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July 3, 2022

 

The History of Pizza

Many people, including myself, claim that pizza is one of their favorite foods. While most people believe it is common knowledge that this dish originated in Italy, many may not know the history of how it became so popular in the United States. Pizza has an interesting history full of mysteries that results in its popularization in the United States.

Although most of the history of pizza originates in Naples, Italy, it may not have been the Italians who first made a pizza-like food. During the Neolithic times, civilizations throughout the Mediterranean created their own versions of flatbreads. Also, Naples was originally founded by Greek settlers around 600 BC, and there is evidence that suggests that ancient Greeks brought a flat and round cheese pie to Italy when they colonized the coastal areas. In addition, Nice, France had created pessaladiere which was garnished with carmalized onions, anchovies, garlic, and olives. These examples of foods similar to pizza may have inspired the creation of pizza in Naples.

By 1522, tomatoes were brought to Europe from the New World, but many people did not want to eat them because there were rumors that tomatoes were poisonous. Apparently, “Europeans, new to the tomato, found its texture suspect (to say the least) and thought they looked spoiled when ripened” (TJ’s Take and Bake Pizza). In Naples, the working class had limited ingredients in their homes such as flour, cheese, herbs, lard, and tomatoes. Using these ingredients, they created a simple pizza. The workers needed inexpensive food that they could eat during the day, and as a result, street vendors began selling pizza. Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba was opened in Naples in 1830, and it is considered to be the world’s first pizzeria. It was popular among people who did not have a lot of money. Because pizza was associated with poverty, many foreigners were disgusted by it. This belief was held until it was rumored that the Italian King Umberto and Queen Margherita visited Naples in 1889 and ate pizzas made by Raffaele Esposito of Pizzeria Brandi. Supposedly, they enjoyed the pizzas, and Pizzeria Brandi received a thank you note signed by the head of table of the royal household, Galli Camillo. Historians compared the seal of the letter to other documents written by Camillo and announced that the thank you note was forged. Although Esposito most likely fabricated his story of royalty eating his food, he was able to popularize pizza in Naples.

Pizza was popularized in America when Italians immigrated to cities such as New York, Trenton, New Haven, Boston, Chicago, and St. Louis. “Pizza became as popular as it did in part because of the sheer number of Italian immigrants: they made up 4 million of the 20 million immigrants who came to the U.S. between 1880 and 1920” (Grannan). They began making pizzas in their homes and selling them. Legend has it that Gennaro Lombardi founded the first licensed pizzeria in the United States in 1905. This “fact” is widely believed, but research shows that a man named Filippo Millone emigrated to the United States in the 1890s. He probably started six pizzerias, including the one that Gennaro Lombardi took over. 

Pizza remained popular among mostly immigrants, but after World War II, it became a fast food that was popular among most Americans. “Shortly after its introduction stateside, pizza became more popular in the U.S. than it was in Italy” (Grannan). The U.S. experienced economic and technological advances in the 1950s and onward, and pizza became even more popular. Fridges and freezers became common, so the frozen pizza was invented. Also, cars and motorcycles became more widely available, allowing pizza to be delivered to customers’ homes. Pizza is now a very popular cuisine all over the world.

Works Cited

Grannan , Cydney. “Why Is Pizza So Popular in the U.S.?” Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., www.britannica.com/story/why-is-pizza-so-popular-in-the-us.

“The Real History Of Pizza In America.” TJ’s Take and Bake Pizza, 20 Oct. 2020, tjstakeandbakepizza.com/history-of-pizza-in-america/.


Best Pizza

            While discussing with my 4th hour Expository class, I learned that one of the favorite pizza places of the local area was one I had never heard of: Georgio’s Pizza. Since there was so much hype about it, I went to go check it out for myself. Yet after trying out their pizza, I felt that it was pretty much the same as any of the other regular pizza places and that my own favorite, Cugino’s Italian Restaurant, is a much better choice on many levels – some of them including the pizza bread, the toppings, and the price of the pizzas. If you look at Georgio’s pizza, the bread is thin and has a pleasant crispness to it. But after getting through the pizza, it starts to hit you that the bread is getting very hard to eat. The crust is very dry and hard and it doesn’t have very much taste to it either. The amount toppings on the pizza were pretty average too. Even though the vegetables were well cooked, there weren’t a lot of them on the slices, and there was not a lot of cheese on the already thin pizza. It also had a thin film of grease over it, enough for my sister to be able to dab it off on a napkin. It was like any other pizza, nothing very impressive about it, even though they had some interesting topping choices. The pricing was also a little on the expensive side, but I guess that is due to the fact that they have an interesting thing where they sell pizza by the slice as well as whole pizzas to college students, so they would have to make some sort of revenue if they were to only buy a couple of slices at a time. Cugino’s, on the other hand, was a whole other experience. Their pizza bread was more flavorful and wasn’t as dry or hard. It was very soft and you could bite into it easily. Even though there was a lot more bread in the pizzas at Cugino’s, it didn’t take away from the rest of the pizza at all. It doesn’t overwhelm your mouth with excessive amounts of bread without the toppings. To go on with the toppings, one thing is for sure – Cugino’s doesn’t hold back. They have plenty of vegetables as well as cheese on their pizza, so you get the full experience of a veggie pizza without being disappointed that it was all veggie or no veggie at all. And the cheese was the best part of the pizza. The rich taste of it was amazing, and there was no grease on it at all. It stretched into thick strings as you ate it and was very filling. Prices at Cugino’s were also a bit on the higher end, but I guess that would have to be the case if they are going to use higher quality ingredients. This would also explain why and their ratings on FourSquare is 8.7 to Georgio’s 7.8. My dad has frequently reported back to me that the waiting lines for Cugino’s stretches out of their doors every time they go to the place to eat. Even if the place is farther away than Georgio’s the quality of the pizza is obviously worth the travel for a lot of people.

How else would you guys deem a pizza to be the best in the area? Are these the only criteria to go by?

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