Pizza is one of the most widely consumed foods in America, but how many people know where it originated? Nicole Monturo walks through the history of pizza and how it slowly became the food sensation that it is today.
In the United States alone, pizza is a $30
billion a year industry. Each year, every
person in the United States eats an average
of 46 slices of pizza, and we cumulatively
consume over an acre of pizza each day.
Pizza was first created in Naples sometime in
the late 1700s. While Naples was a thriving,
waterfront city, the working poor lived in
cramped, densely populated conditions.
As a result, the
working class required
a food that was simple
to make and easy to
eat, and thus, the pizza
These 'pizzas' were
made by topping
flatbread with various
cheese, oil, tomatoes,
garlic, and anchovies.
Wealthy Neapolitans looked down on
the eating habits of the working class, so
when pizza was first created, it was
considered a peasant dish.
In 1889, Queen Margherita and King Umberto I
visited Naples and requested a variety of pizzas
from local establishments. A restauranteur
named Raffaele Esposito created a special
pizza in honor of their visit that consisted of
green basil, white mozzarella, and red
tomatoes, the colors of the Italian flag. The
Queen loved this pizza so much that it's still
named after her today: Margherita Pizza.
Pizza in Italy didn't become common until
the 1940s, but across the ocean pizza
experienced a boom around the turn of the
20th century. The first documented
pizzeria in the United States, G. Lombardi's,
opened in 1905, and it's still around today.