Domino’s Noid: A Tragic Tale Of Mascots, Hostages & Suicide

By Debra Kelly on Friday, March 25, 2016
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“I went to a pizzeria, I ordered a slice of pizza, the f—er gave me the smallest slice possible. If the pizza was a pie chart for what people would do if they found a million dollars, the f—er gave me the ‘donate it to charity’ slice. I would like to exchange this for the ‘keep it!’ ” —Mitch Hedberg

In A Nutshell

Domino’s Pizza had one of the most bizarre mascots of the 1980s: the Noid. A demented little gremlin in a red onesie, the Noid was an anti-pizza monster. (Only Domino’s pizzas were Noid-proof.) In 1989, Kenneth Noid had grown convinced that the campaign was specifically targeting him, so he took two Domino’s employees hostage at a store in Atlanta. Deemed to be a paranoid schizophrenic, he was passed into the state’s mental health system and ultimately committed suicide in 1995, still under the impression that the Noid was after him.

The Whole Bushel

If you’re a child of 1980s America, you grew up with one of the most bizarre corporate mascots of all time: the Domino’s Pizza Noid. If you’re too young to remember (or out of the range of Domino’s $500 million empire), we’ll give you a quick recap on what this strange thing was. Surprising no one, the Noid came in fifth on Time magazine’s list of creepiest product mascots.

The rather inexplicable Noid was a buck-toothed, gremlin-like creature that dressed in a bright red body suit with rabbit ears, a black “N” on the front, and track-shoe soles on his feet. He was absolutely insane, and he was created on the premise that he was one of the biggest obstacles to getting your pizza delivered to you in 30 minutes or less.

The whole advertising campaign was built around how Domino’s pizzas were, for some reason, Noid-proof. Placing your order with Domino’s was the only way to guarantee the Noid wasn’t going to destroy your pizza before it got to your door.

Eventually, the Noid would be given a questionable sort of life by Will Vinton Studios (the same company behind the California Raisins). The Noid became a Claymation monster, the stuff bad dreams are made of. Still, he spawned a whole campaign, including buckets of merchandising and two entire video games.

The Noid’s name was a play on the word “annoyed,” but unfortunately, it was also the name of a very real person who became convinced that the entire campaign was targeting him.

Kenneth Lamar Noid, a 22-year-old from Atlanta, Georgia, had become increasingly convinced that the Noid was him. He thought the Domino’s commercials were clearly making fun of him, and on January 30, 1989, he walked into a local Domino’s Pizza and took two people hostage. Armed with a .357, Noid held out for five hours while he demanded $100,000, a car, and a copy of The Widow’s Son, a novel about the Freemasons and secret societies.

He also insisted his hostages keep making him pizza.

Ultimately, the police ended the situation and the hostages were released. Once in custody, Noid confided to police that he was the target of the advertising campaign. He also insisted that Domino’s founder Tom Monaghan often went into his apartment and rifled through his things.

Later, the courts ruled that he was innocent by reason of insanity, and Noid was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. From court he was passed into the state’s Department of Human Resources and into the Mental Health Institute.

As if the story wasn’t tragic enough, it has an equally heartbreaking ending. Noid’s time in the mental health system couldn’t help him get past the idea that he had been targeted by the pizza chain and he committed suicide in 1995. The Domino’s Noid had disappeared long before that, resurfacing briefly for his 25th birthday in 2011.

Show Me The Proof

Time: Top 10 Creepiest Product Mascots; Advertising Characters
LA Times: Pizza Workers Can’t ‘Avoid Noid’—Held Hostage 5 Hours
Priceonomics: How Domino’s Pizza Lost Its Mascot