When I was young I thought you would feel old when you got grey hairs, or your back gave out as you got out of bed or when kids you babysat for were suddenly serving you at the pub. The truth is I felt eternally youthful until that moment a few weeks ago when an email popped up in my inbox loudly proclaiming that Pizza Hut's signature stuffed crust first appeared over two decades ago.
I think the real reason it made me feel so ancient is because I remember stuffed crust being launched. I was in America, visiting Vegas, and I remember sitting transfixed in my hotel room, watching an advert starring Andre Agassi and Pistol Pete Sampras where the latter turned his slice of pie around and ate it crust first. Something about this was so fascinating, yet unsettling that I knew I had to try it for myself (eaten the right way, point first, of course, I'm not an animal).
Sadly, I couldn't find the original advert, but I did find the the Donald and Ivana Trump ad from the same series. Quite enough to put you off your dinner but still marginally less annoying than the Damon Hill and Murray Walker one we were subjected to on this side of the pond.
After all that excitement I can't actually remember my first stuffed crust pie. It may have been on that holiday, or it may have been back in in Blightly where the stuffed crust didn't arrive until a full two years later. Of course, whenever it was, the glamorous Hollywood lure of a shiny pie and it's stretchy strings of glossy cheese were sadly exposed by the reality of a leaden base with a stuffed crust that more resembled a hardened artery (and probably your reward if you ate too many).
I can, however, remember my best stuffed crust. Stealth, who had a job at the High Wycombe Hut, would sometimes meet me in town after working a late night shift. If I was very lucky and asked extra nicely she would bring an individual deep pan pizza - Super Supreme, no green peppers - with a modified stuffed crust base. To paraphrase Kevin McCallister, a whole stuffed crust pizza just for me. Pretty much the only reason our friendship endured, really (Obviously that is not true Mummy P, she also bought cold Big Macs to sixth form for me).
Pizza Hut have also just released a special anniversary crust collection with limited edition versions that are stuffed with ham, cheese (and mustard, if you like it spicy), garlic butter and cheese and jalapenos and cheese. We tried the ham and cheese, nice but not really exciting enough to match the simplicity of the original.
I have to confess, of all the Hut's recent inventions, the one I was saddest to see being withdrawn was their individual cheeseburger crust - yes, that's cheeseburgers, stuffed on a pizza - with spicy ketchup. My waistline, however, was far happier.
While I don't possess any pictures of me actually eating said stuffed crust, I do have some pizza pictures from an earlier American holiday, taken in those halycon days of youth, circa 1991, before the fabled stuffed crust even existed.
These shots show another behemoth, that sadly didn't prove quite as popular, called the 'Bigfoot'; a straight-edged pie with two foot by one foot dimensions. Two square feet of my favourite food for dinner. In the pre Man Vs Food days this was a serious amount of dough, although one that clearly proved no match for the Roscoe family who, from the after shot, clearly all wanted a pizza the action*.
(*no charge for extra cheese)