Pizza is a mainstay of the American diet. It’s so popular that it’s hard to imagine life in America without pizza. But it wasn’t that long ago that pizza was not so popular. In fact, it only started gaining mainstream popularity in the 1950s, thanks in large part to the advent of frozen pizza.
The humble beginnings of pizza in America
Pizza was introduced in the United States around 1900 when Italian immigrants began making it using recipes from Italy. Even though it was as delicious then as it is today, the idea of flat dough topped with tomato sauce, cheese and other toppings didn’t catch on with most Americans until after World War II.
Pizza was getting more popular in the late 1940s, and in 1950 a revolutionary innovation was introduced: take-and-bake pizzas. These pizzas reportedly started on the East Coast. One of the pioneers of take-and-bake pizzas was New York baker Leo Giuffre, who sold ready-to-cook pizzas for 49 cents at his shop in 1950.
The frozen pizza explosion
The history of frozen pizza begins soon after take-and-bake pizzas became popular. Americans had just started buying home freezers in the 1940s and 1950s, and people were eager to use the new technology in every way they could. Pizza restaurants had started springing up by 1950, and it was around that time that restaurants started making pizzas and freezing them for customers to cook at home.
Ads for 33-cent frozen pizzas were appearing in newspapers around the country in the early 1950s. By 1954, the first patent for “method for making frozen pizza” was granted, and frozen pizzas were regularly seen on grocery store shelves in the United States. In fact, in that year, the Chicago-based Pizza-Fro brand reported that it had sold more than 5 million frozen pizzas over the previous two years up to that point.
In 1962, Jim and Rose Totino began making mass-produced frozen pizzas in Minnesota. By the 1970s, Totino’s became the nation’s highest-selling frozen pizza, with an increase from $10 million in sales in 1970 to $50 million in 1974. The company was sold to Pillsbury in 1975 and today is best known for its frozen pizza rolls.
Another family-owned business, Celeste, also entered the frozen pizza fray in the early 1960s before being purchased by Quaker Oats in 1969. Tombstone Pizza was born in 1966 to a pair of brothers looking to serve frozen pizza in their bar and neighboring establishments. By 1984, it had grown to have annual sales of $100 million and was soon thereafter purchased by Kraft Foods.
The history of frozen pizzas is based, at its core, on family-owned tradition or serving delicious food that is convenient and easily obtainable. Giovanni’s Frozen Pizza is no exception to this tradition. Thor and Kimm Thorson started their pizza restaurant in Minnesota in 1987, and by 1994, they were making premium frozen pizzas for neighboring businesses. Today when you want great wholesale frozen pizza, be sure to check us out Giovanni’s Frozen Pizza for a taste that can’t be beat.