8 Hot-N-Ready Facts About Little Caesars
By Erika Berlin
Little Caesars has been serving up two-for-one deals for decades, and the purveyors of Hot-N-Ready pizza and Crazy Bread have become the No. 1 carry-out pizza chain in the country. Find out more about the pizza chain with the Julius Caesar lookalike for a mascot.
1. Founder Mike Ilitch used to scout pizza joints.
Back in the '50s, pizza was considered a novelty snack, not an actual dinner option. When Ilitch was traveling to different towns playing shortstop with a minor league baseball team, he'd use his spare time to check out the local pizza parlors and taste-test their recipes.
2. The Ilitches put their life savings into opening their first restaurant.
After four years of marriage, Mike and his wife, Marian, had saved up $10,000. They put all of it into opening their first location in Garden City, Michigan, in 1959, and by 1962 they'd sold their first franchise.
3. "Little Caesar" was Marian’s pet name for Mike.
Mike had wanted to name their new business Pizza Treat, but Marian thought they should call it something more personal. "I considered him my ‘little’ Caesar," she’s said of her 5’9” husband, who is of Macedonian decent.
4. Once Ilitch was wealthy, he acquired the Detroit Tigers because he had history with the team.
Jonathan Daniel// Getty Images
Before the Ilitches opened their first Little Caesars in a Detroit suburb, Mike was a hometown guy whose baseball career with the Detroit Tigers’ farm team was cut short by a knee injury. Ilitch has been aiming to win a World Series ever since. He bought the team in 1992, and the Tigers did win the American League pennant in 2006 and 2012. He's made a pretty funny pledge (or possibly a challenge?), though: When asked if he would wear the hefty championship ring if his team comes out on top, Ilitch replied, "Right in my nose."
Ilitch also owns Detroit's hockey team, the Red Wings, and the famous Fox Theatre in downtown Detroit.
5. Little Caesars' famous "Pizza! Pizza!" tagline isn't trademarked in Canada.
That's because there's actually a pizza chain there called Pizza Pizza. That brand has been around since the late '60s, and Little Caesars didn't trademark their catchphrase until 1979.
6. The man behind the "Pizza! Pizza!" voice also created "Where's the Beef?"
Cliff Freeman, the ad guy behind both of those campaigns, auditioned hundreds of voice actors for the quickie line, but Ilitch eventually just asked him to do it himself.
7. Little Caesars has a history of making funny commercials.
In the '90s, they had ads touting their new delivery option. There was a commercial in which a sweet old man named Nunzio made a horrible dinner for his family. And this year, a new commercial was like "who needs confusing technology when you can pick up your own pizza?"
8. Bill Murray used to gorge on their dough.
Note: Not Bill Murray.
Everyone's favorite party-crasher told Jimmy Kimmel last year that when he was a starving artist with a job at Little Caesars, he would snack on the dough while rolling pizzas.