Today pizza is a popular dish and is sold in nearly every town in America. The foundations for Pizza were originally laid by the early Greeks, but originated in the Middle East as a flat bread. Flat bread is a combination of flour, water, and salt cooked in a clay oven. During the eighteenth century, the flat breads called “Pizzas” were sold on the street and markets by vendors on the in Naples, Italy. The food, was an inexpensive, tasty, and readily available, and popular among the peasants. Even though pizza is not associated as being peasant food in modern times, it began as a simple piece of bread popular among the poor. According to Brassfeild who wrote the Origin of Pizza said “Pizza was consumed by the peasant working class because of its convenience and affordable cost”(Brassfeild). Common people were able to get the ingredients and make this inexpensive meal for their families. People who traveled to the poor sections of Naples in the seventeenth century would eat pizza served by peddlers with tin stoves balanced on their heads. (Barrett 14).As pizza popularity increased in Naples, street Vendors sold their pizza to shops where people could order a custom pizza with many different toppings. Once the members of the local aristocracy tried pizza and it gained favor among the citizens of Naples Gayle who wrote A Slice of History: Pizza Through the Ages discusses the transformation of Italian Pizza.(Gayle). The pizza or flatbread with various toppings was known as a food for the common. When King Umberto I and Queen Margherita visited Naples in 1889 they were tired of eating their French food and asked for this local flatbread. In 1889 Rafaele Esposito the owner of Pizzeria Brandi in Naples, created a pizza especially for the Queen that contained the three colors of the new Italian flag, the red of tomato, white of the mozzarella cheese and fresh green basil. The popular pizza Margherita, attributes its name to Italy ‘s Queen Margherita. According to the Italy Magazine Esposito ‘s version of pizza for Queen Margherita made it popular and (Amore)
This became Queen Margherita ‘s favorite pizza and when word got out that this was one of the queen ‘s favorite foods, she became even more popular with the Italian people. She also started a culinary tradition, the Pizza Margherita, which lasts to this very day in Naples began spreading throughout the world. This type of “pizza” was only known by the Naples. Soon after it became normal for common people to eat and sell the flatbread with toppings and garlic and spices. Queen Margherita’s interest in the flatbread topped with a wide variety of ingredients accelerated the popularly among the citizens of Italy. History has not made it clear whether Rafaele began to sell this creation from his own pizzeria, but it is known that the Pizza, was being enjoyed by all the Italian people. The new Neapolitan style pizza had now spread throughout Italy and each region began to customizing their own versions based on the Italian culinary rule of fresh, local ingredients. Variations began to be made in different parts of the country. In Bologna, for example, meat began to be added into the topping mix. Neapolitan Pizza became quite popular and it brought garlic and crumbly Neapolitan cheeses into the mixture as well as herbs, fresh vegetables, and other spices and flavorings.
As Italians immigrated to the larger cites in America like New York, Chicago and Detroit. They brought with them their culture, traditions and skills. Once in America the Italians began opening restaurants called pizzeria. The first pizzeria opened in New York City in 1896 at 53-1/2 Spring Street Pizza In 1905 when Gennaro Lombardi, a baker and pizzeria from Naples was granted the first license in the United States to sell pizza. At this point was very much an ethnic, poor person ‘s food eaten by Italians By the 1930s, the pizza business began to spreading. Italian-Americans opened up pizzerias across Manhattan, New Jersey, and Boston. In 1943, Ike Sewell opened Uno ‘s in Chicago, bringing forth Chicago-style Pizza. As the popularity of pizza began to grow different owners of pizzeria begin making variations of pizza through out the bigger cities. Chicago started the pizza called Chicago style pizza. New York sold the original Neapolitan style pizza and New York style. Philadelphia made a new style called Tomato pie. Everyone loved these styles of pizza as they were selling out in the cities. Beginning in the 1940s, America’s taste for pizza was wanted as World War II servicemen stationed in Italy were returning home with cravings for pizza (a tasty replacement for their overseas rations).
After return of American servicemen to the United States, pizza take- out was available through neighborhood Italian bakeries. A History of Pizza in America by Ed Levine explores the history of how pizza was started in America The mainstreaming of pizza into American life began after World War II, when the Americans that had been stationed in Italy returned home with a desire for the pizza they had discovered overseas (Levine). Unlike the other classic American foods such as hot dogs, meat loaf, ham sandwiches, and hamburgers, pizza was a perfect communal food. In fact, it was meant to be shared. There were no slices in most places, so you needed a group to order and eat a pizza. The group could be coworkers, teammates on a ball team, or a family. The pizza eating custom quickly spread to workers on their lunch hour and families looking for a cheap and satisfying meal out. In the sixties, pizza really hit it big. In particular, the invention of frozen pizza spread the cheesy creation far and wide, even to places without pizzerias.
Soon after pizzerias began sprouting up all over the country. Most were owned by independent chefs, some Italian, some Greek, but all of them were in America Pizza makers in American families to their shops with pleasing and fragrant scents of herbs, garlic, and fresh-baked breads. The tempting, wholesome aromas permeated neighborhood streets and lured Americans to pizzerias by way of their senses. Once enticed to visit the shop, Americans were further romanced by the shopkeepers. They were stationed strategically behind plate glass windows through which they entertained, Americans by their impressive pizza-tossing skills. Families gathered outside to watch in amazement as the, saucer-shaped dough was hurled high into the air, turbulently spinning, landing atop the artisan’s fist, still spinning wildly, and tossed again until perfectly stretched dough was formed, topped with tangy sauce, spices, and cheese and shuttled by paddle into the oven. Pizza had become so popular by the mid-1960s that a major pizza chain opened and began offering home delivery while another major player began selling pizza franchises across America. Early in the 1970s, Television commercials and radio jingles promoting local pizzerias gained popularity throughout the 1970s and 1980s, and by the 1990s, pizza stations were introduced in major department stores. Pizza has become as American as apple pie and might be considered one of the most resourceful foods in America. Apparently, there are no limitations to toppings, dough varieties, and shapes and sizes. Americans enjoy pizza hot and cold, as an appetizer, main dish, and even as a dessert. Pizza is not fancy though it can be. Pizza is casual fare and finger food; no utensils required. Over the course of the centuries pizza is being sold in over seven thousand pizzerias as a inexpensive, tasty, and important food of our culture.