The History of Pizza - Origins

First Italian Pizza

One of the most popular dishes in the world today is without a doubt a pizza. Its long history spans centuries and millennia's, unifying the countries of Europe and later on continents and entire world. As we look further back to the past we can see the origins of the pizza in the 1st century BC as a sort of flattened bread that was used by several European civilizations. The first major breakthrough in the history of pizza happened in 16th century with the arrival of tomatoes from the New World. Often thought as a poor man's vegetable, sauces made from potato soon became integral part of the Italian pizza and which later spread across the entire world.

The earliest known home of ancient pizza comes from the island of Sicily, where archeologist found remains of the 3000 years old flattened breads and tool for their manufacture. The similar kind of dishes papered in the surrounding European areas in the following centuries. One of the earliest mentioning's of pizza came from the historical writings of the Darius, the Great conquest of Europe. It mentions the habit of his soldiers to bake flattened bread on their shields, which were later covered with cheese and dates.

Roman Empire and especially the area around the Naples and Pompeii were famous for their use of pizzas as everyday meals. There are several historical writings from those times that mention their skill in making flattened breads that were afterward seasoned with various toppings. The most famous mention of pizza from that period was one in poet Virgil poem The Aeneid". The volcano disaster that stoke Roman city of Pompeii left immeasurable amount of important archeological artifact for the modern historians. Among the ruins of the preserved city, archeologist found many signs that proved the common existence of pizzas in Roman Empire - street stands where pizza was sold, bakeries where they were made and even equipment that baker used. The other parts of Europe continued to make variations of flattened bread dishes, with many of them surviving even to today (coca from Catalonia and Valencia, Greek Pita, Turkish Pide, Lepinja or Solmun in Balkans).

The arrival of tomatoes from the new world represented one ingredient for the incredible rise of the pizza popularity. The center of pizza innovation was centered in city of Naples, where local cooks first started implementing now famous tomato topping. By late 18th century pizza reached great popularity on the streets of Naples. It was sold in the poorer sections of the city, which became popular tourist destination of many Italian and European sailors that visited that city. As the pizza became more popular, the vendors that sold them became more organized. The first modern pizzeria Antica Pizzeria Port'Alba was opened in 1830, and soon after that many more followed it.

History of Pizza - Picture

The moment witch solidified popularity of Pizza in Italy happened in 1889, when famous Naples pizza chef Raffaele Esposito made three pizzas for Umberto I King of Italy and his wife Queen Margherita di Savoia. His successful pizza presentation made his designs part of an Italian food culture, and consummation of pizza continued to spread across Italy.

America became acquainted with pizzas in late 19th century, when many Italians colonized several US cities. Concentrated Italian presence in Chicago, New York City, and Philadelphia became one of the first areas where pizza was sold in United States. At first, street vendors sold pizzas in Italian districts, but soon after street peddlers who walked up and down the Chicago's Taylor Street and sold hot slices of pizza to surrounding traffic. As the popularity of pizza grew, the need for dedicated restraint that served only pizza brought the foundation of first pizzeria in USA. Created by Gennaro Lombardi in Little Italy, Manhattan, this pizzeria was active all up to 1984, until it was reopened 10 years later by Lombardi's grandson.

Although popularity of pizza grew in the USA, it was mostly limited to the Italian immigrants and their descendants. The moment that brought true international fame of the pizza happened after end of the World War II, when soldiers returning from the European fronts brought with themselves an appetite for this incredible dish. Another big promotion for pizza happened during 1950s when many American celebrities of Italian origin started promoting pizza, most notably Jerry Colonna, Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Durante, and baseball star Joe DiMaggio. As the new pizza parlors became formed across the entire America, the beginnings of the modern pizza industry started being born. Some of the most famous worldwide pizza franchises founded in that period were Pizza Hut in Wichita, Kansas (1958) Domino's (1967) and Papa John's (1984).

Today, American pizza business has shifted from the selling meals at the location of restraint to the companies that specialize in pizza delivery. Many of the old giants have also accepted the transition to this kind of business. Popularity of pizza continues to grow even today, and many public events and festivals are held in the honor of this incredible dish (such as World Pizza Championship where best cooks from entire world fight for the title of best pizza maker).