In November of 1989, Pizza Hut began selling funky sunglasses to promote the release of Back to the Future Part II. As a ten-year-old who liked Marty McFly, pizza and funky sunglasses, I was all the hell in on it.
They were called SOLAR SHADES, and they were AMAZING. Meant to wink at the futuristic fashions seen in the film, Pizza Hut sold the pairs for $1.99 each.
Guys, this was a biiiiig deal. For kids my age, the Back to the Future franchise had that whole aspirational thing going for it. You look at those glasses now and see ridiculousness, but for us back then, they were just plain cool. Wearing them was like being blessed by Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother.
The promotion was a whirlwind of wonders. I mean, just going to a Pizza Hut restaurant meant the world back then. Between the dark wood and the stained glass, Pizza Hut felt like a cross between a church and the bar from Cheers. I guess the crust was sacramental bread?
Now take that and add in a Back to the Future connection, *plus* weird sunglasses. It was like biting three fishing hooks simultaneously. Pepperoni made great bait.
I recently picked up two of the four pairs of Solar Shades, which I’m modeling in the above photos. (I guess “modeling” may be too strong a word, but whatever, I’m wearing them.)
The first pair makes me look like Meshach Taylor from Mannequin. It’s also the exact pair I had as a kid. I got ‘em in November but remember wearing them during our summer vacation in Wildwood, which means that I let my freak flag fly for at least eight months. I wore those nutty sunglasses for EIGHT MONTHS!
The second pair makes me look like a sad bee, and I hope you appreciate the fact that I spent an extra $15 to prove it.
The promotion was bizarre, yet logical. “Futuristic sunglasses” fit the film’s themes as well as any easily-produced novelty could’ve, and selling them at Pizza Hut made perfect sense, too. (Remember that “dehydrated pizza” from the movie? It was Pizza Hut’s, after all!)
If you’re interested in buying some Solar Shades, they do turn up on eBay frequently, but the prices are all over the place. You might find ‘em for a few bucks if you’re lucky, but you’ll more likely get stuck with sellers who won’t take less than $25 per pair. Still worth it if you’re a BTTF fanatic, and/or planning to learn the keytar.