About six months after I started eating gluten-free, I stopped eating out in an effort to eliminate gluten cross-contamination. I would either take my own food out or just eat at home. My birthday almost two years later was my first time eating out at a restaurant since that time. It was at a 100% gluten-free restaurant. While it was a wonderful experience, it was not local. When I found out that Pizza Hut was offering a gluten-free pizza on Udi’s crust and would use GFCO-certified procedures to make it, I was excited. I was ecstatic when I found out that my local Pizza Hut would be carrying it. Finally I would have a local restaurant where I could get something safe for me to eat! After reading up on the pizza and feeling confident to approach the staff at my local restaurant about it, I went there to ask about the pizza. Someone behind the counter was able to go over the ingredients with me to make sure there were no other surprises. Everything seemed great. I didn’t actually get to go to try it until later in the spring, and I went there for lunch with my parents. They brought out my pizza in the gluten-free box with its own cutter. I was so excited that I actually ate the whole pizza in that one sitting. I loved it! I remained symptom free after eating the pizza as well.
In the fall, we had a Sunday School party. Everyone decided to order pizza, and we got it from Pizza Hut so I could get a gluten-free pizza. I went with another person to pick up the pizzas because I wanted to check everything out. They presented me with the gluten-free Udi’s pizza box, and the pizza inside looked great. I was able to enjoy pizza with my friends that night, pizza that I didn’t have to buy from the grocery store or make myself. I got to get it with everyone else’s. The pizza was great then too, and I didn’t get any symptoms from it.
At work, later that same year, we had a food drive for the local food bank. My area was competing with others in the department to see who could collect the most monetary donations and pounds of food. My area won by quite a big margin, and we got a pizza lunch as our prize. The closest Pizza Hut that actually had the gluten-free pizza was in another community, and it was too far away for them to deliver. A coworker who was helping to organize the lunch did a really wonderful thing for me. She decided to drive to the Pizza Hut to pick up the gluten-free pizzas as well as one without cheese for someone else in my area with a cheese allergy. I was so beyond grateful for what she did. Because of what she did, I was able to enjoy pizza with my coworkers and get to eat basically what they were eating. Usually I would either bring my own food or just eat my lunch afterwards, meaning I got to sit there with no food or with just a drink in my hand watching others eat. That pizza was fine too; I had no problems with it. I also got to take back almost an entire box home with me. I was able to spread out the pizza over a couple of meals for that weekend. I really loved it.
I’m so thankful to Pizza Hut for taking time to develop procedures that would allow them to make pizzas that would be safe for those who are extremely sensitive to gluten cross-contamination to eat. The staff at my local Pizza Hut seemed very knowledgeable when I spoke to them about the pizza. One of them actually took time to write out the ingredients of the sauce and crust for me so I would know what was in them. I never spoke to anyone at the other Pizza Hut about their pizzas, but my coworker did, and it sounded like the staff there was also knowledgeable. I hope other similar restaurants in the future will take Pizza Hut’s lead and develop truly safe menu options for all people eating gluten-free to enjoy.
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