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Pizza Hut tries to take down Subway with P'Zolo sandwich

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We don’t know what Subway ever did to Pizza Hut, but the quirky pizza chain is attempting a “takeover” of the sandwich giant’s market with its new P’Zolo concept.

Pizza Hut? Making a sandwich? Coming from the company that has ringed its crusts with mini-cheeseburgers and stuffed them with hot dogs, it’s not really a stretch.

The chain’s new product, officially launched this week, comes in Meat Trio, Italian Steak and Buffalo Chicken and looks like a cross between a sub, a roll and a Costco-style chicken bake. Each comes with either ranch or marinara dipping sauce and sell for $3 ($5 for two).

Pizza Hut’s bid for sandwich domination involves transforming a pair of Chicago Red Line subway trains into giant P’Zolos and handing out freebies to passengers on Thursday. They’re calling it — natch — a “Subway Takeover.”

Subtle, they’re not. Then again, the P’Zolos’ creators also say they’re “rescuing sandwich-lovers from the doldrums of cold cuts.”

“It's more than a sandwich,” crows Kurt Kane, Pizza Hut’s chief marketing officer. “It's a new flavor creation that is leaving the sub category behind."

Good luck with that. Subway ranks behind only McDonald’s as the U.S. restaurant chain with the most sales, beating out even Starbucks, according to research group Technomic.

The company has been at the sandwich game for years, dominating a market that continues to grow.

More consumers said they buy sandwiches compared with two years ago as sellers lower prices, expand menu options, use fresher and more healthful fare, offer flexible portions and more, according to Technomic. As the restaurant industry lost 4,500 establishments last year, limited-service sandwich shops opened 800 more units.

Grab-and-go sandwiches are increasingly popular, as are gluten-free versions and options on specialty breads such as focaccia, ciabatta and sourdough.

The P’Zolo debut also illustrates the identity crisis that seems to be sweeping through the quick-service industry.

Dunkin’ Donuts’ newest product is a breakfast burrito stuffed with scrambled eggs and cheese. Some Subway locations are trying out nachos made with Doritos chips (the same brand used by Taco Bell when they introduced their Doritos Locos tacos this year). Starbucks, known for its coffee, has branched out into juice, alcohol and, as of Monday, artisan bread.

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