CHICAGO -- From the convenience store to the restaurant, few foods can get customers in the door like pizza. In fact, 42% of c-store consumers order a pizza from a convenience store at least once a month, according to Technomic’s latest C-Store Market Intelligence Report.
Our colleagues at our sister publication, Restaurant Business, have mined Technomic’s Consumer Brand Metrics data to compile a list of the 10 chains that consumers say offer the most craveable pizzas. They’re ranked from 10 to 1, in order of the percentage of restaurant goers who call the pizza craveworthy.
Click through to see how these chains stacked up…
10. Marco's Pizza
Two-fifths of recent customers crave the pies at Marco’s Pizza. Consumers specifically call out the White Cheezy pizza with four types of cheese, bacon and garlic butter sauce as a craveable option. Several consumers also point to Marco’s pepperoni topping as craveable. The chain describes the topping as “Old World”—a sign that Italian authenticity is reason for craveability for some guests of Marco’s.
9. Little Caesars
More than two-fifths of recent consumers say Little Caesars offers a pizza fix they can’t get anywhere else, with one recent respondent declaring, “The taste of the pizza they make cannot be had elsewhere.” Numerous respondents point to the chain’s Detroit-style deep-dish pizzas as craveworthy. Many also hanker for Little Caesars’ numerous crust options, such as stuffed, bacon wrapped and pretzel, which often return for limited runs.
The chain, which is ranked third among pizza chains by sales, has recently attempted to extend the crave factor of its lunch and dinner pizzas into breakfast with a variety of egg-topped Pizzini sandwiches, tested at 10 locations.
8. California Pizza Kitchen
More than two in five recent customers find the pizza craveworthy at California Pizza Kitchen, one of only two full-service chains in the top 10. The chain’s Original BBQ Chicken Pizza, which has been available since CPK’s founding in 1985, is the clear favorite in the craveworthy category among respondents. With barbecue sauce, smoked gouda, red onion and cilantro, this signature pizza is one of three available with all the chain’s crust options. And some respondents even call out the specific crusts—original hand-tossed, crispy thin and gluten-free—as being craveable.
7. Hungry Howie's Pizza
Over two-fifths of recent consumers say that the pizza at Hungry Howie’s is a craveable item they can find nowhere else. Many consumers indicate the chain’s flavored crust is craveworthy, something the self-declared “home of the original flavored crust pizza” uses to differentiate from other pizza chains.
Crust options beyond its original crust flavor include butter, butter Parmesan, Cajun, sesame, garlic herb, ranch and onion—some of which respondents singled out as craveable on their own.
6. Pizza Hut
Pizzas at Pizza Hut—the top-ranked pizza chain by sales—are craveable items that almost half of recent customers say they can get only there. Many respondents point to the chain’s original stuffed crust—an item that debuted in 1995 with a TV spot featuring none other than the current president of the United States—as being craveworthy. But many versions of stuffed crust have arisen since, including the most recent Grilled Cheese Stuffed Crust Pizza.
Compared to most other chains in the top 10 ranking, respondents were less likely to point to a specific Pizza Hut pizza as being craveworthy. This may not be surprising, as the chain’s been focusing much of its recent attention on tech initiatives such as pizza sneakers and chatbot ordering.
5. Uno Pizzeria & Grill
More than half of recent customers crave the pizza at Uno Pizzeria & Grill, the only other full-service brand found in the top 10 aside from CPK. Uno specializes in Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, and that’s precisely what most consumers say they crave at this chain. One customer says, “I love the chunky sauce and the crumbly sausage in the Chicago Classic deep dish.”
Last summer, Uno launched Chicago-style thin-crust pizza, and a few customers also say they crave this variety—though not nearly as many as deep dish.
4. Papa Murphy's Pizza
More than half of recent customers crave Papa Murphy’s take-and-bake pies and say they can’t get them anywhere else. Many consumers list all three of the chain’s available pizza sauces—red sauce, creamy garlic sauce and olive oil and garlic sauce—as craveable.
Several other recent customers say that Papa Murphy’s Gourmet Delite pizzas (which feature a low-calorie thin crust) are craveable, such as the Gourmet Vegetarian, Angus Steak & Roasted Garlic and Chicken Bacon Artichoke varieties.
The majority of recent customers say that Sbarro serves up a pizza they jones for and can’t get anywhere else. This chain specializes in New York-style pizza—a style that most recent Sbarro customers say they crave in their survey responses. Another thing consumers appreciate about the chain’s pizza slices is the portion size. Many respondents say no other pizza chain offers slices as big.
The number-one craveable pizza topping at Sbarro that consumers call out is pepperoni, which makes sense, as it’s offered on three of the chain’s five current New York-style slices.
2. Jet's Pizza
Three-fifths of recent consumers hanker for a Jet’s Pizza pie and say they can’t find one like it anywhere else. Hailing from Michigan, this chain is known for its square, deep-dish pizzas, a style that most customers say they crave. Dubbed 8 Corner and 4 Corner, Jet’s pizzas are available with mozzarella and choice of toppings.
Beyond Jet’s cornerstone menu item, customers also crave the wide variety of flavored crusts the chain offers, which range from garlic and cheesy to Cajun and a signature version called Turbo that combines butter, Romano cheese and garlic. Many recent diners also find the BBQ chicken pizza with bacon and red onion as craveworthy.
More than three in five recent customers rate Cicis pizza as craveworthy, elevating this pie to the top spot. The Mac & Cheese pizza is a clear favorite when it comes to craveability, followed by the Buffalo chicken pizza. The chain’s dessert pizza, in both apple and Bavarian varieties, is another pie that recent customers say they can’t find anywhere else.
Cicis also offers stuffed-crust pizza and often features limited-time stuffed-crust flavors, such as bacon or pretzel, which many customers find craveworthy. Other diners just crave the variety available at Cicis’ buffet-style setup. They can eat slices from all their favorite pizzas without having to choose just one.