At C.J.’s , we take pizza seriously. While pizza has been around for ages and everyone has their favorite pie, do you know the origins of America’s favorite cheesy food?
The History of Pizza
Over three billion pizzas are gobbled up each year in the US. That’s just about forty-six slices per person! While flatbread dishes have been around since the early days of Rome, the pizza pie we know and love originated in Naples in the 18th century. As the city of Naples grew larger, the economy struggled and they needed to created a need for a cheap food source for its locals. Enter pizza. Street vendors would walk around the city with large boxes under their arms cutting slices based on each customers needs. Toppings began as cheap, easy to find ingredients such as garlic, lard and salt – ooh gross! Some began to add cheeses like Caciocavallo and Cecinelli, which are stretched-curd cheese made out of sheep’s or cow’s milk.
While on a visit to Naples in 1889, King Umberto I and Queen Margherita were being served rich French dishes everyday for breakfast, lunch and dinner and desperately craved something different. In quick preparation for some local specialties for the queen, the Pizzaiolo Raffaele Esposito cooked three pizza: one with lard, Caciocavallo cheese and basil; another with Cecinelli cheese; and a third with tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. The queen loved it! Her favorite – the last of the three – was christened Pizza Margherita in her honor.
After this, pizza toppings got much more imaginative. By the end of the 19th century, Italian emigrants had already reached the East Coast and in 1905, the first pizzeria – Lombardi’s – was opened in New York City. After this, pizza was recognized as an all american food. Each restaurant that picked it up placed its own spin on the Italian pie and started to grow into the pizza we love today.
Near the start of World War II, a Texas business man named Ike developed the Chicago Style Pizza. Deepening the crust, and piling high rich meats and cheeses. Beef, bacon, sausage, and pepperoni became the most widely popular choices for toppings as well as various vegetables such as peppers, mushrooms, olives and so many more. Whatever Ike could fit into his deep dish crust he certainly did. The Rocky Mountain Pie was created around the same time in Colorado. This pizza was more of a dessert meant to be enjoyed with honey drizzled over the top. A few years later, Hawaii added pineapple and ham to their pizzas, confusing the folks in Naples, but it turned out to be a wild success in North America!
As society evolved in the 1950’s, and people were thinking (and eating) outside the box, ingredients had to change to accommodate home baking instead of large pizza ovens. This meant switching from large slices of tomato to a creamy tomato paste to keep the dough soft even when frozen, as well as the change to the softer mozzarella cheese.
While the pizzas today are far removed from the original simplistic pies from of old, pizza is still recognized today as a good, heartwarming meal to share with friends and family! Here at CJ’s we strive to give you the flavors you love, piled high and loaded with the flavors you love, so you will experience love at first slice.