Before the online purchase of books, clothing, or travel, and before the rise of online-exclusive retailers, Pizza Hut‘s digital ordering platform known as “PizzaNet” made its debut in 1994 by receiving the very first online order, which happened to be for a large pizza topped with pepperoni, mushrooms, and extra cheese.
This pioneering platform was initially limited to serving the residents of the Santa Cruz area. It etched its name in internet history by facilitating one of the earliest online commercial transactions: purchasing a large pepperoni and mushroom pizza, generously topped with extra cheese. Despite its remarkable early achievements, PizzaNet experienced a gradual and uncertain growth trajectory.
Even as it made a notable appearance in the 1995 Sandra Bullock film “The Net,” it faced some inherent challenges. Following an order placement on the website, the nearest Pizza Hut outlet would still confirm each order by telephone. This peculiar practice raised eyebrows and garnered criticism, leading the Los Angeles Times to wittily label the concept as “half-baked.” The juxtaposition of cutting-edge online ordering with the traditional phone confirmation process left many puzzled about the platform’s potential.
Upon submission of the form, the data was sent to a central Pizza Hut server in Wichita, then forwarded to the Santa Cruz Pizza Hut location via an Internet connection established for receiving online orders. To guarantee order accuracy and prevent pranks, an employee would subsequently contact the customer for order verification, and payment could be made upon pizza delivery, mirroring the traditional phone order process.
A couple of years after the site launched, the web exploded, and just about everything could be bought and sold online. On that list, of course, was pizza delivery, and the world largely forgot about PizzaNet.