The Ultimate Guide to Pizza

Pizza is one of the most popular snacks in the United States and as well as other parts of the world. It is a dish that is usually made of flattened bread dough spread with a mixture of tomatoes and cheese and often with other toppings before it is baked in the oven. Did you know that in the United States, around 350 slices of pizza are eaten every second and that 40% of Americans eat pizza at least once every week?

One of the reasons behind the popularity of pizza is that humans are attracted to foods that are fatty, sweet, complex, and rich. Pizza has all of these characteristics as it is fatty, its sauce is sweet, and its toppings tend to be rich. In addition to that, pizza also contains glutamate. It is a compound that can be found in cheese, tomato, pepperoni, and sausage. When it hits our tongues, it sends a message to our brains to get enthusiastic and to want more of it. This compound is actually the one responsible for our mouths to water in anticipation of the next bite. 

Aside from that, pizza also has good flavor combinations that most people love. Some examples are cheese and tomato, which both taste good on their own, but taste even better when eaten together. In addition to its rich flavors, pizza also has a rich history and interesting stories. If you’d like to learn more about it, read on as we’re giving you the ultimate guide to pizza. 

Origins of Pizza

pizza with lots of cheese

The history of pizza starts in ancient times when different ancient cultures produced basic flatbreads with several toppings. Its precursor was probably the focaccia, which was a flatbread popular among the Romans as panis focacius. Modern pizza grew from similar flatbread dishes in Naples, Italy, in the 18th or early 19th century. 

The term “pizza” was first documented in 997 A.D. in Gaeta and consecutively in different parts of Central and Southern Italy. Pizza was mostly eaten in Italy and by settlers from there. However, it changed after Word War II when allied troops based in Italy came to enjoy pizza together with other Italian dishes. 

French and Italian archaeologists found bread baked more than 7,000 years ago in Sardinia. Based on Philippe Marinval, this bread was leavened by the local islanders. There were also other foods similar to pizza that have been created since ancient times. There were records throughout the ancient history of people adding other ingredients to bread for it to be more flavorful. Here are some examples:

  • Persian soldiers serving under Darius the Great back in the 6th century BC baked flatbreads with cheese and dates on top of their battle shields.
  • In Ancient Greece, the people made a flatbread called plakous. It was flavored with toppings like onion, cheese, herbs, and garlic. 
  • There was also an early reference to pizza-like food in the Aeneid, which is a Latin epic poem by Virgil. In book VII, Aeneas and his men were served a meal that includes round cakes like pita bread, topped with cooked vegetables. 

Based on some commentators, the origins of modern pizza can be traced to pizzarelle, which were kosher for Passover cookies eaten by Roman Jews after returning from their house of worship on that holiday. 

In the 16th century Naples, a galette flatbread was called pizza, and it was known as a dish for poor people. It was vended on the street and was not accepted as a kitchen recipe for a long time. Later on, this was replaced with bread that has oil and tomatoes or fish. Alexandre Dumas, a French writer, described the diversity of pizza toppings in 1843. 

There was also an often-recounted story that stated that on June 11, 1889, the Neapolitan pizzamaker Raffaele Esposito made the Pizza Margherita to honor the Queen consort of Italy Margherita of Savoy. It was a pizza with mozzarella, tomato, and basil, which represent the national colors of Italy as on its flag. 

Later on, pizza evolved into a type of bread and tomato dish that is usually served with cheese. However, until the early 20th century, pizza was sweet and not savory. There was also a cookbook in the early 20th century that includes three recipes for pizza, and all of them are sweet. Customers left their feedbacks, and with that, the recipe of pizza ala Napoletana was included, which is made of mozzarella, tomatoes, mushrooms, and anchovies. 

There are many more stories out there about the origins of pizza. If you’d like to learn more, here are some links to our articles that tackle the histories of pizza:

The Most Iconic Pizzas of All Time

There are various pizza flavors and styles in different parts of the world, which we’ve talked about in our article, Discover All the Types and Styles of Pizza. Among those types and styles are the most favorite by many people. Trendy pizza flavors may come and go, but few ones are everlasting that they become iconic pizzas. These are the kind of pizzas that you can find at every pizza joint and delivery menu. If you are wondering what these are, here are the most iconic pizzas of all time.

Margherita Pizza

a whole margherita pizza

Margherita pizza can be referred to as the mother of all pizzas. It is a Neapolitan-style pizza that features a thin crust, fresh mozzarella cheese, fresh tomato sauce, and some basil leaves. It may contain simple toppings, but they can outside a few other pizza toppings. 

Pepperoni Pizza

a freshly baked pepperoni pizza

Pepperoni pizza is probably the most popular pizza flavor in the United States. Pepperoni has a salty and slightly spicy taste, which is perfect when combined with the melty and gooey cheese, especially if the crust is crisped in the hot oven. This is why almost no one can resist a hot pepperoni pizza. You can also read our article about The History of Pepperoni to learn more about this pizza topping. 

BBQ Chicken Pizza

BBQ chicken is known to be invented by chef Ed LaDou of California Pizza Kitchen in 1985. His original creation was made with barbecue sauce, chicken, red onions, fontina cheese, and cilantro. This recipe is still available in CPK to this day. This flavor is loved by many due to its combination of sweet and savory taste. You can even recreate it at home by using some leftover chicken. 

Hawaiian Pizza

a whole Hawaiian pizza

A Hawaiian pizza is a combination of tomato sauce, cheese, pineapple, and ham. This flavor is beloved as it is despised. It was reportedly invented in Canada and not in Hawaii. It is also a perfect choice for those who love the sweet and savory combination. 

Meat Lover’s Pizza

The meat lover’s pizza is a type of pizza that holds most toppings on a single pie. It is made of pepperoni, meatballs, mushrooms, and sausage, which makes it a super-savory pizza. For people who are feeling hungry, this type of pizza is a perfect choice. 

If you are looking into learning more about the different types of pizzas out there, the following articles might help you:

Most Popular Fast-Food Pizza Chains

pizza slices

If you are on the lookout for the best fast-food chains for your pizza cravings, we’re here to help you. Here’s a list of the most popular fast-food pizza chains that you can try:

Pizza Hut

In the United States, Pizza Hut is probably the most accessible fast-food pizza with its number of locations. There are more than 17,000 domestic locations of Pizza Hut, which are scattered across all 50 states. This means that you can get a pizza from them wherever you are in the country. In addition to that, Pizza Hut also serves some of the best kinds of pizzas out there. They also offer three crust options, such as pan, hand-tossed, and thin. Their pizzas are also a bit more affordable than other restaurants. You can learn more about this pizza restaurant in our article, History of Pizza Hut.

Domino’s

When it comes to the number of sales, Domino’s will surely top the charts. It was the top-grossing pizza chain in the United States in 2019. Domino’s offers different kinds of pizzas, sandwiches, pasta, wings, salads, and bread. They also offer the pizza drone, which delivers pizza using a drone. In addition to pizzas, they also offer chocolate lava cakes for dessert. If you’d like to learn more about the story of this pizza chain, you can read our post about the History of Domino’s Pizza.

Papa John’s

For pan pizzas, Papa John’s falls a little short of expectations compared to other restaurants. However, they make up for it with their specialty pizzas, especially their meat pizzas. If you do not like meat, you can also choose their meatless specialties that are loaded with veggies. You can read our post about the History of Papa John’s Pizza to learn about how the pizza chain started.

Little Caesar’s

When it comes to super affordable pizzas that you can get in an instant, Little Caesar’s is a perfect choice. Their pizza may be slightly below average, but it has tons of cheese and pepperoni on top. Little Caesar’s is known to be the fastest-growing pizza chain in the United States. You can find out more about this when you read our article about the History of Little Caesar’s Pizza.

CiCi’s Pizza

One of the unique things about Cici’s Pizza is that it offers an all-you-can-eat buffet. This means that you can build your plate the way you want it with a variety of pizzas, bread, pasta, salad, and desserts. One of the best pizzas on their menu is the macaroni and cheese pizza. If you’d like to learn more about this pizza chain, you can read our article about The History of Cici’s Pizza.

California Pizza Kitchen

If you want the best pizza experience, then you should try California Pizza Kitchen. It was the pizza chain that invented the barbecue pizza in 1985. Today, they offer a wide range of pizzas with California-inspired ingredients. In addition to that, they also have pasta, power bowls, and salads. Their wood-fired oven takes the pizzas to a new level. You can learn more about this famous pizza chain in our article about the History of California Pizza Kitchen.

Conclusion

It’s amazing to know that the pizza we enjoy today has been around for thousands of years. And as time pass, there are more and more pizza flavors and styles being introduced in different parts of the world. In fact, pizza is also being used as a flavor for different types of food like bread, biscuits, and more. It is one of the foods that will surely remain popular in the years to come. 

If you are looking for more information about pizza, here are some links to our articles that are all about pizza: