Brief History of Pizza

Image of a hot wood oven warming up. Ready to cook traditional Italian pizza.

Pizza and its flatbread ancestors have a flavorful history that can be traced back thousands of years ago. Today, pizza has become one of the most popular food items in the world and just about every topping imaginable has been added to this time-tested favorite. From breakfast pizzas to dessert pizzas, deep dish to thin crust and everything in between, it is easy to find a style and flavor that you can enjoy. From the ancient ruins of Mediterranean Islands to just about every small town in America, pizza has come a long way to become one of the most beloved foods ever. Here is a brief history of the origins of pizza and of how this favorite food staple came to be!

History of Pizza:

Around 1000 B.C.– Ancient remains of flattened bread were found by archeologists in Sardinia, a large island off of the coast of Italy in the Mediterranean Sea.

500 B.C.- Darius the Great of the Persian Achaemenid Empire and his soldiers, had stories written about their conquests. These stories had mentions of baking flat bread on their shields over a fire and putting cheese and dates on top. Perhaps the earliest mention of pizza in history.

100 B.C.– Evidence was found in the ruins of Pompeii that proves pizza was a common part of Italian life. Workshops, shops, and tools were found untouched that were used for making and selling pizzas.

1522– Europe began importing tomatoes from America and the people of Naples, Italy combined it with their cheesy flatbreads and word spread quickly from the busy seaport throughout Europe. Thus modern pizza was created.

18th Century– The Queen of Naples, Maria Carolina d’Asburgo Lorena, had a special oven in her palace to make pizzas.

1830– Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba was the first pizzeria ever to open in Naples.

1889– Umberto I and Margherita di Savoia, King and Queen of Italy, requested that that Raffaele Esposito, the most famous Pizza Chef in Naples, create pizzas for them.

The early 1900s– Street peddlers sold the first Italian pizza in America in the streets of Chicago. The slices were kept hot by keeping them on cylindrical drums that were filled with hot coals. The popularity grew quickly for this unusual food item.

1905– Gennaro Lombardi was an Italian immigrant who received the first license for baking and selling pizzas in New York City. Lombardi’s on Spring Street became the first pizzeria in the US.

1925– In New Haven, CT, Frank Pepe opened the famous Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana.

1943– Ike Sewell in his restaurant “Pizzeria Uno” invented Chicago-style deep-dish pizza.

1945-50– Soldiers returned home from WWII with a newfound love for Italian food, namely pizza. Big name celebrities like Frank Sinatra and Joe DiMaggio also started promoting pizza.

1958– Pizza Hut opened in Wichita, Kansas. Frank and Dan Carney were students at the University of Wichita when they converted an old bar into a pizza store. In a few short years, Pizza Hut grew to be a billion-dollar company with locations across the globe.

1959– The first Little Caesar’s opened by Mike Ilitch in Garden City, Michigan.

1967– Domino’s was founded in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

1984– Papa John’s first opened in Jeffersonville, Indiana.

1995– “Self-rising” crust developed by Kraft.

2009– the EU passed a ruling that protects Naples’ Neapolitan pizza as a cultural food heritage. This meant that any establishment wanting to craft and sell pizza as authentic Neapolitan pizza had to adhere to strict standards for the ingredients and process used to make it. As for Neapolitan pizza in Miami, the best place to get one for yourself is at Ironside Kitchen Pizza & Coffee Co


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