When enjoying a delicious, cheesy slice of pizza with all of your favorite toppings, do you ever stop to wonder who invented pizza?
While the shallow, bread-like crust covered with tomato sauce and hot cheese has become a staple of the American diet, pizza has a long legacy that traces back long before the New World was even discovered. So when was pizza invented? In fact, experts have discovered mentions of the word “pizza” as early as 1000 AD in what is now Italy, between Naples and Rome. Even earlier, in 500 BC, Persian soldiers would use their shields to bake flatbreads on the battlefield before covering the bread with cheese and dates. Ancient Greeks also had their own version of a round flatbread called plakountos, which resembled pizza crust and was covered with various toppings.
Where Was Pizza Invented?
The question “where was pizza invented?” cannot be answered with a single answer. Although the invention of pizza cannot be traced back to a single point of origin, most historians agree that the roots of modern pizza lies in Naples, Italy. The invention of the modern pizza – formed as a delicious conjunction of flatbread, tomato sauce, and cheese – has been accredited to baker Raffaele Esposito of Naples. Within his restaurant known as the Pizzeria di Pietro, Esposito baked what he called the pizza in three different forms: one with pork fat, cheese, and basil; one with garlic, tomatoes, and oil; and another with mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil to represent the colors of the Italian flag for patriotism.
A Pie Fit For A King
In 1889, the King of Italy Umberto I and his wife Queen Margherita di Savoia visited Naples on holiday. Since Raffaele Esposito’s restuarant was gaining a reputation as the best pizzaioli in the region, the royal couple called him to their palace to get a taste of his most popular specialties. After delivering the pizzas to the palace as summoned, the Queen returned a letter to Esposito declaring her gratitude and her particular enjoyment with the last specialty. As a result, Raffaele Esposito dedicated the pizza with mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil to the Queen and called it “Pizza Margherita.” From this pizza on, Naples was crowned as the pizza capital of the entire globe and the craft for today’s pizza continued to evolve.
By the late nineteenth century, pizza began to migrate across the Atlantic Ocean with the migration of Italians seeking a new home in America. Although the first pizzeria in the United States is believed to have been opened by Gennaro Lombardi in New York City in 1905, and the Chicago-style deep-dish pizza with its signature flaky crust was invented in 1943 by Ike Sewell at Pizzeria Uno, it was not until the 1950s when pizza started spreading like wildlife outside the Italian-American community. Famous celebrities of Italian descent, such as Frank Sinatra, Joe DiMaggio, and Jimmy Durante, all advertised their love of pizza for all Americans to take notice. Dean Martin even wrote the popular song lyric, “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore” and set America off devouring pizzas for decades to come.
Today, Americans consume an estimated 350 slices of pizza each second. Around 36 percent of those slices are topped with pepperoni, the number one choice for pizza toppings in America. It is extremely difficult to pinpoint an exact date or point of origin, but it is certain that pizza has grown through its long legacy to become one of the most popular foods worldwide. Whether it was the Greeks, Italians, or Persians who discovered the tasty treat, we can all be thankful for their spark of genius.