Pizza Hut and Gluten Free? GAME ON.
You’re heard the big news… Pizza Hut is partnering with Udi’s and starting Jan. 26th, will now have a gluten free pizza option in 2400 locations. YAY. Okay, so- if you’re anything like me, you heard this and thought… “ummm….that’s crazy cool- but how in the WORLD is that going to happen? All I see are gluten free train wrecks at Pizza Huts across America!” Am I alone in this!? Oh, you thought the same thing? Then read on…
Pizza Hut and Udi’s knew this big announcement would be met with both hope and skepticism. So, to help spread accurate information about the process they are rocking out, they held an intimate press event last week at the Pizza Hut Headquarters in Plano, TX. I (along with several others bloggers- I LOVE meeting other gluten free bloggers) were invited to attend. Full Disclosure, I was totally compensated to attend this event and to participate in a twitter party that night. I am very open about the fact that I have amazing gluten free sponsors and my blog is my job (isn’t that great?! I’m SO grateful). That being said- Udi’s doesn’t want their bloggers trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes. They wanted us to come see the process for ourselves and form our own opinions…and form them I did. PS- I’m not being paid for this review and all of these opinions are MY OWN. K… moving on. ooooo-sassy Diva is here TODAY!
DRUM ROLL PLEASE… HERE ARE YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED:
UMMMMM…. WHY ARE THEY DOING THIS?
- Pizza Hut said they get asked about a gluten free pizza ALL the time. So…they listened.
WHEN WILL THIS START?
- Monday- January 26th, 2015 (TODAY!)
WILL GLUTEN FREE PIZZA BE IN EVERY PIZZA HUT?
- No, Just in a select 2400 stores, you can visit their website MONDAY, JANUARY 26th to see if they are listed in your area. They are starting small.. After the success of these stores, they hope to expand the number of stores involved. UPDATE: I have LIST OF STORES HERE!
ARE THEY JUST WARMING UP UDI’S PIZZAS THAT I CAN BUY AT THE STORE?
- Nope- they are using Udi’s gluten free crust (yes, the ones you can buy at a store) and Pizza Hut’s naturally gluten free toppings.
HOW BIG IS THIS PIZZA? IS IT JUST A PERSONAL PAN PIZZA?
- A personal pan pizza is 6 inches. Your gluten free pizza will be a 10 inch pizza- it’s the ONLY pizza they have that’s 10 inches.
WHO IS TRAINING PIZZA HUT ON HOW TO HANDLE MY PIZZA?
- That would be GIG, the Gluten Intolerance Group of America. They are like the gluten free police. You guys, they were there at the press event and have been with Udi’s and Pizza Hut through the whole process. In fact, on a personal level, the GIG rep attending was a woman that I trust (Hi S.B.!) When I walked in and saw her, I smiled… she doesn’t let anyone get away with anything when it comes to the safety of the gluten free community. I LOVE IT!
OK, HOW IS THIS GLUTEN FREE PIZZA BEING MADE?
- Although employees will have been through a training process, they will still have a “step by step” card to read and follow as they go.
- New gloves are put on by the employee. Note- when making regular pizzas, pizza hut employees do NOT wear gloves. This will be a gluten free pizza making specialty… and it’s a good one.
- They will reach into adedicated box at the top of the freezer (stored on top so no crumbs can land on it) and snag the udi’s pizza crust and lay it on a pan lined with fresh parchment paper.
- Next, they will dress the pizza with the sauce, cheese and pepperoni (if you order pepperoni). Here’s the important part: the sauce and toppings are stored in PURPLE container labeled “gluten free.” SO- NONE of your toppings, sauce or cheese will come from the line where the gluten is.
- The pizza will go on a conveyer belt oven to be cooked.
- When it comes out on the other side, they employee will slide it directly into the Udi’s/Pizza Hut box.
- The pizza will be cut right there in the box with a cutter (this cutter is a a different model than the normal pizza cutters) and is also stored in a special purple box.
- They will close up the box and bring it to you!
HOW DID IT TASTE?
Amazing, The combo of a professionaly oven baked crust with Pizza Hut’s sauce and cheese made for a explosion of flavor. Thumbs up.
HOW ARE THEY GOING TO TRAIN THESE EMPLOYEES?
- Online training happened last week for all current Pizza Hut employees in the participating stores. All new hires will have to go through an online training process as well as work with a manager before they can make the pizzas. The managers want this to work, it’s a WIN for everyone! And if they see any problems, they will contact corporate (who is very involved) so they can make any changes needed.
HOW DO I KNOW THIS TRAINING WILL CONTINUED TO BE FOLLOWED?
- GIG will have regular audits at random Pizza Huts. Also- Pizza Hut does regular audits too.
HOW DO I KNOW THE TEEN WORKER WON’T MESS THIS UP?
- I’ve heard this question a TON this past week. And let’s be honest, you don’t. But EVERY SINGLE time you eat out, you are taking the same risk by companies that don’t have a training process in place.
WHAT ABOUT FLOUR FLYING AROUND IN THE KITCHEN?
- Check this out… EVERY store that offers the gluten free option will not have lose flour in the store. BAM.
WHY DO THE PIZZA HUT FAQ‘s SAY ” we cannot assure you that our restaurant environment or any menu item will be completely free of gluten?”
- Because legally they can’t. It’s a liability issue.
WILL THEY EVENTUALLY BE IN ALL PIZZA HUTS?
- They hope so, they are starting small and hope to expand from here.
WHAT FLAVORS WILL THEY OFFER?
- Pepperoni and Cheese. Eventually, more options will be available.
HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?
SO DIVA, WHAT DO YOU REALLY THINK?
- Here’s what I think. There are several other big chains that have tried this and failed. So, in all honesty, I walk into this cautiously optimistic. But let me share this thought, one of these big main stream companies is going to get it right and show everyone else how to do it. Why not Pizza Hut? Isn’t that what so many of us want? To be able to eat anywhere? Let’s be real, tons of restaurants are terrified to even attempt a gluten free option because of an employee error or because of the back lash from our community. I believe GIG, Udi’s and Pizza Hut CAN do this! I’m pulling for them to succeed. If anyone can do it, they can. Let’s give them a chance to pave the way. And if this option is offered to you in your town, go to talk to a manager. Ask them about the process. Tell them how important this is to you. And tell them thank you. Let’s give them a chance to SUCCEED. This is a BIG deal to so many people out there. To some, it’s a chance to just feel normal on a Friday night. To others, it’s an opportunity for a barrier to be broken down between the gluten free world and main stream chain restaurants. I’m all for it. Let’s do this Pizza Hut and Udi’s, I’m cheering you on.
Lauren Lucille Vasser
“The Celiac Diva”