Papa John's and Pizza Hut have ignited a fierce political war that's polarising America

Papa John's 12Hollis JohnsonPapa John’s pizza
  • People are picking sides in a political battle between Pizza Hut and Papa John’s.
  • The right has rallied around Papa John’s after the CEO blamed the chain’s subpar sales on NFL players’ protests.
  • Pizza Hut’s insistence that protests didn’t impact sales won over progressives.

The pizza industry has transformed into a battleground for the American culture wars.

On Wednesday, Papa John’s founder and CEO John Schnatter slammed NFL leadership and blamed players protesting during the national anthem for dragging down the pizza chain’s sales.

“We are totally disappointed that the NFL and its leadership did not resolve the ongoing situation to the satisfaction of all parties long ago,” Schnatter said. “This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago.”

Schnatter’s comments dominated the news on Wednesday, sparking both support and backlash.

The next day, Pizza Hut was pulled into the fray when an analyst asked a question about the NFL players’ protests during an earnings call.

“We’re not seeing impact on any of that on our business,” Greg Creed, CEO of Pizza Hut’s parent company Yum Brands, responded.

Now, people are squaring off for a battle between Pizza Hut and Papa John’s, with each pizza chain standing in as a symbol for two contrasting sets of ideologies and beliefs.

On one side, we have supporters of Pizza Hut. After Creed said that NFL sales were not impacting Pizza Hut’s business, support for the pizza chain erupted online.

These are people, primarily on the left, who want to support NFL players in their protests.

Over the last two years, many players have taken a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality — an act that President Trump said disrespected “our Flag & Country.”

Meanwhile, Trump supporters and others on the right rallied around Papa John’s.

Papa John’s and Pizza Hut are two of the “big three” pizza chain in the US. On Tuesday, Papa John’s reported that same-store sales increased 1% in the US, falling short of expectations. On Thursday, Pizza Hut parent company Yum Brands reported Pizza Hut US sales were flat in the most recent quarter.

Domino’s — the one pizza chain who has avoided entering the NFL controversy so far — announced earnings in October. US same-store sales at the chain increased 8.4% at the chain in the US in the most recent quarter.

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