Pizza Hut is testing out a lighter pizza in two US markets as it seeks to freshen up its menu and regain its footing against competitors. The tests of "Skinny Slice" pies began this week at several dozen restaurants in Toledo, Ohio, and West Palm Beach, Fla. The pies simply use less of the same dough used for regular pies and are lighter on the toppings, said a Pizza Hut spokesman. In Toledo, customers can create their own Skinny Slice pies with up to five toppings, with each slice having 300 calories or fewer. In West Palm Beach, customers can pick from one of six pre-determined pies, with each slice having 250 calories or fewer.
The test by Pizza Hut comes as the chain fights to win back market share. Last year, Pizza Hut sales fell 2% at US locations open at least a year. Domino's, by contrast, saw the figure rise 5.4% while Papa John's saw sales rise 4% in North America. One restaurant analyst notes that the chain has failed to "evolve its product," while Papa John's has played up its quality and Domino's improved its pizza. Other pizza chains have tinkered with alternative crusts as well: Domino's introduced a gluten-free crust in 2012 that is still on the menu. During the Atkins craze, Domino's also tested a whole wheat crust but ultimately abandoned the idea. "It did not take us very long to learn that people did not want that from Domino's," says a spokesperson. (Read more Pizza Hut stories.)