History of Pizza - as part of the news and politics series by GeoBeats.
Believe it or not, pizza has been around since the 6th century BC. Historians recorded that Persian soldiers used to bake flat breads on their shields and cover them with cheese. In Pompeii, amidst the ashes, there is evidence of the popularity of the flat pizza pie. Even Virgil in The Aeneid wrote about these “cakes of flour.”
If you ask me, Italy has had a long time to perfect the recipe. It only got better with the introduction of the tomato from Peru in the 16th century.
In the 1800’s, what we know as “modern pizza” – with dough, tomato sauce, and mozzarella cheese – was invented by a man named Raffaele Esposito, who owned a bakery in Naples. He called it a “Pizza Margherita” after the queen of Italy.
Pizza was introduced to the Americas about a century later through a small pizzeria in New York City. However, popularity didn’t catch on until after World War II, when soldiers stationed in Italy developed a taste for pizza.
Regions of the United States went on to develop the “tomato pie” based on regional tastes. There is the thin-crust New York-style pizza, deep dish Chicago, Neapolitan wood oven, thick crust Sicilian…the list goes on and on.
Today, Americans consume approximately 100 acres of pizza per day – that’s 3 billion pizzas per year. Pizza is a $30 billion industry, with pizzerias composing 15-17% of all restaurants.
In other parts of the world, pizza is loved just as much, but depending on where you are, you might find different toppings. In Japan, you might open the box to squid ink sauce, hard boiled eggs, mayonnaise, sweet corn, potatoes, or various seafood toppings. In India, you can find Pizza Hut and Dominos, but along with the usual toppings, they offer pickled ginger, minced mutton, and tofu. In Costa Rica, a favorite is coconut.
One thing is for sure, after its years of development in different regions across the world, no pizza pie is exactly the same!