From Fun Facts to Important Dates: A Brief History of Pizza! The World’s Ultimate Comfort Food

Whether you prefer your pizza in Salisbury or have had the pleasure of eating pizza around the world, one thing remains true. Pizza is one of the world’s undisputed comfort food favorites. Let’s face it, it’s hard to go wrong with any combination of cheese and bread, let alone one as simple yet satisfactory as pizza! While most people know that pizza has Italian roots, how much of its history are you truly familiar with? In this blog post, we’ll discuss a brief history of pizza, so that the next time you’re at your local parlor or having an intimate dinner with friends, you can impress them with your knowledge.

Fun Facts About Pizza

Before we dive headfirst into the history of pizza and how it came to find itself on your local pizza menu, let’s begin with some fun facts about everyone’s favorite comfort food. 

1. 350 slices of pizza are eaten each second in the United States: Yep, you read that right. Three hundred slices are eaten per second. That same fact also translates into 21,000 slices eaten per minute! Make no mistake, pizza may have its origins in Italy, but no one enjoys a pie quite like us 

2. Pizza Hut sells more than 2 million pizzas on Super Bowl Sunday: Super Bowl Sunday is a huge event in the United States. Even people who generally don’t watch football will gather with friends to catch the game. Pizza and the Super Bowl is a pairing as famous as peanut butter and jelly, so there’s no surprise that pizza places from national chains to local Salisbury pizza places are busy rolling out pies. With 2 million plus coming from Pizza Hut alone, can you imagine how many pizzas are made across all pizza chains and local establishments combined?

3. Pizza gained popularity in America after World War Two: While the first pizzerias in the United States can be traced as far back as 1905, it wasn’t until WWII that pizza really ascended in popularity in the States. Why did this occur? In this particular war, soldiers were often stationed in Italy, where they grew to love the local fare.

4. 251.7 million pounds of pepperoni are consumed each year in the U.S. from pizza alone. Pepperoni is one of the most popular pizza toppings in existence and a staple on nearly every pizza menu in the United States. Despite pepperoni also being featured in many Italian dishes, over 200 million pounds come from pizza alone according to the National Association of Pizza Operators. Each year we indulge in over 250 million pounds of the meaty topping, making it an undisputed favorite on pizza. 

5. There are 9,000 pizzerias in New York State. While pizza’s origins are firmly Italian, many people associate the food with New York. New York popularized cheap, by-the-slice options that became a staple of the late-night food scene. Even with inflation and rising costs, you can still find several late-night walk-ins that offer a cheap slice. With 9,000 plus pizza places in the state, you’re never far from your next slice.

6. The most popular type of pizza? Meat Lovers! Whether you order your pizza in Salisbury or across the country in Los Angeles, Americans tend to favor one particular type of pie. Meat Lovers! Yep, meat lovers even beat out classic cheese and popular pepperoni according to a study conducted by the Culinary Visions Panel. Their survey indicated that a whopping 76% preferred meat lovers. 

7. And finally, the first known documentation of the word “pizza” is from 997 C.E. Although pizza is now a global phenomenon, it once emerged from humble beginnings. A manuscript in the small Italian town of Gaeta contains the first known document to contain the word “pizza.” This information was relayed by food historian Giuseppe Nocca. 

How Pizza Became a World-Wide Favorite: Mapping its history 

It’s hard to believe that a food originating in Italy would one day become a massive global favorite, especially in the United States of America. But how exactly did modern-day pizza come to be? From Italy to your local place of pizza in Salisbury, here is a brief history of the worldwide sensation mapped out by year. 

997 C.E.- The small Italian town of Gaeta contains a document with the first known usage of the word pizza. While it can be assumed this pizza was a rough prototype of the dish we know today, 

1760: Italy is the birthplace of pizza, particularly the coastal town of Naples. It was actually the tomato that helped jump-start its fame. Yep, with the introduction of the tomato, what we recognize today as pizza, took the streets by storm. 

19th Century:  Pizza started to go west at the turn of century! Despite its origins in Naples (and Italy in general) it started to gain traction in the USA. Soon, the first crop of parlors with their own pizza menu would become popularized. This can largely be attributed to the influx of Italian immigrants who came through Ellis Island, settling in New York and eventually spreading out across the country. 

1905: The first United States pizzeria is born in New York City at a place called Lombardi’s. Here’s another fun fact, Lombardi’s is still open to this day! Yep, you can dine in at Lombardi’s in New York City’s Little Italy neighborhood. Not only was Lombardi’s considered the first pizzeria in the United States, but it is also still credited with creating the N.Y style of pizza, popular across the states. 

Post-World War II: Following WWII, soldiers returned home after being stationed in Europe. Italy was part of the Axis, which would in turn mean American soldiers would be largely stationed there. This period of time would give birth to modern pizza culture in the United States, much of which is reflected in our Salisbury pizza shop! Post WWII some of the largest pizza chains were founded.

1958: Pizza Hut is founded In Wichita, Kansas 

1967: Dominos is founded.

1984: Papa John’s is founded. 

Today: It’s now been over a century since America’s first pizza shop opened in NYC. Since then, each year $38 billion worth of pizzas is sold in the United States, making it a cultural touchstone for Americans all over the country.