Is pizza popular? All you need to do is look around—pizza is a favorite at restaurants, parties and office and school events. Pizza experienced a long evolution before it became the favorite takeout meal of today. So, when did pizza become popular? That started when immigrants brought the dish to large cities around the nation and U.S. forces during World War II had a chance to expand their palates. Here is the story of pizza in the U.S.
Origins and development
The earliest versions of pizza were actually flatbreads. These go way back—Darius the Great consumed baked flatbreads with cheese and dates as long ago as the 6th century. Ancient Greeks enjoyed a flatbread topped with herbs, onion, cheese and garlic. Other ancient flatbreads include focaccia, coca and the Greek pita.
In the 16th century, the name “pizza” arose in Naples. It was simply a galette flatbread with few toppings. This early pizza was a street food served to the working class. Later, oil, tomatoes and fish became more common toppings, with the well-known pizza margherita being created in 1889. That variety features tomatoes, mozzarella and basil with a drizzle of olive oil.
From the margherita, pizza evolved into many variations of the tomato and cheese dish. It was mainly a sweet dish, but varieties became more savory in the late 19th and early 20th century. By 1927, the familiar recipe featuring marinara sauce and mozzarella became more mainstream.
The love of pizza
Americans learned of pizza from Italian immigrants who arrived in the late 19th century. New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Trenton and St. Louis hosted the largest populations of Italians, and the popularity of pizza started growing in these cities.
The first pizza restaurant was opened in 1905 by Gennaro Lombardi. The venture started as a grocery store in 1897 named Lombardi’s. Before the restaurant started, the store made tomato pies at lunchtime for the area’s workers.
Before the 1940s, pizza was primarily a food of the Italian working class. After World War II, soldiers returned to the States enthralled by Italian cuisine. This enhanced an interest and market in pizza. That started the evolution of pizza into a pop culture icon. It even made an appearance in a Popeye episode in the 1960s.
Cities started creating their own variations of pizza. New York has a specific style, as does Chicago. In fact, the Chicago-style deep dish pizza many people crave was invented in 1943. It remains featured at Uno Pizzeria & Grill, which was originally Pizzeria Uno.
Now, you have the option to purchase fast food pizza at a chain, enjoy it at a pub or visit an artisan restaurant for many unique varieties. The popularity of pizza also opens up fundraising and distributor opportunities, and that’s where we come in.
Giovanni’s Frozen Pizza is a wholesale frozen pizza manufacture, and our distributor network and fundraising plans proves pizza is popular. Contact us today to learn how these opportunities can be put to work for your organization.