How much Domino’s pizza can you eat? Today we are going to do a deep dive into the history of this iconic pizza chain. We are going to cover where they got their start and where they are at today.
How Much Domino’s Pizza Can you Eat: Humble Beginnings
Domino’s Pizza, Inc. got its start in 1960 when two brothers, Tom and James Monaghan, purchased a local pizza joint called, DomiNick’s. Back in 1960, all they needed was a $500 downpayment and they were in business. They borrowed $900 to complete payment for the store.
Tom threw himself into the business working long hours. James was very content to keep his job as a postal worker and sold his half of the business to Tom for their Volkswagen Beetle they were using to make deliveries.
By 1965 Tom had purchased two more pizza shops. Tom really wanted have all three of his locations have the same name and branding. However, the previous owner of DomiNick’s would not allow Tom to use the DomiNick’s name on these other locations.
One day an employee, Jim Kennedy, came back from a pizza delivery and pitched an idea to Tom. They should call the pizza business Domino’s. Tom loved the idea and in 1965 officially renamed his fledgling pizza empire, Domino’s Pizza, Inc.
DomiNick’s Is Out, Domino’s Is In
Originally the company logo had three dots, one dot for each location. Tom wanted to add a dot to the logo for each location they would add. He quickly abandoned that idea because of the rapid growth they began to experience as a company.
In 1967, they began franchising their pizza concept. By 1978 Tom had expanded to over 200 locations.
In 1975, the Amstar Corporation took Domino’s to court over a trademark dispute. Amstar was the maker of Domino sugar and they felt that Domino’s was infringing on their trademarked name. A judge disagreed and awarded Domino’s Pizza the victory.
Tom Monaghan decided to retire from the business in 1998 after 38 years of owning the business. He sold 93% of the company to Bain Capital, Inc. for 1 billion dollars. It’s incredible to me that he was able to turn that $500 downpayment into a billion dollars.
In 2012, Domino’s Pizza, Inc. changed their name to just Domino’s. They also changed up their logo by dropping the “Domino’s Pizza” from the name and logo. They wanted to make it clear to the world that Domino’s was more than just pizza.
All About The Food
Growing up, Domino’s was my least favorite pizza of the popular chains. I felt it tasted a lot like cardboard that had sauce and cheese on top. I can’t blame Domino’s for sticking with what worked.
In the early years, Domino’s had a very simple menu compared to other pizza places. They had one style of crust that came in two sizes, a 12-inch and a 16-inch, as well as 11 toppings.
In 1989, Domino’s deviated from their simple menu by adding the deep dish pizza. This launch cost the company $25 million. $15 million of that was purchasing the new pans needed to bake the pizza.
The early 2000s Domino’s went on a roll with a variety of new menu items. January 2000 brought the Philly cheesesteak specialty pizza. In 2006, they launched one of my personal favorites, the Brooklyn style crust. It was a thinner crust with larger slices you can fold.
In 2008, Domino’s launched their first non-pizza item, the toasty oven-baked sandwich. Overnight they became one of the world’s largest sandwich delivery restaurants. It was no secret that they launched these sandwiches in an effort to take on Subway.
2009 brought penne pasta that was served in a bread bowl as well as a lava crunch cake to the menu. The bread bowl brought a fresh round of criticism for the chain. After all, who puts pasta in a bread bowl.
Domino’s Pizza Was Really Bad
There was a survey done in 2009 of consumer taste preferences among national chains. Domino’s ranked last on the survey tied with Chuck E. Cheese’s. Ouch! They then launched a self-deprecating campaign where customers were filmed talking about how lousy Domino’s pizza was. These ads also showed chefs in the kitchen developing a new pizza.
It takes a big person to admit that you are wrong. In December of 2009 Domino’s launched their new pizza recipe. They officially admitted to the world that their existing recipe was indeed lousy. Such a dramatic redo has been almost unheard of.
This change worked. This was when I stopped viewing Domino’s as lousy cardboard topped with sauce and cheese, and instead viewed them as a legit contender int he pizza space.
2012 saw Domino’s add the pan pizza to their menu. Many times if you add a new item to a menu permanently, then that means something else has to go. The sacrificial lamb here was the deep dish pizza that got the axe after 23 years of of being on the menu.
Advertising and Marketing Struggles
I feel like this is as good a time as any to talk about the Noid. The Noid was Domino’s marketing mascot. He was introduced in 1986. However, this mascot was short lived.
In January 1989, Kenneth Lamar Noid felt that Domino’s had stolen his name and likeness in creating the Noid. He entered a Domino’s restaurant in Chamblee, GA armed with a handgun. He held two employees hostage for over 5 hours. Noid told his hostages that Tom Monaghan and Domino’s had stolen his name. He forced them to call Domino’s headquarters to demand $100,000 and a white limo for his getaway transportation.
After 5 hours of standoff, Noid got hungry and forced the employees to make him some pizza. While he was enjoying a fresh hot Domino’s pizza, he set his gun down. The employees took advantage of the distraction and escaped. Noid then surrendered to police. He was charged with kidnapping, aggravated assault, extortion, and possession of a firearm during a crime. After the incident, Police Chief Reed Miller told reporters, “He’s para-noid.”
Noid was acquitted due to insanity and spent time in a mental institution before committing suicide in February, 1995. Domino’s discontinued Noid after this incident. However, they claimed that the hostage situation was not the reason for discontinuing the mascot. Was Noid’s early retirement a coincidence? I personally don’t think so.
30 Minute Guarantee
Another botched marketing campaign happened in 1973. Domino’s unveiled a 30 minute guarantee. The rules were simple, if Domino’s can’t deliver your pizza to you within 30 minutes of you placing an order, the pizza is free. In 1987 they changed the guarantee to $3 off.
In 1992 Domino’s settled a lawsuit that was brought by the family of an Indiana woman who was killed by a speeding Domino’s delivery driver. They paid the family $2.8 million. In 1993 another lawsuit was brought by a woman who was injured when a Domino’s delivery driver ran a red light and collided with her vehicle. A jury awarded her $80 million, but accepted a payout of $15 million. Domino’s dropped the guarantee that same year due to a perception of reckless driving and irresponsibility.
11,000 Free Pizzas
I never knew there was so much low hanging fruit for botched Domino’s promotions. The last one I want to hit today was when Domino’s experienced a glitch on their website that resulted in 11,000 free pizzas being awarded to customers.
In 2008 Domino’s had planned a promotion for free pizza when using the promo code “bailout.” However, they scrapped the idea and never promoted it. However, the promo code to redeem the free pizza was never deactivated. In March of 2009 a random customer typed “bailout” in the promo code field and was awarded a free pizza. The news spread like wildfire online and Domino’s was quick at getting the promo code disabled. However, they weren’t able to disable it before they gave away 11,000 free pizzas.
How Much Domino’s Pizza Can You Register For?
Domino’s has definitely become an interesting pizza chain over the years. From reworking their pizza recipe to becoming a robust online technology solution to pizza, they never stop surprising me. One surprise I found came about as I was researching this episode. Do you want to know something about Domino’s that will blow your mind? Dominos.com has a Domino’s wedding registry. I had no clue something like this existed, much less that there is actually demand for such a thing.
You might be wondering what on earth does a Domino’s wedding registry even look like. Well you can have wedding guests purchase a variety of pizza packages. These include a 2 a.m. bachelor party feast, or a “one more slice” before “I do,” package. You can also get a post honeymoon adjustment to real life package and a married but chill package, among others.
Did You Like Learning About Domino’s Pizza? Subscribe!
This is just one example of the type of show I put together each week. If you liked learning about food history, make sure you subscribe today!
You can use these links to subscribe to the show!
Follow Me On Social Media
Learn more fun facts about food history by following me on social media.
Know A Restaurant or Business I Should Interview??
The world is a very big place. However, if you have a restaurant contributing to food history in some way, I want to know about it. Finally, complete the form here and we will make it happen!