A Brief History of Pizza
There is no denying that pizza is a perfect meal suitable for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. With 61,269 pizzerias, 3 billion pizzas sold every year, and about 251,770,000 pounds of pizza consumed annually, it is safe to say that pizza is a beloved treat in the US. Part of what makes pizza so successful are its various forms, from rectangular thick crusted Sicilian pizza, to round pizza baked in Neapolitan pizza ovens, pizza is never boring.
The origins of pizza date back to about 500 BCE, when people of the Middle East and Mediterranean baked flatbread on hot stones and topped it with oil, herbs, cheese, and dates. By the 1700s, the working poor in Naples continued the tradition of eating flatbread with various toppings; however they baked the dough and the garnishes together. In 1830, the first pizzeria was established in Naples and continues to run today. The original pizzas were simple with limited toppings; the most notable pizza being the Margherita which is composed of mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil. Legend has it that the Margherita pizza earned its name after Queen Margherita, who while on a visit to Naples, tasted the delectable treat and loved it. It was Queen Margherita’s celebration of pizza that ignited a pizza craze throughout Italy.
Meanwhile in the U.S., Italian immigrants made and sold cheese pizzas and tomato pies (which feature the sauce on top of the cheese). After World War II, American soldiers returned from their deployment in Italy with a craving for pizza, sparking pizza’s rise in popularity across the Atlantic.
The post-war era brought on a reemergence of pizza. The development and expansion of pizza chains in the 1950’s enabled the deliciousness of pizza to spread beyond U.S. borders. The 1950’s also saw the beginning of pizza innovations with frozen pizza. Shortly after, pizza began to take various forms like rolls and bagel bites. Pizza innovations continue to be seen not just in the freezer aisle in the local grocery store but also in pizzerias: from the introduction of stuffed crust in the 90’s, and to the bacon-wrapped crust that graces commercials and billboards today.
As pizza aficionados in the U.S. debate about which pizza is the superior form–Chicago style deep dish, or the pie baked in Neapolitan pizza ovens–the popularity of pizza continues to grow around the world with pizzerias opening in the Caribbean, Palau, and the Middle East.
By cattalin from Pixabay