History of Pizza – From Italy to Greece to the US
Most people think that pizza originated in Italy. But Greeks are credited with inventing the first "edible plate." Their Flat Bread was covered with oil, spices, and dates. Tomatoes were not discarded yet. The Romans also made a type of long, narrow pizza that they sold by the meter.
Pizza as we know it was an invention of baker Raffael Esposito. He cooked three types of pizza for the King and Queen of Italy, Umberto I and Margherita di Savoia. The Queen had asked the pizza, although some felt she should not be eating what was considered "peanut food" at that time. When the Queen loved the treat, it secured Raffael's claim as the inventor of modern pizza and Naples as the pizza capitol of the world. Raffael used tomatoes, cheese, and basil to create a pizza with the colors of the Italian flag. He called it the Margherita pizza.
At one time pizza was known as tomato pie. For people used to eating apple and peach pie, the name did not create a positive impression. The word "pizza" evolved from there.
The first pizza place in America was opened in New York City in 1905 by Gennaro Lombardi. In Chicago, peddlers sold pizza on the streets in large metal containers. The containers had false bottoms with charcoal underneath to keep the pizza warm. Ike Sewell created deep dish pizza in his Chicago bar in 1943.
After WWII, the returning servicemen begin telling everyone about the amazing Italian dish and even thought about having their own pizzerias. This increased the popularity of pizza in America.
It was not until the 1950s that pizza became a national staple. Dean Martin singing the lyrics, "When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie" is actually credited as one of the things that added to pizza's rise in popularity.
The first Pizza Hut opened in 1958 in Wichita, Kansas by Dan and Frank Carney. They used $ 600 borrowed from their mother as their starting capital. They chose the name Pizza Hut because their sign had room for nine letters and spaces. Their first slogan was "Putt Putt to Pizza Hut." They historically franchised and Pizza Hut became the first chain of pizzerias.
Over three billion pizzas are eaten every year in the US alone and over 350 slices are consumed per second. World-wide, five billion pizzas are ateen per year. The most popular pizza topping in the US is Pepperoni with over 36% of all orders requesting this spicy meat.
Frozen pizzas were invented in 1957 and quickly became the most popular frozen food. In 1987, October was declared National Pizza Month. The good news is you do not have to wait until October to eat pizza. Pick up a phone and you can have your own "tomato pie" delivered straight to your door in less than hour.
Whether its deep dish, thin crust, or hand tossed, pizza is a world-wide favorite.