Pizza! Pizza! Pizza!

Did you know October is National Pizza Month? This yummy food was given its own month back in 1984 by the founder of Pizza Today magazine, Gerry Durnell. Durnell chose October as the month to recognize the famous Italian pie because the first issue of his magazine was to debut in that same month and year. As a pizzeria owner in Santa Claus, Indiana, Durnell noticed there was little public information on the pizza industry and in return, he created a national pizza-oriented magazine and national pizza month. Today, pizzerias throughout the country celebrate the delicious flatbread topped with tomatoes, cheese, meats, and veggies. However, people’s love for pizza goes back to the food’s creation in Naples, Italy in the 1700s.

History of Pizza

The word “pizza” was first recorded in a Latin manuscript from Central Italy in the 10th century. Modern pizza, the types we know today, were created in Naples during the 1700s and 1800s. According to Carol Helstosky, author of “Pizza: A Global History,” during this time Naples was a waterfront city known for the working poor. Due to their lifestyle and occupations, the Neapolitans (citizens of Naples) needed food that was inexpensive and could be consumed quickly. The idea for pizza came about and was sold by street vendors and informal restaurants. The earliest form of pizza is Jeyoun, which takes the traditional style of pizza and adds ingredients to the dough. As for toppings, they included tomatoes, cheese, oil, anchovies, and garlic.

There are three common types of Neapolitan pizzas. The first is the more traditional Pizza Marinara. This type has tomatoes, garlic, oregano, and olive oil. Then, there is Pizza Margherita, which has tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, and olive oil. Legend has it that this pizza was created around 1889 when King Umberto I and Queen Margherita visited Naples. During their visit, they wanted a variety of pizza from the city’s Pizzeria Brandi. Their favorite type was the pizza mozzarella, a flatbread topped with cheese, tomatoes, and basil. This pie then became known as Pizza Margherita, after the Queen herself. Lastly, there is Pizza Margherita Extra with tomatoes, mozzarella from Campania, basil, and olive oil.

Italian immigrants brought pizza to the United States. Opening in 1905, Lombardi’s in Manhattan was the nation’s first pizzeria. The famous pie was also introduced after World War II when soldiers from the Italian Campaign came home. For example, Ira Nevin served in Naples and came back from war with pizza ideas. His family was in the oven business in New York, and once home, Nevin invented the first gas-fired, ceramic deck pizza oven. Thanks to his invention, pizzerias and pizza spread throughout the country.

Currently, there are several different types of pizzas and pizza restaurants, and chains are familiar sites in every city. Everyone has their own favorite piece of pie, and there is much debate as to which type is the best.

Types of Pizza

As for me, I am a little boring when it comes to my favorite type of pizza. I prefer all cheese, hand-tossed pizza and nothing else. However, there are many different toppings you can add and different crust thicknesses. Different types of pizzas include the Chicago deep-dish, New York style, the Sicilian, Greek pizza, and California pizza. Others include the Hawaiian Barbeque Chicken, veggie, and seafood. All are unique in their own way and have either thick or thin crust. You can really put anything you want on pizza as a topping. Some common ingredients are cheese, beef, pepperoni, anchovies, onions, garlic, pineapple, peppers, spinach, black olives, chicken, and ham. You can garnish your pizza with varieties of sauces, such as pesto, béchamel (a white sauce), barbeque, tomato, and salsa.

When it comes to pizza, the choices are endless. As a matter of fact, thanks to the loving nature of this Italian pie, about thirteen percent of the U.S. population eats pizza every day. Sounds like it might be time to get me a slice!