Little Caesars Pizza is the massive fast food restaurant chain that is best known for their "hot and ready" selection of take and go pizzas. They have them ready when you arrive at the restaurant and they're popular as a place to go and pick up a hot and fast meal when you're having a time crunch. They truly serve an important role in keeping busy Americans supplied in their weekly fast pizza fix, or more often for some customers. We'd like to honor their contributions to keeping us all going by presenting you with twenty things you didn't know about Little Caesars.
1. The co-founder of Little Caesers is a former baseball player
Mike Ilitch went in partners on opening the first Little Caesars ever with his beloved wife Marian Ilitch. The couple opened the first store in 1959. At the time, Mike was a member of the Detroit Tigers farm team and he played the shortstop position. It was sad when Mike experienced a traumatic injury that made it impossible for him to continue playing ball, and it ended his career in baseball as a player, but it helped him to place a greater focus on his pizza business that has grown exponentially since that time.
2. Little Caesars has been good to the Ilitches
Mike and Marian have done so well with their pizza business that the proceeds from the business have made it possible for Mike and his wife to remain intimately tied with the Tigers. It's no big secret that Mike Ilitch loves baseball and even though he cannot play the game professionally, in 1982, he bought the Tigers team and he's been the proud owner ever since. The Ilitches also purchased the Detroit Red Wings who have four Stanley Cups to their credit, in addition to a theater, a casino, and many other significant business holdings.
3. Little Caesars is owned by two of America's richest residents
The Ilitches are two of the richest people in America. They are ranked with the likes of Donald Trump and Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots. As of right now, they've been ranked by Forbes in their annual report as the #123 of the richest Americans in the country. They've amassed a fortune that is estimated to be around $4.2 billion. We'd say that Little Caesars has been very good to them indeed.
4. They finally started offering limited run pizzas again
Everybody looks forward to the new creations that the various pizza restaurants come up with for a limited time. It changes things up and helps us fin occasionally find a new favorite. Little Caesars went for a full decade without offering anything new and exciting. Don't get us wrong, their standard fare was enough to keep customers coming by the droves because their pizzas truly are delicious, but it had been a long time since they introduced something new. Last summer, they broke down and offered a limited run pretzel pizza.
5. Little Caesars learned an important lesson last year
When Little Caesars offered the limited run pretzel pizza pie for the summer, it was a big hit with fans of the restaurant. Because it was labeled as a limited time offer, they discontinued offering the uniquely salty but delicious pies. When they discovered that the pies were no longer available, customers who enjoyed it weren't having any of this. They raised a ruckus when it was dropped from the menu. To meet the expectations of their loyal customers, Little Caesars brought the pretzel pizza back and it's now a permanent part of their standard menu offerings. They learned something about the value of an experimental run to test new recipes. Sometimes it gives you new ideas on how to improve your existing offerings to please even more people.
6. They offered a French fry crust pizza
How many of you got in on the unique French fry crust pizza that Little Caesar's offered back in 1993? Some of you may not have even been born back then but it's true. That was back in the day when they were big on offering limited run special pizzas. It went over alright but it seems obvious that it didn't have the appeal that the pretzel variant did because we don't see it as one of their menu offerings anymore.
7. Little Caesars sold spaghetti in buckets
1993 was a time when the Little Caesars pizza chain was into experimenting with new menu items. In addition to their French-fry crust pizza, they also offered little buckets that were filled with spaghetti. They first introduced their spaghetti buckets in 1993. For the money, you actually got a bucket filled with spaghetti along with sauce and bread to go with it. This was a novel idea and it was appreciated by spaghetti lovers. We're not sure why they discontinued it but they decided that it wasn't something they wanted to make a permanent menu item.
8. The Pizza! Pizza! campaign began in 1979
It's hard to believe that the franchise has been able to stick with one advertising campaign for so long. The Pizza! Pizza! campaign that features little Brutus repeating his iconic tagline has been around for almost 40 years. The really cool thing about it is that it's something that we never seem to get tired of. In fact, it's kind of familiar to hear the slogan repeated on their commercials. They've chosen an advertising strategy that involves finding an element that works and sticking with it. It's uncertain how well a change in campaign would work for the company at this point. Sometimes we just enjoy having something familiar around us. While it's not the only commercial that they've had, it's one they keep coming back to.
9. Little Caesars used to give you free Crazy Bread for saying their slogan
The popular food chain was made even more popular when they ran a campaign that gave people free Crazy Bread just for saying "Pizza! Pizza! This was back in the day though. They don't have the same offer going on but a lot of us are wishing that they'd bring it back again. Their crazy bread is crazy delicious.
10. Bill Murray worked at Little Caesars
We recently learned that in an interview with Jimmy Kimmel, the ultra-cool actor and comedian Bill Murray disclosed that he used to be an employee at a Little Caesars restaurant. That was back in the time before Murray became famous and he was struggling just to make enough money to survive. At the same time, we learned that Murray was working right alongside Kerry Simon, the celebrity chef, but that was also before he became a celebrity chef. It's quite a coincidence that two of Little Caesar's workers who labored together would rise to such heights of fame and riches.
11. Little Caesars supported a charity
Little Caesars made specialty pizza cones to support a long-running pizza kit fundraiser program. The gave their customers to opportunity to make their own pizza cones. The campaign took place in 2012. They encouraged sports teams, churches and schools to partner with the chain to sell the kits to charity supporters and the event was a massive success. The franchise has a heart for others in need and they still offer this as one of their many fundraising events, so if you like cheese or pepperoni pizza cones, you may want to check them out.
12. The owner of Little Caesars used to scout other pizza joints
Before Mike Ilitch opened the first Little Caesars, he made it a habit to scout out the various pizza parlors when he was on the road playing baseball. This happened in the 1950s and it was during a time when pizza had not yet been officially designated as a food appropriate to be served as an entire lunch or dinner meal. It was still considered a snack and a novelty food. Ilitch liked to try different pizza parlors to try out their recipes. It's obvious that something was cooking in his mind even back then.
13. Mike and Marian put their entire life savings into the first Little Caesars
The Ilitches had only been married for four years when they made the decision to go into the pizza restaurant business. The couple had only saved up $10,000, which is a far cry from the billions that the family is currently worth today. They invested the entire amount into their first location n Garden City, Michigan. It was only three years until they sold their first Little Caesar's Franchise, and as they say, the rest is history.
14. Bill Murray used to eat the raw dough at Little Caesar's
Here's a fun fact that we're almost certainly very few people are aware of. Bill Murray, who worked at the restaurant before he became rich and famous used to pig out on the dough. He was a pizza maker and he used to enjoy a snack of dough while he was rolling it out. Most of us are aware of the dangers of eating too much raw bread dough, but Murray didn't seem to have any big problems as a result. This admission made us realize that when he said he was a starving artist, he must have meant that he was literally starving if he was reduced to eating raw pizza dough. Of course, the other alternative is that he just really liked the taste of it.
15. Little Caesar's has expanded internationally
Little Caesar's has also opened up restaurants in their famous chain in Canada. They've done so well in the United States that our neighbors from up north were also interested in having their own Little Caesars. There's one big difference in the Canadian advertisements though. They are not allowed to use the slogan Pizza! Pizza! in Canada. The reason for his is that there was already a pizza restaurant chain in the country that is called Pizza Pizza. It had been established before the famous Little Caesar's campaign was launched so instead, the Canadian version says “Two Pizzas!,” “Delivery! Delivery!,” or “Quality! Quality!” Because the famed American slogan has not been trademarked in Canada prior to the other restaurant forming, it's not a slogan that they can legally use.
16. Little Caesar's was named by Marian
Here's some trivia that not many people know about. The name of the popular pizza chain was given to the establishment by Mike Ilitch's wife Marian. This was her pet name for her husband. We're not completely sure why she called him Little Caesar but we're assuming that it's because of his Macedonian ancestry. Mike wanted to name the business Pizza Treat, but Marian won the battle over that one.
17. Little Caesar's was a first in innovations
The massive pizza chain was one of the first of its type to use a conveyor type oven
They Were One of the First Chains to Use a Conveyor Oven
Little Caesars has always been at the vanguard of pizza tech, and were one of the first to begin using a “rotary air impingement oven” upon its invention in 1997.
18. The same guy behind the Pizza! Pizza! slogan invented "Where's the Beef?"
The name of the man that came up with the Little Caesar's slogan Pizza Pizza is the same guy that came up with the famous Where's the Beef? slogan. His name is Cliff Freeman. Although they auditioned several hundred voice actors to deliver the quickie line, in the end, Ilitch asked Freeman if he would do it himself and he agreed.
19. The Little Caesar's Motto came from a two for one deal
The first time the Pizza Pizza motto was heard was during a campaign that offered two pizzas for the price of one. The Little Caesars execs had heard about one of their competitors offering a two for one deal so they decided to do the same, and use the popular motto for the advertisement. It's one of those things that just kind of stuck and it's been with them since 1979.
20. Little Caesars operates a food truck that feeds hungry people for free
Few people know about this, but there is a food truck that is filled with Little Caesar's pizzas that goes to where it was needed and feeds the hungry without charge. The Ilitches started what they called the Little Caesar's Love Kitchen Foundation in 1985. They send the mobile pizza truck out to help feed the victims of disasters and as of this time, they've fed over two million people.
Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker