When did pizza become popular?



Katrina Nalle, Staff Reporter

The simple combination of dough, sauce and cheese has captivated the world. Pizza is a classic, timeless food that has won over most hearts and taste buds.

The savory dish is adored by many people, but how long has it been loved? The beginning of pizza’s reign started hundreds of years ago, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon.

“There are so many reasons why so many people, including me, love pizza,” junior Abby Nelson said. “It’s iconic.” 

The birth of pizza depends on what the definition of “pizza” actually is. In its original form, it  started out as flatbread with only herbs and oil. Popular in poorer communities in Europe and Asia thousands of years ago, it was cheap and easy to make.

Chef and restaurateur Raeffaele Esposito popularized street food in the late 1800s. His restaurant was visited by Margherita of Savoy, the soon to be queen of Italy, because she wanted to dine like commoners during her Naples visit. She loved it, and his “Margherita” pizza eventually  spread across the world.

Traditional pizza had mozzarella, basil and tomato toppings paying homage to the Italian flag colors. 

“I absolutely love simple, just plain pizza,” Nelson said. “Margherita pizzas are so good, and I wished they were offered at more places.” 

There are hundreds of types of pizza that have been created over the past two hundred years from all parts of the world. Each region has their own popular take, differing from the original Italian pie.  

The pizza craze hit America in 1905 with the opening of Lombardi’s Pizza in New York City – the first licensed pizzeria. 

It wasn’t until World War II  that pizza became popular with non-Italians in America. Soldiers previously stationed in Italy were able to bring the recipes and appetites back with them.

Pizza made it from New York to California by the thirties, with the San Francisco pizzeria, Tommaso’s, opening in 1934, according to their website. Wood fire and brick oven pizza had made it to the West Coast.

“It feels fancy and tastes really good,” senior Joey Bonasera said.

American pizza has strayed far from the original with thicker crusts and more cheese. Chicago and New York offer the two most popular kinds of pizza: deep dish from Chicago and thin crust from New York. The long-lived debate of which one is best rages on.

Out of 103 North students, 52.4 percent prefer thin crust, and 47.6 percent prefer deep dish.

In the 1960s pizza production moved out of the small mom and pop type restaurants and into strip mall restaurant chains such as Domino’s, Pizza Hut and Little Caesars.

“Whenever I have to pick out somewhere to go eat, pizza usually comes up,” junior K.C. Wawrzynek said. “I usually go to Little Caesars or some cheaper place like that. They’re pretty underrated.” 

No matter the person, people are set on their pizza preferences. Whether it’s the origin of it, or its toppings, people love their pizza.

“I think people are easily able to find something they like or love and stick with it,”  junior Cassidy Stephenson said. “Pizza is a staple food and so many people love it.”