For 7,000 years, within nearly every culture, there has been some form of pizza (flat bread seasoned with oil and herbs) as a dietary staple. In 1905, Gennaro Lombardi, an Italian immigrant, opened the first pizzeria in New York City and in the decade following, pizza parlors started popping up throughout the country.
However, it wasn’t until 40 years later when soldiers had returned home from World War II and wanted a taste of the savory treat they had found in Europe that pizza gained it’s popularity. Shortly thereafter, national chains began popping up; the first being Pizza Hut in 1958, Little Caesars in 1959 and Domino’s in 1960, making pizza more accessible to all Americans.
Fast-forward five decades and there is an estimated 70,000 pizza parlors in the US—9,000 of which are in New York alone. Statistics show that worldwide over 5 billion pizzas are sold annually, and American’s consume 60% or 3 billion of them– that’s a staggering number that begs the question, why do we love it so much?
Is it the fact that you can share it? Sure, you can order a personal pizza or a slice if you happen to be alone, a germaphobe or a foodie requiring a bizarre combination of toppings that your friends or family wouldn’t dare try, but pizza was originally intended to be a food that is shared. It’s likely that your first memories of food involved pizza–a staple at childhood birthday parties, sleepovers, after a soccer game or little league, on your first date, what may have felt like every meal throughout college, Super Bowl Sundays, most Saturday Nights or any day you couldn’t decide what to cook for dinner. Is it the variety or ability to customize?
There are countless options–with thin crust, thick crust, stuffed crust or deep dish, coal-fired, wood-fired, traditional, grilled, gluten free or deep-fried. There are white pizzas, veggie pizzas and Mac & Cheese pizzas–Hawaiian, Greek and Mediterranean pizzas–lobster, caviar and sushi pizzas–PB&J, Apple Pie, Smore and Nutella pizzas.
The options are never-ending. With toppings from anchovies to zucchini and everything in between, you can create a pizza to satisfy any imaginable craving. While there is someone out there willing to try a pizza with every conceivable combination, it’s highly unlikely that pepperoni will ever fall from favor. In the US, we consume 252 million pounds of pepperoni on pizzas annually.
Throughout the US, there are many dedicated regional styles of pizza such as New York, Brooklyn, Chicago, Detroit, California, St. Louis and New Haven. So, regardless of where you live or where you are from, if you call it a pizza or a pie, if it’s round or square, if it’s sweet or savory, if you fold it or eat it with a fork and knife, eat it hot for dinner or cold for breakfast, one thing is certain, pizza will probably continue to be a dietary staple for another 7,000 years and possibly the only choice in life that everyone from babies to great grandparents can agree on and more importantly share.
In South Florida, New York style reigns supreme. So when you are craving authentic New York style pizza, try DelVecchio’s Pizzeria & Italian Restaurant which uses only the freshest ingredients today!
By: Kelly Baker