Pizza Hut was one of my favorite places to eat as a child. The restaurants always had cool arcade machines by the door, including the great four-player Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game and the epic six-player X-Men cabinet. It was heaven for a young, slightly dorky kid, especially since the pizza chain would give out free pizza for reading books.
You signed up for the Book It! program, you got stars when you finished a book, and you could turn your progress in for free pizza.
It was a big deal if you were a kid who liked books growing up in the '80s and '90s, because saving a few bucks on a single personal pizza meant somehow it was easier to talk your parents into taking you. So many of my friends remember this promotion, and speak of it fondly. And now it's back!
The Book It! Alumni Program asks you to send in some information, and Pizza Hut will send you a coupon for a free personal pan pizza for carryout. That's it. You don't get points for reading and there's no poster you need to update; you basically just agree to hand over some personal information and you get what amounts to a coupon.
It's an amazingly effective way to build up a huge mailing list, and all it took was cashing in on someone's nostalgia for a neat program they took part in growing up.
It's not all cynical — there is a nifty program for school teachers to help incentivize their children to read — and it's kind of neat to be reminded of a program that so many people remember so fondly. If any other restaurants want to give out free junk food in exchange for reading books, I'm in. I'm reading anyway; may as well get some pizza out of the deal.