never made a pizza before in Wichita, Kansas, but the small brick building they originally occupied (on Wichita States' campus) didn't have any way of letting the world know it was a pizza shop. So a local Coca-Cola distributor let the brothers have a sign with only enough room for 8 or 9 letters for free. Given the humble beginnings of the chain in a brick building that more or less looked like a "hut" it is easy to see why the worlds #1 pizza chain can adapt to any situation. Also, just in case you were wondering, the original "Pizza Hut" at Wichita State is still open!
3. First pizza delivered to space
That's right, you read correctly. Pizza Hut was the first pizza to be delivered to and consumed by astronauts in space. Don't let the statement fool you however. Such a feat is not as simple as calling Houston and ordering a large pizza with peperoni and mushrooms. The event required a year of preparation by both Pizza Hut and Russian scientists in order to deliver a pizza that could feasibly be consumed in space to the International Space Station. Unfortunately for competitors Papa John's International (NASDAQ:PZZA) and Domino's Pizza (NYSE:DPZ) the space race is over and Pizza Hut won.
4. First online pizza order
In this age where people are shopping online more and more, Pizza Hut was the first pizza chain to accept an order over the Internet. In 1994 (a full year before Amazon.com was even created) Pizza Huts' "PizzaNet" accepted an order for a large pizza with pepperoni, mushrooms and extra cheese and the Internet age was born – kind of. While many competitors caught on and now almost every competitor allows online ordering for your favorite pizza, it's important to remember this milestone in the digital age.
Foolish bottom line
It is clear the Pizza Hut is a one-of-a-kind organization that has pushed the envelope in many ways. Whether it's delivering pizza to the White House or more than 200 miles above the Earth's surface, this restaurant juggernaut Yum! Brands continues to expand. Despite the fact that it has over 13,400 restaurants globally, well ahead of Domino's at 10,000 or Papa Johns at 4,300, it isn't done yet in its goal of delivering a pizza to every door. The company currently plans to make further inroads in India, a nation of over a billion people where it has a much smaller presence that competitor Domino's, and build upon its strengths in China where it is already a force to be reckoned with. Yum! Brands shareholders should continue to look for this $12 billion dollar in sales brand to continue to add to both the top and bottom line as it furthers its dominance as the world's #1 pizza restaurant.
Sean O'Reilly has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Papa John's International. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.