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what's the history of pizza?
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Today, pizza is one of the most popular fast foods in America. Whether we’re buying it from street stalls, eating it in a restaurant, or making it at home in an oven from pizzaovenhub.com, pizza is practically considered a national dish!
But what’s the history of this delicious food? And how has it changed in the last 200 years?
In this post, we’re exploring the rich history of pizza. From humble street food to gaining the royal seal of approval, read on to find out more.
18th Century Naples
It’s thought that the earliest pizzas developed when people started layering toppings on slices of focaccia. But it wasn’t until the 18th century that the pizza we know and love today came into being in Naples.
Before Italian Unification, Naples was one of the biggest cities in Europe. As the Neapolitan population increased, many of the residents became poorer and needed economical food that was easy to eat on the go.
The solution? Flatbread that was topped with a range of different ingredients, from lard and garlic to cheese, basil, and tomatoes.
Because tomatoes were newly imported from South America, many Italian chefs hadn’t yet incorporated them into their repertoire of recipes. This was partly because they didn’t know how to cook them (after all, they were savoury fruits).
Luckily, this meant that tomatoes were very cheap, making them perfect additions to Neapolitan pizzas.
The Birth of the Margherita
After Italy was unified, pizza rose to prominence. King Umberto and Queen Margherita – the first king and queen of united Italy – sampled the local speciality during a trip to Naples.
Margherita loved the combination of cheese, basil, and tomatoes so much that the pizza topping was name in her honor. Today, margherita pizza with mozzarella cheese is one of the most popular toppings in the US.
Now that the dish had royal associations, its popularity increased. Although it was still most prevalent in Naples, it started to become known as an Italian national dish.
New York’s First Pizzeria
In the early 20th century, many Italians migrated to America. In 1905 in New York, the country’s first pizzeria was opened – a restaurant called Lombardi’s that quickly cemented America’s love for pizza.
As New Yorkers flocked to Lombardi’s, many other restaurant owners started launching their own range of pizzas in an attempt to keep up. This led to a huge number of new toppings, combinations, and flavors. Soon, pizza was no longer native to New York and Americans all over the country were selling exciting regional variations.
Examples of this include the Chicago pizza, which had a deeper crust and more toppings. There was also the infamous Hawaiian, whose combination of ham and pineapple is as controversial today as it was in the 20th century!
The First Pizza Delivery
By the 1950s and 60s, convenience food had well and truly taken off. Thanks to the rise of home appliances such as fridges and freezers, frozen pizzas started to appear in supermarkets. This made the popular food more accessible than ever before.
Originally known as Domink’s, the Michigan-based company Domino’s made the first pizza delivery in 1960. Chain stores such as Pizza Hut have made their names selling new variations of this once traditional dish – and according to data from Statista, there are now almost 80,000 different pizza restaurants throughout the United States.
Between them, these stores sell almost every combination of flavors you could think of. We might have come a long way from 19th century Naples, but over the years, pizza has maintained its reputation as a cheap, quick, and easy meal.