A Brief History of Pizza

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What is pizza? Simply put … bread topped with tomatoes or bacon. It has been around for close to 3,000 years; its origins are believed to be Italian. The word itself is believed to be from an Old Italian word “pizziare,” which means “to pinch.” This cuisine has, however, spread throughout the world and become a favorite meal for most households.

In the beginning, pizza was baked bread topped with tomatoes and basil. Tomatoes were new to the Italians at the time. They were skeptical about them at first, believing them to be poisonous. Poor farmers decided to give them a try as topping on baked bread. Hence, the first pizza was made. When nothing happened to the poor farmers, tomatoes started gaining popularity. At the time, mozzarella cheese was becoming popular among food lovers.

Don Raffaele Esposito, who owned a tavern, came up with the idea to add mozzarella cheese to the original flavor. In 1889, he made a pizza with mozzarella cheese, basil, and tomatoes that bore all the colors in the Italian flag. This pizza was named “Margherita Pizza” after the Italian Queen, Margherita Teresa Giovanni.

When the Italians were migrating to America around the 19th century, they did not leave behind their pizza tradition. The first real pizza outlet in America was established by Gennaro Lombardi in 1905 in New York. A hundred years later, America boasted almost 61,000 pizza outlets throughout the country. This proves that pizza is a favorite food among Americans. It is estimated that on an average day, about 13% of Americans eat pizza. The pizza business in America earns the country about $37 billion per year. That accounts for almost a third of the global market.

What changed the “pizza-scape” in America forever was the proliferation of chains. Shakey’s Pizza and Pizza Hut were the first to make pizza as a commercial business and opened up chains all over the country. This was around the early 1950s. Little Caesar’s emerged in 1959, and Domino’s started in the 1960s, both in Michigan. The number of pizza chains has increased over the years, with independent pizza outlets rising from all over the country. Pizza Hut seems to have become the bearer of the pizza taste standard.

Pizza gaining ground in the USA also led to the rise of many different pizza recipes. The most favorite topping among Americans is pepperoni. The least preferred pizza topping is anchovies. In Canada, the most popular pizza is the “Canadian Bacon” pizza. This pizza is similar to the Margherita pizza. There are many variations of this pizza. The most distinct Canadian feature of this recipe is the bacon and mushrooms. Vanelli’s Pizza is Canada’s biggest pizza chain. The first international outlet was in 1995 and has expanded to over 110 locations worldwide. However, Vanelli’s is the only Canadian brand to open outlets internationally.

The biggest pizza consumer worldwide is America. It is estimated that one in every eight Americans eats pizza on any given day. Adults gain approximately seven hundred calories on every pizza eating session in America. This alone accounts for 37% of the saturated fat in our bodies. Consuming foods with lots of fats can develop into unhealthy eating habits and can cause health complications like obesity, high blood pressure, or even heart diseases. We are encouraged to minimize unhealthy diets.

Pizza has shown no sign of stopping as many countries worldwide are embracing it. Pizza outlets are sprouting all over the continents and developing countries equally. It looks like pizza is here to stay.

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