Gimme That ‘Za: The Wacky World of Pizza Mascots

Few meals were as beloved in the 1980s and 1990s as the round wheel of sauce, cheese, meats, and veggies that ruled over any other dinner option for kids or adults: I’m talking about pizza!

The Olsen Twins even sang a now-Internet famous ditty all about the toppings they’d put on their dream pizza in the 1995 VHS video “You’re Invited To Mary-Kate and Ashley’s Sleepover Party.”

Pizza mania extended to the world of brand mascots with three popular ‘za-driven characters created during this era for their respective pizza brands. Domino’s introduced The Noid while Little Caesars gave their existing icon a new “pizza pizza” tagline and Pizza Hut turned commercial breaks into sketch comedy skits with “The Pizza Head Show.” Grab a slice and join us for a look behind the scenes of pizza’s wackiest characters.

Little Caesar

Little Caesar might have made his debut as a 3D figure for the Little Caesars pizza chain in 1962, but the character received his famous “PIZZA!PIZZA!” tagline in 1979. Little Caesars began national television advertising in 1988,with ad agency Cliff Freeman & Partners at the helm of some of their zaniest commercial campaigns of the ‘90s featuring the three-foot tall Roman icon. This commercial spot from 1997 features the chain’s latest creation, Pizza by the Foot, which customers are instructed on “a safe turning radius” for carrying out the pizza. (The customer in this ad doesn’t follow any of the rules, of course.)

After a 15-year hiatus, Little Caesar made his triumphant return to national TV ads in 2012 — still dressed in his toga and sandals and wildly enthusiastic about “PIZZA!PIZZA!” as ever.

The Noid

“If you’ve ever gotten cold pizza or squashed pizza or pizza that just wasn’t right, The Noid did it.”

Meet The Noid, a character (we still aren’t quite sure what he truly is) created for Domino’s Pizza in 1986 by the ad agency Group 243. This mascot existed purely to ruin pizzas everywhere, however Domino’s promised that because their pizzas were delivered so quickly one could “Avoid The Noid” and get their slices piping hot.

Will Vinton, who also helped create other Claymation mascots like the California Raisins, brought The Noid to life in Claymation and actor Pons Maar voiced The Noid in pure gibberish-speak. While the mascot received a mixed reception from audiences, the character was shelved after a Domino’s hostage situation that took place in 1989 and would not make a commercial reappearance until 2016. (This time, he ditched the Claymation for a life size costume.)

Pizza Head

It’s time for “The Pizza Head Show” everybody! In 1993, Pizza Hut dipped into the success of “The Mr. Bill Show” on Saturday Night Live with their own take on the skit. In an ad campaign created by Goodby Silverstein & Partners, “The Pizza Head Show” starred a happy-go-lucky slice of pizza named Pizza Head terrorized by a pizza cutter named Steve — the Sluggo to his Mr. Bill.

All throughout these commercial spots, Pizza Head would find himself getting stepped on, hit by an asteroid, and even arrested by Steve, assuming various identities with the narrator refusing to believe Pizza Head that Steve was any of these characters. The commercials ran until 1997 — just the right time before this skit could grow stale with audiences.

Heather Taylor

Heather Taylor

Icon Researcher & Blogger at Advertising Week
Heather Taylor
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