In 1999, Pizza Hut released a much hyped pie called The Big New Yorker, a 16" pizza whose TV commercials some of you might still remember. Though I never ordered one myself, I definitely recall those ad spots, featuring an oversized box with a rough sketch of the New York City skyline and characters speaking in exaggerated east coast accents. And since nostalgia is a big marketing hit these days, Pizza Hut is bringing back this very ’90s menu item on February 1 for a limited run, just in time for Super Bowl LVII.
This item’s biggest draw is its name. It’s a product inspired by the famed New York style slice, which is typically oversized, thin, and foldable—you can read more about it here.
A Pizza Hut press release sent to The Takeout describes the Big New Yorker this way:
Each 16” pizza features six oversized, foldable slices with crispy crust and bold flavors including sweet marinara sauce, extra cheese, parmesan oregano seasoning on top to mimic authentic New York pizzeria build. One order of The Big New Yorker extra-large pizza comes with double pepperoni, or one choose-your-own topping for a price starting at $13.99.
(Though it rolls out February 1, it’s available starting January 31 for Hut Rewards members.)
The Big New Yorker inspired quite a vocal fan base that has pined for it since it was discontinued years ago. Change.org petitions have sprung up begging for its return, and users have eulogized it on Reddit. It’s one of those former products that, for whatever reason, has a back-in-the-day sheen to its memory. Maybe because for certain areas of the country, the Big New Yorker really was the only way to get a taste of NYC-style pizza in the ’90s, before artisan pizza blew up into the thriving sector it is today.
New York style pizzas are a notoriously difficult type for fast food pizza chains to capture, as we saw with Papa Johns’ lackluster efforts early last year. Big chains typically use conveyor belt ovens, so getting the bottom crisp like an ideal New York pie is damn near impossible. A slice joint in New York will typically use a deck oven, which means when the pizza is being fired off, it rests directly on the baking surface, crisping up on the bottom. A conveyor belt oven, which doesn’t provide the same hot surface area, just can’t achieve those results.
That might seem like a small detail, but without that crispness (or at least a little of it), you’ll get the dreaded “tip sag,” where your slice flops over even when folded up like a taco. That increases the possibility of grease dripping all over your clothes or scalding your chin, neither of which is very fun.
I anticipate that Pizza Hut’s Big New Yorker will be more of a large, floppy thin crust slice (like Papa Johns’) with the signature smell of Pizza Hut’s oregano-heavy spices. It probably won’t transport you to a slice shop in Brooklyn or anything. But really, I think the point is more to cash in on fond old memories, because a sense of nostalgia will enhance the experience wherever Pizza Hut fails to.