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The Pizza Hut Bag Bag
In 1983, Pizza Hut came out with a promotion that seemed rather random at the time. When you bought a large or medium pizza at a participating Pizza Huts, for just one dollar, you could add a red sports bag to your order. What was in this red bag? More pizza maybe? Not at all. This bag was empty and ready for you to fill with whatever you needed to tote around.
These Duffel bags were slick looking. They were bright Pizza Hut Red nylon with black and white sport stripes, two sturdy canvas straps, a zipper top, and the companies logo stitched on one side.
Pizza Hut sold thousands of these bags. If you grew up in the eighties and nineties, they were a common site if you hung around adults who ate at Pizza Hut. I had an uncle who had 5 of these bags hanging in his garage, stuffed with old sports equipment.
The Origin of the “Duffel Bag“
Duffel bags are named after the town of Duffel in Belgium. It was here that the original thick cloth for these bags was made, back in the 17th century. While it originally referred to cylindrical bags that closed at the top, the term is now commonly used to refer to many types of high-capacity bags.
The promotion started in the fall of 1983 and would last for a little over a year in some markets. While it was most commonly sold as an add-on item, they would also give them away in a few sweepstakes, local contests, and I even saw them used as a giveaway at a sporting event.
Plenty of print ads feature the bag, but most who remember this red marvel will recall this amazing commercial that they ran for many months starting in late 1983. It is there that I picked up calling the Pizza Hut bag, the “Bag Bag,” despite that name never appearing in print.
This snappy bit of advertising has a catchy jingle and excited dancing consumers who are very happy to get their Pizza Hut bag. Featuring some great glamour shot of pizza and the bags, I find it notable because it is shot in an old style Pizza Hut. While we might only get fleeting glimpses of table cloths, brick face walls, and old lamps, it takes me right back to the exciting trips to the Pizza Hut of my youth.
It would still be a bargain today
$1 in 1983 would be just $2.82 in 2022. If you ask me, that is still a bargain for this bag. Unfortunately, it might be difficult to find a Bag Bag for that price nowadays. As of right now, the average price of one is about $13 in excellent condition. That would be the equivalent of $4.61 in 1983 (still a bargain).
In the commercial, it makes it looks like they are getting something in their bags when they are delivered to you at your table. My memory of getting a bag was that it was folded up and in a plastic bag. Maybe some locations liked to present them more theatrically, but I am guessing that this only happened in the commercial.
Now I know you are dying to sing along. So here are the lyrics to the Pizza Hut Bag Bag song.
Lyrics to the Pizza Hut Bag Bag Song
We build your pizza in the pan.
(Pizza Hut can. Yes, we can. Yes, We can can.)
Now we got something special for you.
It’s very hip and its no drag.
It’s what we call our brand new bag.
Get the bag bag!
Its very hip and it’s no drag.
For a buck buck, you get the bag bag.
Get the bag bag. For a buck buck.
The Pizza Hut Bag gets a lot of laughs nowadays because “it was just a bag,” but it was a pretty brilliant marketing move. Pizza Hut sold what seemed like an unrelated product at a bargain price, but each bag they sold was an opportunity for free advertising. Every time you reached for your gym cloths or were throwing together a bag for an overnight trip, you would see that Pizza Hut logo. Its advertising embedded in people’s lives. I am surprised more companies aren’t doing it regularly.