There are few things more disappointing than holidays that are now so synonymous with shopping that we have come to forget what we’re really celebrating in the first place. This past Valentine’s Day (and pretty much all of them…thanks, Hallmark!) was no exception. If all the pesticide-laden flowers and high fructose corn syrup-filled chocolates weren’t enough, Pizza Hut tried getting in on the action…with a perfume. Yes, perfume.
Using a scarcity tactic, the fast food chain hooked its audience by offering only 24 bottles of “Eau de Pizza Hut” each day, beginning just a few days prior to Valentine’s Day. A “Last Minute Lovers Package” they quaintly dubbed it—adding a $20 gift card good towards the purchase of Big Pizza Sliders or a Lovers Pizza in addition to the fragrance. Yummy. Only 72 packages were available in total and the die-hard fans (apparently there are die-hard Pizza Hut fans) were encouraged to tweet @PizzaHut with the appropriate hashtag for a chance to win. “Eau de Pizza Hut is one of the most sought-after and rarest of scents available,” said Kurt Kane, CMO of Pizza Hut in a press release emailed to HuffPost Food. (Barf. Gag. Expletives, says me in a press release I plan to email to whoever in the world can stop this from happening again.)
The Huffington Post reportedly tried the Pizza Hut perfume, saying it smelled “exactly like Cinnabon.” As if it would smell like sausage and pepperoni? What should a pizza-inspired fragrance smell like, anyway? Is the goal to remind the wearers of their favorite pizza or to simply expand the brand’s reach of toxic ingredients from what goes in the body to what goes on it? Or maybe, perhaps the company began to notice that regular Pizza Hut customers have extremely bad BO and could use a little “freshening.” Gross.
When I pitched this story to Laura, our benevolent and extremely open-minded editor-in-chief, she asked what angle I was planning on taking. I responded, wondering if she’d be open to just the word “Why?” 400 times…Granted, I would never do that to you readers (unless you really, really want me to), and as I sit here now, pathetically trying to imagine just what a cinnamon-y Pizza Hut perfume would smell like—and who would want to wear it—I’m still seeing W-H-Y in my mind more often than the rest of these words I am forcing myself to type, as I am more than a little bit confounded by “Eau de Pizza Hut.” (See, just there—typing it once again, my mind screamed “why?!” I am now a little bit hoping that the world is going to end at any moment.)
It’s no secret that we have trouble keeping our relationships with fast junk food at an arm’s length. That reality is potently well articulated in this video appearing on Treehugger, comparing our modern food industry to drug dealers. I can’t really think of a better comparison. And that Pizza Hut perfume? It’s like your dealer cooking up crack with you after you just bought a bag, as a lil’ thank you toke. Or offering you a piece of pie. It doesn’t really matter what they give you, it’s just good business to treat you every now and then—it further endears you to the product they’re ultimately selling and increases your loyalty to that particular dealer.
Don’t get me wrong, I love kitsch and memorabilia almost as much as the next person. (In the ’80s, my favorite pair of earrings dangled little branded tubes of toothpaste that I loved to a ridiculous degree for some truly unknown reason that even now, they’re the first example that comes to my mind…) In fact, I think many of our modern food products serve us better as pop art and paperweights than as any real attempt at sustenance. But, if I had access to one of those genies who hide out in (perfume?) bottles, after I wished for unlimited wishes and more Ryan Gosling “hey girl!” memes, I’d most certainly wish for all of us to hone our ability to be more discerning about brands that are simply baiting us with gimmicks because they know there is absolutely no substance to what they’re actually sellling us.
Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger
Image courtesy of the Huffington Post