Pizza Hut Presidential Debate question: why not?

The Presidency is a horribly stressful job. Having a sense of humor is a key factor voters should consider. Photo: United Artists Television

SAN DIEGO, October 16, 2012 ― After taking numerous public relations hits, Pizza Hut has backed off its offer of free pizza for life if someone at tonight’s Town Hall presidential debate asked the question “Sausage or pepperoni?”

Oh, the humanity. Oh, the insult to American democracy! The nerve of mocking the American political process! What a thoughtless grab for media attention! How dare Pizza Hut engage in this sort of shameless product placement!

Please. To quote one of my all-time favorite movie lines from Sergeant Hulka in the movie classic “Stripes,” Lighten up, Francis.

Sergeant Hulka is always right. Photo:

Let’s remind ourselves that tonight’s debate is a completely controlled bit of entertainment television. Every butt in every seat at Hofstra University will be filled with pre-screened participants chosen by the Gallup organization who claim to be “undecided voters,” who have no doubt been background checked to within an inch of their lives. Their questions are all pre-screened and chosen by moderator Candy Crowley. Do we really think for a second that anyone is going to ask about pizza?

President Obama and Governor Romney must have a good idea what sort of questions are coming at them, in general terms at least: the economy, jobs, healthcare, defense, maybe some social issues like illegal immigration, gay marriage and reproductive rights.

What would be so bad about asking some unexpected, yes perhaps even trivial questions? We all know you can tell a lot about a person through some basic preferences.

Before you think I’m being outrageous or flippant, there’s serious precedent. Think back to 1994 and the first MTV “Enough Is Enough” town hall discussion with young voters. One of them asked President Bill Clinton the now infamous question, “Boxers or briefs?” Clinton laughed, and to everyone’s surprise answered the question: “Usually briefs.”

Since then, several candidates and Presidents have answered the same question. George W. Bush is a boxers guy. After President Obama said he was a fan, soccer star David Beckham sent the President 50 pair of his boxer-briefs from his underwear line produced for H&M. With Governor Romney, we get into the whole Mormon underwear thing. 

So what is so horribly shocking and wrong about asking “Sausage or pepperoni?” A sense of humor has been shown in numerous studies to have a direct correlation with intelligence and even an evolutionary advantage.

How a President handles a seemingly silly question can be critically important, just as much as how he intends to boost the economy. The Presidency is a horribly stressful job; having a sense of humor to help balance perspective, relieve stress and lighten the load is a key factor voters should consider.

Coke versus Pepsi? Is Mountain Dew a choice?

In this vein, there are several good either/or questions we could consider asking the Presidential candidates.

  • Maryann or Ginger?
  • The Beatles or the Rolling Stones?
  • Coffee or tea? (Only decaf for Governor Romney; Mormons do not consume caffeine).
  • Coke or Pepsi? (See above; but if President Obama said Mountain Dew I’d cheer).
  • Team Edward or Team Jacob?
  • Sean Connery or Daniel Craig?
  • Star Wars or Star Trek?
  • Cats or dogs? (We know it’s dogs; the follow-up is inside or outside the car).

Cats or dogs? Everyone knows it’s dogs, come on.

Pizza Hut is no longer actively asking anyone at the Town Hall tonight to ask the sausage or pepperoni question. It will now randomly choose one entrant who votes on the sausage vs. pepperoni question on its website today for the free pizza for life offer. But the company says it will still make good on the offer if someone does ask.


Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. Read more Media Migraine in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.

Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities at” when quoting from or linking to this story.   


Copyright © 2012 by Falcon Valley Group

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Gayle Falkenthal

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, MS, APR, is President of the Falcon Valley Group, a San Diego based communications consulting firm. Falkenthal is a veteran award winning broadcast and print journalist, editor, producer, talk host and commentator. She is an instructor at National University in San Diego, and previously taught in the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University.


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