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Pizza Origins - The History Of Pizza

Pizza is one of the most popular foods in the world. But who invented pizza? Where did it come from? If you ask someone, you wouldn’t be surprised if they answer Italy. That isn’t wrong. The Pizza gets its roots from Italy. However, its history is much richer than that. This blog post will explore pizza origins, the history of pizza and how it has become so popular. 

pizza origins

Who invented the Pizza?

The modern day pizza is said to have sprung to life in the late 1800’s in Naples, Italy thanks to a baker named Raffaelle Esposito. The origins of pizza, however, date back much further to street vendors in Naples. Pizza history can also be found in ancient Egypt and Rome.

History of Pizza - Where did it originate?

Ancient Babylonians, Israelites and Egyptians ate Flat bread cooked in an oven with toppings.

Between 29 and 19BC, Virgil, an ancient Roman poet wrote about these flatbreads, topped with savouries in his poem Aeneid, ‘thin wheaten cakes as platters for their meal’. Aeneas, a Trojan, fled Troy and travelled to Italy, the home of the modern day pizza.

During the latter parts of the 18th-century, Naples become one of the largest cities in Europe. It grew rapidly with an influx of poor peasants from the country. The economy struggled to keep pace, resulting in many more of the population falling into poverty. 

Overcrowding and outdoor living forced the locals to find quick, cheap and easy ways to feed their families. Pizza, sold by street vendors in boxes quickly became a hit amongst the poor. However, pizza wasn’t considered to be suitable to be eaten by the upper class.

As Pizza was associated with poverty, its reputation suffered for many years frequently being referred to as “disgusting” by foreign visitors. Even around the 19th-century when cookbooks appeared, pizza was deliberately ignored.

Margherita Pizza History

margherita pizaa named after Queen Margherita
Queen Margherita

In 1889 that all changed when King Umberto I and Queen Margherita visited Naples.  Becoming bored with their regular cuisine, they wanted something different. As a result Raffaelle Esposito, a baker in Naples, was summonsed to prepare some local food for the King and Queen. 

Out of three varieties of pizza eaten by the Queen, she fancied one with mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil which was aptly named the ‘Margherita’ in her honour. Thus the Margherita pizza was invented. This created an important shift, as the Queen’s approval transformed the dish from poverty into a national one. From this date onwards pizza becoming a genuine Italian dish.

It wasn’t until Neapolitans crossed the Atlantic that pizza really started to gain popularity. Italians began serving up slices in the United States and pizzerias started to open in major cities. The first documented pizzeria ‘Lombardi’s’ was established in New York City in 1905.

Pizza has been around for centuries and its popularity is ever increasing. Whether you’re a fan of classic pepperoni or like to get a little crazy with toppings, there’s no doubt that pizza is one of the worlds’ favorite foods. Next time you order a pizza, take some time to appreciate all of the history of pizza – from antiquities to Naples to modern-day New York City.

history of pizza

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