Did you know that over 350 million tons of frozen pizzas are sold every year? That’s a lot of dough! (Get it?) Well, anyway, it might surprise you to know that frozen pizzas are a fairly new phenomenon.
Frozen pizzas have only been around since the 1950s, when soldiers returning from Italy at the end of World War II craved the delicious pizzas they tried overseas. Although pizzerias that served fresh pizza had been around in the U.S. for some time, the idea of having a frozen pizza you could have to bake at home was a new idea. So, who then is responsible for the frozen pizza you buy in the grocery store today? To answer that question, we need to go back to the 1920s.
In the 1920s, a fellow named Clarence Birdseye observed that people living in the Arctic had a unique way of preserving food. They would put fish and meats in barrels of seawater that were quickly frozen by the frigid arctic temperatures. Clarence wondered if there was a way that he could use a similar method to preserve other types of food.
After a bit of trial and error, and a lot of ice, Clarence discovered a way to flash-freeze food products in convenient packages without altering their flavor and texture. By 1930, Clarence’s flash-frozen fruits, vegetables and meats hit store shelves (or should we say the freezer aisle) under the name Birds Eye Frosted Foods.
Now, you may be thinking that Clarence Birdseye was the first person to sell frozen pizzas in the U.S. Well, not quite. Although Clarence was responsible for the flash-freeze process that made frozen pizzas a possibility, he was not the first person to sell frozen pizzas.
Unfortunately, we may never know who was truly responsible for the invention of frozen pizza. Several pizzerias tried it using traditional freezing methods, but the crust always ended up soggy, or moisture would ruin the taste of the vegetables. The first people to use the Birdseye flash-freeze process to successfully make frozen pizzas and distribute them nationally were the Celentano brothers.
The Celentano brothers owned an Italian specialty store in Newark in the 1950s, where they sold all sorts of Italian foods, from pastas to meats. In 1957, they utilized the Birdseye flash-freeze method to create frozen pizzas that they then distributed to grocery stores across the U.S. Although we can’t be certain who “invented” the very first frozen pizza, we do know that the Celentano brothers were the first to sell frozen pizzas nationally in the U.S.
Frozen pizza has come a long way since 1957. Today, a visit to the freezer aisle at your local grocery store will include a display of a wide variety of frozen pizza brands to choose from. Although the Celentano brothers’ pizza may have been the first, it’s not the best. For the best frozen pizza in the U.S., try Giovanni’s Frozen Pizza. As we like to say, it’s so good, you won’t believe it was ever frozen!