The History of Pizza

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Although the true origin of pizza is uncertain, many people believe that it was first created in Italy, however, this statement is uncertain. Many historians conclude that it dated back to the ancient middle east when the Greeks, Armenians, Israelis, Romans, and Babylonians were making their own versions of this delicious food. They would bake flattened bread in their mud ovens, and people would eat it because it was cheap and easy to make.

In the 1520s tomatoes were brought from Peru to the European Countries. Originally these red crops were thought to be toxic and often were found in the meals of poorer Naples communities. They started to top their bread with slices of tomatoes, creating the first simple pizza. This became a very common meal because of the easy accessibility to the ingredients. Before the 1520s, pizzas were often topped with cheese, anchovies, oil, and garlic.

Another theory about the origins of pizza begins in Naples, a waterfront Italian city, around  600 B.C.E.. Naples was packed full of poverty-stricken people that discovered this flatbread. The pizza was topped with any available items and was sold by many street vendors. It was often purchased because it was inexpensive and was an easy dinner for busy workers. Although pizza began as a food for people who lacked money, this bread quickly spread to the more wealthy population.

The first official pizza shop in America was opened in 1905 in New York and was called Lombardi’s. Before Lombardi’s shop, pizza was available in most Italian neighborhoods, although most just baked it themselves at home. After Lombardi’s success, many other bakers began to take the inspiration of the Italians and Americanize pizza by taking non-Italian ingredients and using them as pizza toppings. Though Lombardi’s had its grand opening in 1905, it took pizza almost 45 years to be considered an American food, and not a foreign meal.         

Margherita pizza is one of the most iconic pizza styles. According to the legend, the Italian Queen Margherita and King Umberto Ⅰ were visiting the city of Naples when the noble pair grew tired of only eating French cuisine. The queen then requested an array of pizzas from the Naples Pizzeria Brandi, the successor of the Da Pietro pizzeria, which was founded in 1760. The variation that Queen Margherita was said to have enjoyed the most was the early form of the Margherita pizza, a pie the colors of the Italian flag, with green basil, red tomatoes, and soft white cheese.

Approximately 93 percent of Americans have eaten pizza in the past month and over 5 billion pizzas are sold worldwide every year. People in America eat about 46 pizza slices a year. The US population eats approximately 100 acres of pizza a day. Even though the true roots of pizza are undiscovered, one thing is known for sure. This world-renowned meal is thousands of years old and still is eaten by millions of people around the world.