Published January 17, 2014
McDonald’s may have cornered the market on golden arches, but Pizza Hut will go down in fast food architectural history for its unmistakable slanted roofs.
After opening the first Pizza Hut in Wichita, Kansas in 1958, brothers Dan and Frank Carney decided to commission architect Richard D. Burke to design a building that would serve as an icon for the chain. As the company expanded, so did the number of buildings with four-sided, red shingled roofs and weird trapezoidal windows.
Although the franchise has discontinued its distinctive design, many former Pizza Huts still stand – scattered across suburbia like ghosts from a bygone era of "all-you-can-eat" buffet bars and “Bigfoot” pizzas.
For Mike Neilson, a 33-year-old Pittsburgh resident who works in the software industry, tracking the phantoms of former Pizza Huts has taken on a life of its own on his blog Used to Be a Pizza Hut.
The inspiration for the blog came from Neilson not knowing his way around. After moving to Pittsburgh a few years ago, Neilson realized that the city’s residents had an interesting way of giving directions: They hardly ever used street names and listed landmarks that no longer exist.
“The hilly geography and windy roads of Pittsburgh and the surrounding area leads to a lot of people giving directions based on where things are…and, often, where things used to be,” Neilson told FoxNews.com in an email. “Most of these landmarks meant nothing to me as an outsider six years ago when I first moved here, but the one ‘used to be there’ place that is instantly recognizable to anyone from anywhere is Pizza Hut. I found the idea amusing, so I started a blog about it.”
With submissions coming in from as far away as Australia, Neilson’s blog features a host of crazy Pizza Hut reincarnations. Some highlights include a sex-toy outlet, liquor store and a police station.
As for the future of the blog, Neilson says he has plenty of material to work with and dedicated followers canvassing the country to find more famous red roofs.
“I now have over 100 submissions sitting in my inbox to sort through,” said Neilson. “And more piling in every day.”
Click on the slideshow above to see the bizarre second lives of Pizza Huts.