Domino’s Pizza is bringing back a mascot with a controversial history, according to an announcement from the company on April 26, 2021.
The Noid was a villainous mascot created by the pizza company in the mid-1980s. With rabbit ears and buck teeth, the Noid was meant to act as a foil for the company, constantly trying and failing to thwart attempts to fulfill delivery orders in less than 30 minutes. The idea for it came from the rivalry between the delivery-focused Domino’s and Pizza Hut, where customers mostly ate in the restaurant at the time.
In a statement, Kate Trumbull, Domino’s vice president of advertising, described why the Noid returned: "The Noid is Domino's oldest and most famous villain, and the pizza delivery testing we're doing with Nuro's autonomous vehicle is exactly the kind of technology innovation that could provoke the Noid to return. However, after 35 years of practice in avoiding the Noid, we're pretty confident we know how to defeat it."
But the Noid was also associated with a more troubling real-life incident involving hostages and a gunman. According to The Washington Post, in 1989 a gunman who shared the same name as the mascot, Kenneth Lamar Noid, attacked a Domino’s restaurant in an Atlanta suburb and took two employees hostage as a result of a misunderstanding.
According to a 1989 Associated Press report, a police officer said that Noid was ″having an ongoing feud in his mind with the owner of Domino’s Pizza about the ‘noid’ commercials. Apparently, he thinks they’re aimed at him.″ The police engaged in a standoff with Noid who wanted $100,000 and an unidentified library book in return for the two hostages’ release.
According to The Washington Post, Noid also demanded a white limousine that could serve as a getaway car and insisted on talking to Domino’s owner directly. He felt that Domino’s owed him money for the name, according to one of the employees he took hostage. When the police arrived he reportedly fired four warning shots into the ceiling.
The standoff lasted six hours after which Noid surrendered peacefully and the hostages escaped. No one was hurt. Noid was charged with kidnapping, aggravated assault, and theft by extortion, but a judge ruled he was not guilty of the charges by reason of insanity. He received psychiatric care, but Noid died by suicide in 1995.
Despite this history, the company seems eager to bring the Noid back. Noid's return will include appearances in the “Crash Bandicoot” gaming series and Domino’s promotions of its driverless cars, which are meant to streamline deliveries. According to Domino’s statement:
Domino's Pizza Inc. (NYSE: DPZ), the largest pizza company in the world based on global retail sales, has always had one nemesis: the Noid – an antihero that has been trying to prevent great pizza delivery since 1986. Maybe it was the chaos of 2020 that gave the Noid the confidence to return, or possibly the fact that Domino's has continued to innovate around great pizza delivery with amazing technology. Whatever the reason, the Noid simply can't stand it anymore, and the pesky antihero has returned in Domino's new television ads, which begin airing today, trying to thwart the advanced technology of Nuro's R2 robot, a completely autonomous, occupantless on-road vehicle, out on a pizza delivery.
Starting May 7, the Noid will join the newest installment of the Crash Bandicoot gaming series, Crash Bandicoot: On the Run!, a new mobile adventure that honors the rich 25-year history of the beloved franchise. For a limited time, the Noid will be featured as one of the game's mini bosses, pitting players against the Noid as Crash progresses through the story. Avoiding the Noid has never been so fun!
Given that Domino’s announced it would be bringing this character back, and the real-life hostage situation connected to the mascot was widely covered by news at the time, we rate this claim as “True.”