The 13th Floor

Enter THE NOID: How Domino’s Mascot Drove One Man To Insanity

It’s happened to you. You order pizza and it shows up late, cold, and only vaguely reminiscent of the delicious, steamy pie you had in mind.  Is your delivery guy to blame? Most likely. But there’s a chance your pizza was sabotaged by something else. Something dastardly. Something inhuman. Your pizza may have been decimated by the Noid: Domino’s maniacal mascot from the eighties.

Describing the Noid is akin to describing Satan. He’s red. He has horns (or ears?) sprouting from his head. He has both human and animal features.  He is absolutely grotesque to the point that it hurts to look at him. And he’s hell-bent on destroying all that is good and pure in this world, namely, pizza. The Noid was the evil spawn of ad agency Group 243. Instead of enticing customers with melting cheese and smiling families, Group 243 tried a different approach. They created a physical manifestation of all the pizza problems that could occur on the way from the store to your house. The Noid was born to be Domino’s arch-nemesis.  But the foul gremlin was no match for the pizza chain’s “30 Minutes or Less” delivery guarantee.  Domino’s always came out the victor.

But the Noid didn’t just attempt to ruin fictional pizzas. He actually succeeded in ruining one man’s life. On January 30, 1989, a young man walked into his local Domino’s. It was 11 o’clock in the morning. A little early for pizza, maybe, but this man wasn’t there for a slice. He was there to exact revenge. Brandishing a fully loaded .357 magnum revolver, Kenneth Lamar Noid declared that the Domino’s employees were his hostages and they were to do as he said.

Source: Detroit Free Press Wed, Feb 1, 1989

This was not a random act of terror. This moment was the culmination of three long years of this man’s psychological torment. Kenneth explained to his captives that Domino’s owner, Tom Monaghan, had stolen his name, routinely spied on him in his apartment, and was personally antagonizing him with the “Avoid the Noid” campaign.  Still wielding the.357 magnum, Kenneth ordered the employees to call Domino’s headquarters to demand $100,000 and a white limousine as a getaway car. His requests seem almost laughable. A paltry $100K? A tacky limo?  As a hostage attempted to make the call, Kenneth fired one warning shot into the floor. He was deadly serious.

When the police arrived at Domino’s, Kenneth made a small concession. He would exchange an employee for the most peculiar request of all: a copy of the science fiction book, “The Widow’s Son.”  A novel may be a strange appeal in a hostage situation, but this particular book was about an all-powerful super elite who control the world. Clearly, Kenneth was a person who would be susceptible to such conspiracies. An officer fulfilled the bizarre request, only for Kenneth to change his mind about the offer.

Source: Courier-Post  Wed, Feb 1, 1989

As the police standoff continued, something unexpected happened to Kenneth.  He got hungry. What happens when your stomach starts to growl while holding up a Domino’s? You ask your hostages to make you a pizza, of course. Make that two large pizzas with everything on them. Kenneth finally put his gun down on his lap to tuck into Domino’s mediocre mess of cheese, meat-like products, and tomato sauce. In that moment of pizza-induced weakness, Kenneth let his guard drop and the employees escaped from their captor. After holding Domino’s hostage for six hours, Kenneth Lamar Noid finally surrendered to police. He was charged with kidnapping, aggravated assault, extortion, and possession of a firearm during a crime.

Although Domino’s desperately wanted to keep the Noid in their ad rotation, the monstrosity was retired one year later due to the negative publicity surrounding the hostage situation. Domino’s “30 Minutes or Less” guarantee followed suit and was discontinued shortly thereafter because it was causing reckless driving and vehicular manslaughter.  As for Kenneth Lamar Noid, he was deemed acutely psychotic by doctors and found innocent by reason of insanity at his trial and sent to the Georgia Mental Health Institute.

Source: Hartford Courant Thu, Aug 24, 1989

Unfortunately, Kenneth was never able to get the Noid out of his head.  He spiraled deeper into insanity and committed suicide in 1995. So, the next time you order delivery from Domino’s and the result is less than perfect, eat that cold MeatZZa with a smile on your face. You have it pretty good. At least you’re not convinced that the owner of Domino’s is out to get you with a ghastly claymation henchman.