• Pizza Hut rolls out Chicago-style pizza

NEW YORK -- Pizza Hut has added a Chicago-style deep-dish pizza to store menus nationwide. Print promotion and coupons were mailed to many U.S. cities on Sept. 24.

Price for the pizza is $11.99.

According to USA Today, the pizza is called Chicago Dish Pizza, it weighs about three pounds and will be marketed with the ad slogan "So deep you'll need a fork."

Typically, Chicago-style pizza is a long-cook item, which would eliminate it from Pizza Hut's quick-bake format. However, the company claims its deep-dish pie cooks in about 10 minutes.

"A Chicago pizza is not achievable in that time frame," says Jim Freeland, corporate chef at Lou Malnati's Pizzeria, a 30-year-old Chicago institution with 20 restaurants. "Anything we've looked at to speed up the process lessens the quality."

Pizza Hut marketing chief Cindy Hennessy disagrees.

"It took us 10 years to develop this," said Hennessy, who predicts the Chicago-style pie will eventually account for 14 percent of the chain's sales. "We finally have a pizza that measures up to a true Chicago pizza."

Pizza Hut isn't the first pizza chain this year to add a deep-dish pie to its roster. Detroit-based Little Caesars rolled out its own in February (and credits the creation with driving an 11-percent sales spike in the second quarter of 2002), and Papa John's, headquartered in Louisville, Ky., is testing its version in Wichita, Kan., and Orlando, Fla. Vancouver, Wash.-based Papa Murphy's Take-'N-Bake Pizza will introduce its deep-dish pizza next month.

Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Domino's Pizza has sold its Ultimate Deep Dish pizza for nearly a decade, but Tim McIntyre, the company's vice president of corporate communications, said it accounts for just 10 percent of sales.

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