Story of Pizza
No one knows the exact origin of pizza, but the ancient civilizations of the Mediterranean area had foods that were ancestors of pizza. The ancient Greeks wrote about a flat pie with toppings, called maza, that was very popular.
Marco Polo brought a new kind of flat bread back from China in the 1300s that was also favored by the Italians.
In the Middle Ages a new kind of cheese made from the milk of water buffaloes was brought back from India. It’s name? Mozzarella. The breads topped with this cheese were even more like modern pizzas.
The Great Tomato Discovery
The discovery of the New World brought more than gold. The Spanish explorers to South America and Mexico brought the first tomato plants back to Spain. They thought that tomatoes were poisonous and decorative. It wasn’t until years later that some Italian, no one knows who, ate a tomato and a new era of Italian cooking began.
Put It All Together: The First Real Pizza
The first modern pizzas were invented in Naples, Italy. The poor people of the town made several kinds of pizzas, but the first official pizza was made for Her Majesty the Queen Margherita. Raffaele Esposito made a special pizza to honor the Italian flag that had white mozzarella cheese, red tomato sauce, and fresh green basil. It became so popular that it is still sold today as Pizza Margherita.
Pizza Arrives in the United States
The Italian immigrants brought pizza to the United States. The first pizza parlor in America was opened in New York City in 1905. It was much later, after soldiers returned from World War II, that pizza’s popularity spread across the country.
Around the World
Pizza is popular all over the world today. There are pizza parlors in Asia, the Caribbean, South America, Europe, and even the Arab countries. Some popular toppings are: ginger in India, squid in Japan, green peas in Brazil, pineapple in Australia, and coconut in Costa Rica.
Did You Know?
93% of Americans eat pizza at least once a month.
Americans eat billions of slices of pizza each year.
Saturday night is the most popular night for ordering pizza.
The most popular topping is pepperoni.
100 acres of pizza are eaten every day in the United States.