Some may argue that making a frozen pizza at home is actually a better idea than having one delivered. Frozen pizzas are more cost-effective than delivery, and if you buy the right brand, it probably tastes better, too. But what’s the history behind the frozen pizza? If you’ve ever pondered this question before tossing one in the oven, this post is for you!
What’s flash freezing?
Before we start learning about frozen pizza, it’s a good idea to begin with an overview of the history of the flash freezing process that’s so crucial for a frozen pizza distributor. In 1923, a man named Clarence Birdseye invested $7 (about $100 in today’s money) in an electric fan, buckets of brine and a bunch of ice. His idea was to mimic the way people in the Arctic preserve meat by storing it in barrels of frigid seawater. His new method was intended to preserve food for long periods of time without altering its taste.
Fast forward a couple of years, and Clarence was selling flash-frozen foods under the brand Birds Eye Frosted Foods—which you can still find in your frozen food aisle to this day! These flash-frozen meats and veggies are as fresh as can be, and can be shipped practically anywhere in the world.
World War II
The troops who returned to America from Italy after World War II were undoubtedly glad to be home, but they seemed to miss one thing about Europe: the food! Servicemen back in America craved the fresh slices of pizza they got when they were stationed in Italy. Though pizzerias existed in America at that time, they weren’t on every block like in the Old Country. Something had to be done to feed these former troops!
The freezer solution
As freezers became more popular after the war, some pizzerias began selling unbaked frozen pies to try to meet the demand for pizza. The only problem was that the dough got soggy, and the toppings all lacked flavor thanks to ice crystals and chemical changes. This would certainly not suffice! Thanks to our friend Clarence Birdseye and his flash-freezing method, that wouldn’t be a problem for long. Birdseye’s process prevented crystallization and curtailed those chemical changes from happening.
A nationwide phenomenon
Now that pizzas could be baked fresh and flash-frozen to retain their flavor, it was time to make frozen pizzas a national food. Nobody knows who the first frozen pizza distributor was, but the Celentano Brothers were the first brand to market frozen pizzas nationally in the 1950s. Unfortunately, their success was overshadowed by a family we all know: the Totinos.
Rose and Jim Totino’s pizzeria business boomed in 1951 when they began selling their frozen pizzas across the country. Soon, Totino’s was the best-selling frozen pizza in the country.
Frozen pizza today
Frozen pizzas have evolved over the years to keep up with trends adopted by traditional pizzerias. Thanks to the advent of rising crust in the 1990s, frozen pizza sales went from $1 billion per year in 1995 all the way up to $5 billion today!
The next time you’re in the mood for a slice, reach for a Giovanni’s Frozen Pizza! Our ever-growing line of frozen pizzas can be found in grocery stores across the Midwest.