You’d be hard pressed to find an American man or woman who doesn’t love pizza. The paradigmatic cheesy, saucy and crust-tastic pies that fly through our daydreams (and night dreams) represent easy food at its very best. It’s hard not to be enthusiastic about such an accessible, versatile, affordable and delicious offering. But how much do you really know about the ‘zah you claim to love, other than the fact that it’s Italian or something?
Put your knowledge to the test with our timeline and move one step closer to becoming a pizza scholar, the best thing any self respecting human can be.
The first documented use of the word “pizza” appears in Gaeta, Italy.
Tomatoes are first brought to Europe from the Americas following the discovery and settlement of the New World.
The poor of Naples begin to add tomatoes and tomato sauce to their flatbread and focaccia recipes. The street food gains popularity rapidly and open-air pizza stands are established throughout Naples.
Alexandre Dumas writes extensively about pizza and the wide variety of toppings he encounters in Naples in Le Corricolo.
A massive wave of Italian emigration to the United States begins. Over the course of the next 40 years, 4 million Italians arrive in the United States. The vast majority of these emigrants come from Sicily, Naples and Southern Italy.
Genarro Lombardi opens a pizzacentric grocery store in New York. This grocery store goes on to become the “first” pizzeria in America following the issuance of a merchant’s license in 1905.
It is fabled that Neapolitan pizza maker Raffaelle Esposito invents a pizza for the visiting Queen Margherita. He uses mozzarella, tomato sauce and basil to mime the colors of the Italian flag and dubs his creation the “Pizza Margherita.”
The Boston Journal publishes the first printed reference to pizza in the United States. Vincent Bruno opens Chicago’s first pizzeria in the Loop.
Joe’s Tomato Pies becomes New Jersey’s first pizza place after opening in Trenton.
Former football star Ike Sewell and chef Lou Malnati invent deep-dish style pizza at Pizzeria Uno in Chicago.
The first pizza ovens are shipped to Canada.
Dan and Frank Carney open the very first Pizza Hut in Wichita, Kansas.
The largest pizza ever made (a pizza weighing 12.9 tons) is displayed at the Norwood Supermarket in South Africa.
The European Union grants “Traditional Specialty Guaranteed” status to Neapolitan style pizza.
It is estimated that on average, Americans eat 350 slices of pizza each second, supporting a $40 billion pizza industry.