The Origin of Pizza Brand Names


When you tuck into your favourite slice of pizza, do you ever wonder how and where the big pizza brands got their names?

From Domino’s to Pizza Hut to Papa Johns, here are some stories you might not have heard. So, let’s take a look at how, where, and why they all started…


American multinational Domino’s is the market leader in the UK, with over 1.3k stores up and down the country.

The company was founded in 1960 when brothers Tom and James Monaghan took over a pizza outlet called DomiNick’s in Michigan, before Tom traded in his car a year later to buy out James’ share of the business. Tom acquired two further pizzerias and wanted all three stores to have the same name and branding, but the original owner put paid to that idea by retaining the rights to the name Dominick’s. Tom renamed his empire-to-be ‘Domino’s Pizza’ at the suggestion of employee Jim Kennedy, with the three dots on the company logo representing the three stores he originally planned to open. His idea to add a new dot to the logo for every new store quickly went by the board as the company experienced exponential growth – in hindsight, this was almost certainly a good thing as the global powerhouse now operates over 20.5k restaurants in more than 90 international markets across the globe[i]. Suffice to say, he would have needed a huge logo to accommodate all those dots!

Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut, owned by Yum! Brands Inc. has more than 16k restaurants in over 100 countries around the world. Brothers Frank and Dan Carney opened the very first outlet in Wichita, Kansas, in 1958 after borrowing the grand sum of $600 from their mum to fund the enterprise. After a family member commented that their premises resembled a hut – coupled with the fact that they only had enough room on their donated sign for eight letters – the name Pizza Hut was born!

When it came to branding, the hat-like roof of the ‘hut’ provided the inspiration for the famous logo, which has remained a consistent part of the brand’s badge for over 40 years.

Papa Johns

Having worked in pizza restaurants throughout his high school and college years, ‘Papa’ John Schnatter’s dream had always been to open his own pizza joint. In college, he went as far as to ask a fellow dorm mate who was majoring in marketing to come up with a name and logo for his future venture, promising him a free pizza a week for life if he ever made it big. In 1984, Schnatter sold his prized 1971 Camaro to fund the purchase of $1.6k of used pizza equipment and began selling pizzas from a broom closet at the back of his father’s tavern in Jefferson, Indiana, using the Papa Johns name and logo that his friend had previously suggested. Business boomed so much that John moved into larger premises only a year later and was able to buy back his long-lost Camaro in 2009 after offering a £250k finder’s fee to whoever could produce the title and transfer the car back to him.[ii]  Today, there are almost 6k Papa Johns franchises operating in 49 countries, making it the third largest pizza delivery company in the world.