Did Pizza Hut Actually Invent Stuffed Crust In The '90s?

If you were paying fastidious attention to '90s fast food commercials, you may remember that it was none other than a former reality TV star and U.S. President and his ex-wife to first hail the backward goodness of Pizza Hut's stuffed crust pizza in the spring of 1995. Yep, it was Donald and Ivanka Trump to say "crust first."

The concept of stuffing dough with a delicious filling has been around for ages, but the idea of putting cheese into the crust edges of a pizza has only been around since the 1990s. Pizza crusts are often thrown away or discarded by some finicky eaters, which is likely how the term pizza bones came to signify crusts since they were left over. Enter the stuffed crust, the marrow to the pizza bone, if you will, giving pizza fans a reason to eat the crust. Food scientist Patty Scheibmeir is often credited for inventing the stuffed crust, but that claim to fame isn't without contention.

Given the dog a pizza bone

The year is 1992. Scheibmeir, a recent college graduate, was adjusting to life as a full-time employee as an entry-level food scientist. During a focus group meeting, a middle-aged man droned on and on about "pizza bones," the crusts that he would feed to his pet dog. This complaint caught Sheibmeir's attention and stayed on her mind. She then sought out a way to make the entire pizza appealing so that a good chunk of it wouldn't be wasted, and at the grocery store, she found inspiration in the form of string cheese.

Fast forward a few years after refining the stuffed-crust recipe, Pizza Hut took the new product to market and was met with record sales, turning pizza bones into profit. Other pizza chains, like Papa John's, followed the stuffed-crust trend. Scheibmeir's stuffed crust invention is here to stay, but another inventor claims that he was the one to first put cheese into the crust.

A 1987 stuffed crust pizza patent

Soon after Pizza Hut launched its beloved stuffed crust pizza, a lawsuit hit the chain in the fall of 1995. A family-run pizza company, Angelo Mongiello's Children LLC, sued Pizza Hut for a billion dollars, claiming that the mega-chain stole their stuffed crust idea, which they had filed a patent for in 1987. Allegedly, the family had even approached Pizza Hut with opportunities to license their ideas, but their attempts were rebuffed.

Pizza Hut representatives claimed that they were in no such violation of any patents, and in 1999 the case finally made its way to court. Angelo Mongiello's Children LLC lost their case, but Brooklyn native Anthony Mongiello has long maintained that he was the one to first invent stuffed crust in the media. Patty Scheibmeir, however, is unbothered: she continues to innovate the pizza game: most recently, she's launched "sticky fingers" pizza for the Pie Five Chain, a pepperoni pizza drizzled in spicy, hot honey.