Do you love pizza? If so, you’re not alone! According to Pizza.com, more than 90 percent of Americans consumed pizza last month. Statistics show that there are more than 5 billion pizzas sold throughout the world each year, with around 60 percent of those being sold in the United States.
If you’ve ever been chowing down on your favorite slice and found yourself wondering who came up with such a delicious invention, you’re in luck. We took the time to compile a brief history of pizza. No matter if you’re seeking to satisfy your curiosity or impress your friends and family, we’re sure that you’ll put this pizza knowledge to good use!
Scientists have evidence demonstrating that flatbread foods have existed for more than 6,000 years. However, it’s believed that pizza as we know it originated in Italy around 1000 B.C. This means that the concept for what we consider to be traditional pizza is more than 3,000 years old!
Evidence of pizza first appeared when the word “pizziare” started showing up in Italian writings. The word roughly translates to “to pinch a point.” This is likely a reference to the crust on the pizza, as chefs would “pinch” the dough to create a crust.
Pizza Receives A Major Upgrade
Although the concept for a dish made of crusted dough first appeared in 1000 B.C., pizzas received a significant upgrade around the year 1500. That’s because this is when Italy first learned what tomatoes were after the vegetable was introduced to the region from South Africa. Ironically, Italians first thought that the tomato plant was an invasive species and that it was poisonous.
It wasn’t until the 17th century that more impoverished Italians decided to try tomatoes. They not only learned that they were not poisonous, but that they were incredibly delicious and nutritious. They began adding tomatoes to their bread dough, creating a product that is more like today’s Margherita pizza.
The Pizza As We Know It Today
Even though tomatoes were introduced to bread dough in the 17th century, it wasn’t until 1889 that pizza, as we know it today, began to take form. Italians knew of mozzarella cheese since the 7th century, but they did not introduce it to their bread dough until 1889, or the end of the 18th century.
This means that it took Italians nearly 150 years to add cheese to the bread dough after they first added tomatoes. It’s believed that the first pizza was created in Italy by a tavern owner in Italy named Don Raffaele Esposito. He wanted to create a dish that paid credence to the colors of the Italian flag: red, white, and green. So, he created a pizza that had:
Esposito named his creation the Margherita Pizza. His inspiration for the name came from Margherita Teresa Giovanni, who was the Queen of Italy at the time. A few years later, pizza managed to make its way to the United States. Gennaro Lombardi is credited with opening the first United States pizzeria in New York City in 1905.