If you’re like us, you’re a pizza buff who loves the art of pizza-making and is passionate about this flavorful, cheesy, saucey, hot and delicious dish. You may also be wondering how this incredible, versatile fare got its start and became a staple in our everyday lives. You’ll be surprised to learn that the history of pizza goes back to ancient times, transforming throughout centuries to the staple we know and love today. Check out a snapshot of the history of pizza below and see how people are continuing to revolutionize pizza-making.
An Ancient Recipe for Greatness
According to Wikipedia (the source of all knowledge on the internet and the source for most of this article), the history of pizza most likely began in ancient times with focaccia, or a flatbread with toppings. However, much of the rest of the world was also experiencing some form of pizza as we know it. The Persians in sixth century BC enjoyed flatbreads with cheese and dates that were baked on top of their battle shields. Ancient Greek citizens made flatbread that was flavored with herbs, onions, cheese and garlic. But the word pizza, a word with so much meaning to us nowadays, was first recorded in A.D. 997 in Gaeta, a province of central Italy.
A Sweet Surprise
You may be surprised to know that in the late 19th or early 20th century, pizza was actually sweet, not savory. Pellegrino Artusi, an Italian businessman and writer, created the cookbook “La Scienza in cucina e l’Arte di mangiar bene,” which translates to “Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.” This early-twentieth-century cookbook included three recipes for pizza, all sweet (and probably just as delicious as savory pizza).
The Modern Pizza
Modern pizza as we know it was developed in Naples, Italy, in the late 18th century when someone innovatively (and wisely) included tomato to the dish. It was common for the poor in this area to include tomato to their flatbread, and so the pizza was reborn.
One story recalls that on June 11, 1889, the Neapolitan pizza-maker Raffaele Esposito crafted the “Pizza Margherita” to honor the Queen consort of Italy, Margherita of Savoy. This “margherita pizza” was garnished with tomatoes, mozzarella and basil to represent the national colors of Italy, red, white and green.
Before World War II, pizza was mainly eaten in Italy until Allied troops stationed in Italy reveled in this dish and other Italian staples. The dish became quite popular (as you can imagine), and was even a tourist attraction as travelers ventured to Naples’ poor areas to try this local cuisine. According to documents, in 1807, there were 54 pizzerias in Naples, and in the second half of the 19th century, they more than doubled to 120.
The United States of Pizza
Pizza first came to the United States in the late 19th century with the arrival of Italian immigrants. Peddlers would walk up and down the streets with a metal wash tub filled with pizzas on their heads, selling a slice of pizza for just two cents. It didn’t take long for cafes and grocery stores to carry this dish mainly for Italian Americans.
Before the 1940s, the only people who really ate pizza were Italian immigrants and their descendants. After World War II, veterans returning from Italy, who were already introduced to Italy’s main cuisine, became avid pizza-lovers. And shortly thereafter, so did the rest of the country.
And, well, the rest is history. Pizza chains like Pizza Hut (founded in 1958), Little Caesars (1959), Domino’s (1960) and Papa John’s (1984) sprang up. Then chilled and frozen pizzas became readily available in grocery stores. Now there are approximately 61,269 pizzerias in the United States, and on average each person in America eats about 46 pizza slices per year. Pizza may have started centuries ago, but it has proven that it’s here to stay (and more delicious than ever).
Now that we’ve scraped the surface on the history of pizza, take a look at some other major milestones in pizza-making.
- In 1905, Gennaro Lombardi was credited to having opened the first pizzeria in the United States in New York City (in a part now known as Little Italy).
- In 1943, it’s said that Chicago-style “deep dish” pizza was created by Ike Sewell at his bar and grill, Pizzeria Uno.
- In 1962, the “Hawaiian” pizza (a point of contention for pineapple-haters) was invented in Canada.
- In 1012, the world’s largest pizza was created in Rome, measuring at 13,580.28 square feet or 1261.65 square meters in area.
- In 2016, a robotics company called BeeHex built robots that 3D-printed pizza.
From how we make pizza to what we put on it, the pizza industry continues to evolve to this day. And we’re part of that evolution. In 2019, we developed Pizza Chef, a revolutionary new way to cook pizza on the stove. Pizza Chef utilizes a patented prep and insert tray and a flat top heat reflective lid that ensure pizza perfection in just 10 minutes. Learn more about how this innovation in pizza-making can change the way you cook pizza at https://buypizzachef.com/.