Letter sent to Pizza Hut on 9/17/1996:
Dear Pizza Hut,
One chilly September evening, on a routine dusk patrol through the state park, my partner, Seth, and I saw some strange activity--flocks of animals fleeing a section of pine forest, on the other side of the marsh. Thinking “Poachers!” we pulled the Cherokee onto the field and drove through the marsh. The scent of the pines, in the damp air was exhilarating! As we inched toward the excited area, we switched to the parking lights (so as to not startle additional wildlife). In the distance, we saw a silhouette of an apparently large, furry naked man.
Although the creature was faster, policy is to chase until there is no reason for pursuit. Suddenly we were ambushed by an eight foot tall P.M.S. driven wookie that smelled like two-day old grass clippings. He growled and swiped Seth’s left arm clean off, heaving the pistol and bloody appendage approximately two football fields. Seth gasped and screamed “Save yourself--go on without me.” However, our “Introduction to Park Rangering” manual taught us to never leave a fellow ranger. If you cross one of us, you have a whole squad to fight. I fled like a panicky girl with a full bladder.
The assailant chased after me, intentionally allowing me to outrun him. In a desperate effort to avoid fate, I rummaged through the emergency kit, flinging gauze, tweezers, and a Band Aid. Distracted, I failed to see the 15 foot quarry, and we both found ourselves in three feet of swamp water. As I scrambled to scale the rock, a large furry hand grabbed me.
Moments later, the brilliant explosion left no trace of the beast. The sight of Seth’s struggle revealed only a tree with the carved letters “GETHELP.” Confused, I went home. No one ever found Seth. By the way, “gethelp” was not in the dictionary. Seth never could spell his way out of a paper bag.
The next day, flags were placed at half mast. Maybe I should have stuck it out with Seth, my best friend since Cub Scouts, the best man at my wedding. Seth always helped me out of trouble--with my parents, with girls who discovered that I was not a close personal friend of Ric Ocasik. The one time Seth needed me, I fled. Try living with that.
To this day, each time I go to Pizza Hut, your “Bigfoot Pizza” reminds of my cowardice. Why did you name your dinnertime fare after a famous killer--someone that has made widows, orphans, and guilty best friends? Why not “The Mighty Manson,” “Deep Dish Dahlmer,” “Thick Crust Coresh” or “O.J. By the Slice.” You could serve it up fresh with some Jonesville Kool-Aid. Why not “Big Daddy,” “The Big Grumpy,” or “Big Gentle Pie.” These names reflect a more positive dining experience--not death. Until I am provided with some explanation, I cannot support your chain.
Going Hungry (and Thirsty),
“Ham ‘n’ Onions” Herman
My Follow-up, sent 4/22/97
Dear Pizza Slingers,
There are only five (5) things in the world that irritate me.
1) People who need a bumper sticker to state “what they’re about.”
2) When people drive with their headlights on in broad daylight.
3) People who nibble on their stick of gum like it’s a carrot, rather than cramming it in their mouth.
4) Toilet paper that doubles as fine grain sandpaper.
5) Companies who fail to respond to their customers’ concerns in timely fashion.
The month was October. I penned a reflective letter in which I retold a story from my life that was so traumatic, I have never told it to my family. In fact, in telling you, it stirred up some feelings from 17 months, fourteen days, twelve hours, 18 minutes and... ten seconds ago. A story about bravery and cowardice. A story about the best of friends--and how one is gone because the other didn’t have “the stuff that Park Rangers are made of.”
I was almost over the rough part, until I wrote that letter. The only time I would break up was at my favorite restaurant (Pizza Hut) when I would glance at the menu and see the name of my friend’s killer right there in big font. Can you imagine how traumatic that was?
I decided to stop being a sissy and, last night, I went to Pizza Hut. My waiter thought I was some sort of emotional freak. I opened the menu and saw no sign of Bigfoot. Maybe you were considerate to my problem and took it off out of compassion for your fellow man. If this is the case, I thank you, but I think otherwise.
I am, right now, reconsidering my loyalty the very company that I have made profitable with my late night cravings. You don’t get customers like me very often. Let me share another secret--I have loyally consumed your pies despite being lactose intolerant. “Consequences, Schmonsequences,” I would say. My system would be congested like the Brooklyn Bridge during rush hour. But all the loyalty in the world has not consummated itself in the form of feedback from you! Get to it!
Considering the Dark Side of the Force,
“Ham ‘n’ Onions” Herman
Joseph Heilner's response, May 1, 1997:
Dear “Ham ‘n’ Onions:”
Thank you for your recent letters. Seth’s passing was not only a loss to you, but we vicariously feel the void of his absence through you. Please accept our condolences.
Let me confirm your suspicions. We will go on and on to shareholders about how our decision to remove Bigfoot from our restaurants was based on our strategic focus on quality leadership, profit margins, and other business measures. But in your heart, you can know our commitment to the survivors of Seth and hundreds (thousands?) of Bigfoot victims like him simply required that we remove this well intentioned but unfortunately named product from our restaurants.
Pizza is about having fun, so please accept the attached pop-psychological “Scooby snack” to reprogram your mind to blissful associations with our brand. You’re not alone, Larry. Pizza Hut will always be here for you...perhaps the only thing that will always be here for you. So take this coupon in to your local Pizza Hut today and start healing!
Best of Luck,
Pizza Hut Counseling Services
P.S. -- Jerry, as all of us who’ve lost a loved one know, there will be moments of grief -- ongoing moments of grief. Now you listen to me, Jerry. When those times of darkness set in, run, do not walk to your nearest Pizza Hut and fill that void with warm, nurturing slices of Pizza Hut Pizza.
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