The History of Pizza

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A picture of a freshly baked pizza

From cheap fast-food takeouts to expensive, fancy restaurants, pizza is enjoyed and loved all around the world. This delicious cheesy food has become the favorite food for many people. Although pizza is typically known to be a regular meal for many, it was originally a poor man’s food.

In the ancient times, Greeks, Egyptians, Babylonians, Armenians, and the Israelis made different versions of pizza. It was considered a working man’s food because pizza back then was just baked flatbread. However, the Romans, Greeks, and the Egyptians improved their pizzas by added olive oil and spices onto their flatbreads. Tomatoes were brought to Europe from Peru in 1522, but they were originally considered poisonous, and they became part of a poor man’s diet. The poorer people added tomatoes, olive oil, cheese, and herbs onto their flatbread and made an early pizza. These pizzas quickly became popular in Italy, and it became widely known that Naples, Italy had the best pizzas.

According to legend, pizzas were developed in Naples, Italy when bakers sold excess dough to poor people. The bread developed into one of the earliest pizzas and was decorated with tomatoes, oil, cheese, and anchovies. These pizzas were sold all over Italy because they were cheap, filling, and tasty.  In 1889, Queen Margherita and her husband, Umberto I took a tour of the Italian Kingdom, and she saw many people eating a flatbread. Wondering why it was so popular, she tried it out herself and loved it. She commanded Raffaele Esposito, a chef to make her a variety of pizzas. Esposito decided to make a special pizza that represented the Italian flag which is red, green, and white. He added tomatoes for red, basil for green, and Mozzarella Cheese for white. Queen Margherita liked this pizza so much that Esposito decided to name the pizza, “Pizza Margherita.” When the people of Italy learned that pizza was one of the Queen’s favorite foods, pizza became very popular and “Pizza Margherita” became a culinary tradition of Italy. Also, different variations of pizza started all across Italy and ingredients such as meat, herbs, vegetables, and spices were added.

   Pizzas spread across the world thanks to Italian immigrants moving to other countries. When pizzas first began being sold in America in 1905, business was slow, and the pizza was thought of as a foreign food for a long time. It was not until the 1950s before pizza became popular in the United States. New York became pizza heaven with pizzas being made with different ingredients and different styles. In the 1960s, pizza became even more popular with the invention of frozen pizza. Even places that did not have pizzerias began to know about and love pizza. By the end of the 1960s, the reach of pizza spread even farther due to deliveries. Some interesting facts about pizza are that the U.S. Military Intelligence Unit spied on politicians and reporters by using pizza deliveries. Also, Pizza Hut provided free pizza to those who were resisting a coup in the Russian White House in 1991.

Now pizza is food that people nowadays can’t live without. The rich history of pizza is almost as good as the taste of pizza. Pizza has truly come a long way from being a poor man’s food to a staple food in modern times.