If you were in the United States in the late 1980s (and, say, not a toddler), you probably recognize, however vaguely, the character above. He is — or was — the Noid. From his introduction in 1986 through the end of the decade, the Noid was the mascot of Domino’s Pizza. Domino’s, at the time, didn’t promise good food exactly, but it did promise that their take on pizza would arrive at your home within a half an hour after you called in your order. The Noid, per Wikipedia, was “a physical manifestation of all the challenges (becoming annoyed — ‘a noid’) inherent in getting a pizza delivered in 30 minutes or less.” Domino’s helped consumers “avoid the Noid.”
The Noid, despite the fact that it was incredibly grating, was seemingly popular. There was even a video game released in 1989 called “Avoid the Noid,” where the goal was to deliver a pizza in under a half hour — a task which would have been easy except for the army of Noids armed with water balloons and pizza-seeking missiles. But the Noid — the mascot, not the video game representation — didn’t last through the decade, despite its runaway popularity. He met his end at the hands of a man who shared his name.
On January 30, 1989, a man named Kenneth Noid went into a Domino’s in Atlanta, Georgia. Kenneth Noid didn’t think the Noid character was a coincidence. And he, therefore, wasn’t your typical pizza customer — he was armed with a gun and threatened to use it. Priceonomics recounted the details:
For five hours, he engaged in a standoff with police, all the while ordering his hostages [the two employees at the store at the time] to make him pizzas. Before the police could negotiate with his demands ($100,000, a getaway car, and a copy of The Widow’s Son — a novel about Freemasons), the two employees escaped. In the ensuing chaos, the captor fired two gunshots into the establishment’s ceiling, was forcefully apprehended, and received charges of kidnapping, aggravated assault, and theft by extortion.
The police later explained that Kenneth Noid simply wasn’t in his right mind:
Kenneth Lamar Noid, 22, told police he thinks Tom S. Monaghan, owner of the Detroit-based pizza chain and the Detroit Tigers baseball club, “comes in his apartment and looks around,” said Police Chief Reed Miller.
Investigators believe Noid was “having an ongoing feud in his mind with Monaghan about the ‘Noid’ commercials,” said detective Sgt. Mark Bender. “Apparently, he thinks they’re aimed at him.”
Kenneth Noid avoided prison — he was found not guilty by reason of insanity and instead was sent to a psychiatric institution. Tragically, he never got the help he needed, and took his own life in 1995. As for Domino’s? As TIME notes, the pizza chain “abandoned the creepy pizza-hating Noid shortly thereafter.” The Noid did, however, make a brief return in 2011, celebrating its 25th anniversary.
From the Archives: Thirty Minutes or Less: The woman who survived on a pizza-a-day diet. Emphasis on “survived.”
Related: A set of four collectable Noid figures from 1987. The price reflects how few likely remain.