The Evolution of Pizza

Americans are obsessed with pizza–it’s everywhere!   Have you noticed that pizza is an evolving food?  When I was a kid, most pizzas were very basic, consisting of crust, tomato sauce, cheese, and usually pepperoni or sausage.  No one expected too much from pizza and most were happy with the limited number of toppings, etc.  In fact, pizza didn’t really gain popularity in America till the 1950’s.

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Here’s a brief history of 20th century pizza:

1943– Chicago-style deep-dish pizza (a pizza with a flaky crust that rises an inch or more above the plate and surrounds deep piles of toppings) was created by Ike Sewell at his bar and grill called Pizzeria Uno.

1945 – With the stationing of American soldiers in Italy during World War II (1941-1945) came a growing appreciation of pizza. When the soldiers returned from war, they brought with them a taste for pizza.

1948– The first commercial pizza-pie mix, “Roman Pizza Mix,” was produced in Worcester, Massachusetts by Frank A. Fiorello.

1950s– It wasn’t until the 1950s that Americans really started noticing pizza. Celebrities of Italian origin, such as Jerry Colonna, Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Durante, and baseball star Joe DiMaggio all devoured pizzas. It is also said that the line from the song by famous singer, Dean Martin; “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that amore” set America singing and eating pizzas.

1957– Frozen pizzas were introduced and found in local grocery stores. The first was marketed by the Celentano Brothers. Pizza soon became the most popular of all frozen food.

In recent years I can think of several pizza innovations:

  • Cheese Filled Crust
  • Pan Pizza
  • Square Pizza
  • BBQ Chicken Pizza
  • Hawaiian Pizza
  • Alfredo Pizza
  • Salad Pizza
  • Dessert Pizza
  • Choice of Crusts (deep dish, thin, etc.)
  • Four Pizza’s in one
  • Side orders like wings, bread sticks, garlic toast, etc.
  • Better frozen Pizzas
  • 2 for 1 Pizzas
  • Giant Pizzas
  • French Bread Pizza
  • Personal Pizzas
  • English Muffin Pizzas
  • Expensive Gourmet Pizza
  • Wood Fired Pizza
  • Cheap Pizza (3 for $15)
  • Sicilian Style – toppings baked directly into the pizza.
  • Fast Pizza Delivery

My favorite pizza is pan pizza with “the works”.  My least favorite pizza is over priced, “gourmet” pizza.  In fact, I could do an entire blog about over priced gourmet pizza.  What’s your favorite?

9 Responses

  1. I think my favorite now is the BBQ Chicken pizza with Bacon. I like the sweetness of the BBQ sauce with the salty smokiness of the bacon.

  2. I like Jack’s frozen bacon/cheeseburger pizza but my favorite was John’s (long gone restaurant) flaky-bubbled-crispy-crust bacon and black olive pizza! (It had the best crust ever!!)

  3. Pizza is the greatest American cultural theft since… borrowed democracy from the Romans

  4. I rather like sausage pizza

  5. the best pizza is a meat loaded pizza …..

  6. i LOVE extra cheesy peperoni pizza w/ little sauce, in a square shaped and cut square!

  7. my fav is thin crust bacon.

  8. I personally enjoy thick crust pizza with a little sauce and lots of cheese, with some chicken, tomatoes, and peppers. Yum!

  9. Just because someone calls it “gourmet pizza” that doesn’t make it so…

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