History Of Pizza
The history of pizza is very interesting. Various combinations of cheese and flat bread [baked and fried] were commonly eaten by ancient peoples. The tomato is a new world food and was first introduced to Europe by returning Spanish and Portuguese explorers in the 16th century. By the 17th century, tomatoes and their byproducts (sauces, soups) were staple ingredients of many classic southern European recipes. We will probably never know the name of the first person to combine and serve tomatoes, cheese and flat bread. Pizza as we know it today is usually attributed to Raffaele Esposito, who is credited for combining pizza crust with tomato sauce, mozzerella cheese and basil in 1889 to honor Queen Margherita [1851-1926]. About tomato sauce.
"...there is no earlier evidence than third century Macedonia for the use of a flat loaf of bread as a plate for meat, a function which bread continued to perform in the pide of Turkey, the pita of Greece and Bulgaria, the pizza of southern Italy and the trencher of medieval Europe. Although meat and other relishes were seen earlier in Greece as accompaniments to cereal, the cereal had taken other forms."
---Siren Feasts: A History of Food and Gastronomy in Greece, Andrew Dalby [Routledge:London] 1996 (p. 157)
"It has been argued that the Italians did not "invent" pizza. Perhaps this is technically true, but there can be no denying that Italy was most certainly the seedbed out of which the concept would flourish to the fullest. In one form or another, pizza has been a basic part of the Italian diet since the Stone Age, and Italians have devised more ways of interpreting the dish than anyone else...Italian pizza evolved from the basic concepts initiated by two different cultures: the Etrucans in the north and the Greeks in the south...The earliest pizza prototypes originated when Neolithic tribes first gathered wild grains, made them into a crude batter, and cooked them on the hot stones of their campfires...Italians may have made pizza famous, but they certainly did not invent the concept of the dish...the Greeks, who occupied the southernmost regions of Italy for over 600 years (from about 730B.C. to 130 B.C.), were the greatest bakers of ancient times...Flat, round breads were baked with an assortment of "relishes" (in ancient Greek, a relish meant anything spread or baked on bread), such as oils, onions, garlic, herbs, olives, vegetables, and cheese, on tip. A rim of crust was left around the bread to serve as a kind of handle..."
---The Pizza Book: Everything There is to Know About the World's Greatest Pie, Evelyn Slomon [Times Books:New York] 1984 (p. 3)
NOTE this book has much more information on the the history of pizza...ask your librarian to help you find a copy or obtain reprints of pages 3-13.
"A pizza consists mainly of a flat disc of bread. This is normally the base for various toppings, and it is safe to assume that since early classical times people in the general region of the Mediterranean were at least sometimes putting a topping on their flat breads [ie foccacia]...the word pizza itself was used as early as the year 997 AD in Gaeta, a port between Naples and Rome...Abruzzi had something called pizza in the twelfth century. Calabria made pitta or petta, Apulia pizzella or pizzetta, Sicily sfincione. Tuscany's schiacciata...was first roasted on stones by the ancestral Etruscans...The napoletana, i.e. pizza of Naples, can indeed be seen, and has been so far seen for over a century, as the archtype of modern pizzas..."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 611)
Why do we call it "pizza?"
"The origins of its name are not altogether clear. Its extreme similarity to the Provencal pissaladiere, a dough base covered generally with onions, olives, and anchovies, would make it tempting to assume that Italian somehow acquired the word from French, were it not for the fact that Italian pizza actually denotes a far wider range of items than what English-speakers would recognize as pizza. Essentially it means 'pie', and this can cover for example a cloased fruit pie as well as the open pizza. The usual course suggested for it is Vulgar Latin *picea, a dervative of Latin pix, 'pitch' (in which case it would be an amost directly parallel formation with English pikelet), but it could also be related to Greek pitta."
---An A-Z of Food & Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2002 (p. 259)
"The term pizza is clouded in some ambiguity, though it may derive from an Old Italian word meaning a point, which in turn led to the Italian word pizzicare, to pinch or pluck. The word shows up for the first time in print as a Neapolitan dialect word--piza or picea--about 1000 A.D., possibly referring to the manner in which something is plucked from a hot oven...While many Mediterranean cultures and regions of Italy have long had their versions of flatbreads...the baked flatbread most people now think of as pizza originated in Naples, and was a favorite snack of occupying Spanish soldiers at the Taverna Cerriglio in the 17th century. The soft, baked crispy dough that the Neapolitans called sfiziosa would be folded over into a libretto (little book) and consumed in the hand. It was baked by men called pizzaioli, who worked in small shops called laboratori. By the middle of the 19th century the word pizza had become common parlance for the food item..."
---Dictionary of Italian Food and Drink, John Mariani [Broadway Books:New York] 1998 (p. 196-199)
NOTE this book also has much more information on the the history of pizza.
Pizza alla Margherita?
"...on June 11, 1889, an official of the Royal Palace asked a local pazaiolo named Raffaele Esposito to create a special pizza for the visit of King Umberto I's consort, Queen Margherita, to Capodimonte. Esposito created three examples, but the one most favored by the Queen was made with ingredients in the three colors (tricolore) of the Italian flag--red (tomato), white (mozzarella) and green (basil) atop the pizza dough. Esposito quickly named the newly fashionable pizza after the queen, and thus was born the pizza alla Margherita and that was to become the classic Neapolitan pizza, recognized as such by the Associazone Vera Pizza Napoletana (The True Neapolitan Pizza Association)..."
---The Dictionary of Italian Food and Drink, John Mariani [Broadway Books:New York] 1998 (p. 197)
Pizza in America:
Pizza was imported to the United States by Italian immigrants. For many years, pizza was mostly available in cities with large Neapolitan populations [New York, Boston, New Haven, Philadelphia, Baltimore etc.]. It wasn't until American soldiers returned from WWII that pizza became a national phenomenon.
"Pizza came to America at the end of the nineteenth century with immigrants from southern Italy. Italian immigrants built commercial bakeries and backyard ovens to produce bread they had eaten in Italy. In addition, Italian bakers used their ovens for flatbreads: northern Italians baked focaccia, while southern Italians made pizza. Initially, pizza was made by Italians for Italians, but thy the late 1930s after the Great Depression many Americans were eating pizza in Italian restaurants and pizzerias on the East and West Coasts...Over time, two basic and distinct styles of American pizza appeared. A thin-crust pizza, commonly called "East Coast" or "New York" style, is made with just a few toppings like pizza made in Naples...The crust of thick- or double-crust pizza, also called "West Coast" style, serves as a foundation for a larger number of toppings...There are several uniquely American pizzas. Deep dish, or "Chicago style," pizza originated at Pizzeria Uno...in 1943...California or "gourmet" pizza originated in 1980 at Chez Panisse, a restaurant in Berkeley, California."
---Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith [Oxford University Press:New York] 2004, Volume 2 (p. 286)
"One of the first pizza sold in the United States was baked some fifty years ago by a 13-year-old pizzaiuolo named Gennaro Lombardi at 53 1/2 Spring Street in Little Italy section of New York...Pizza may never replace hot dogs as the great American "bite," but their amazing acceptance in recent years prompts a question: Why pizza and not, say, Mexican enchiladas? The guess is that a growing number of Americans of Italian origin aided by advertising and refrigeration, have made pizza as delectable as such other postwar imports as Lollobrigida. The entertainment weekly Variety, going gastronomic the other Wednesday, reported that the "extent to which the pizza pies are replacing hot dogs at drive-ins was demonstrated at the concession trade show at Allied States ***'n convention which featured more pizza-making machines than frankfurter heaters." At the Texas State Fair, largest exhibition of its kind, pizza evoked great interest on the midway. More inquiries were made about pizza than any other food with the exception of the "corny dog," the dressed-up hot dog on a stick... ...A Neapolitan pizzaiuolo might be startled by pizza in the United States...At a "pizza bar" in a large Manhattan department store--where thousands are absorbed weekly by hungry shoppers--three kinds are for sale: plain pizza (a pie); pizzaret (a muffin), and a best-seller called the pizza-bagel, created, after some protest, by a turncoat pizzaiuolo from Florida...There are fresh pizza, warm-over pizza, refrigerated pizza, warm-over pizza and frozen pizza, selling everywhere from sidearm joints to pizza palaces. (Though "pizza" means pie or pies, some Americans insist on saying "pizza pies.")...Gennaro Lombardi seemed to be the man to turn to. Nobody has disputed his claim to having the oldest pizzeria in the United States....Gennaro said, "They all came here to eat my pizza, all the opera stars, Scotti, Tetrazzini, Caruso..."
---"Pizza a la Mode," Herbert Mitgang, The New York Times, February 12, 1956 (p. SM 133)
How much did the first pizzas cost?
Early pizza prices are extremely difficult to research. These eateries did not (have to) advertise to draw business. Nor were they *worthy* of recognition by mainstream newspapers or menu collectors. Our research indicates the first pizzas may have cost 5 cents:
"Nov. 10, 2005, marks our 100th anniversary. I'm selling everything for 5 cents," says Brescio [manager of Lombardi's]. "That's what it cost back in 1905. Now that's history."
---"Ten History Courses: There are some interesting stories behind NYC restaurant names--just ask Jimmy," Sunny Lee, Daily News [New York], February 16, 2003 (p. 17)
[NOTE: there is no reference to product size sold in 1905 vs. today. Hamburgers and hot dogs were also sold for a nickel at this time.]
"The first American cookbook recipe for pizza appeared in Specialita Culinarie Italiane, 137 Tested Recipes of Famous Italian Foods, a fund-raising cookbook published in Boston in 1936. That recipe, for Neapolitan pie or Pizza alla Napolitana, directed that pizza dough be hand-stretched until it was one-quarter-inch-thick. The dough was topped with salt and pepper, Scamozza (Scamorza) cheese, tomatoes, grated parmesan cheese, and olive oil in that order. There were no ingredients for the pizza dough itself; instead, the reader was told that the dough "can be purchased in any Italian bake shop.""
---Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith editor [Oxford University Press:New York] 2004, Volume 2 (p. 286)
"While not yet a bona fide fast food, pizza was soon giving the fast foods run for the consumer's money. By the mid-1950s, thanks to the popularity of spaghetti and tomato sauce, a taste for a white farinaceous base slathered in thick and salty tomato sauce had become an integral part of the American palate. The country was therefore well primed for the invation of pizza....In the 1950s...pizza suddenly burst onto center stage. In part this was because it fit so well in the culture of the times. It was regarded as an ideal family food, equally acceptable to all ages and both sexes. Its taste hardly departed from the tried and true, yet its form could be readily accomodated to the era's newer, more casual way of eating: children's parties and snacking in front of the television set. The informal, communal way it was eaten in restaurants made it particualrly popular with teenagers, and by the mid-1950s boisterous "pizza parlors" dotted the main streets of Italian neighborhoods, their oversized booths for six or eight crammed with voracious young eaters, while others lounged by the entrance waiting for take-home orders...Pizza also became the hottest restaurant item of the 1950s because, unlike most pastas, it was not particularly affected by delays between cooking and eating. This made it ideal for the two main growth sectors in the television-battered restaurant industry, drive-ins and take home places. By 1956 it had shunted aside hot dogs as the most popular item in both. By the late 1960s, American were consuming two billion pizzas annually."
---Paradox of Plenty: A Social History of Eating in Modern America, Harvey Levenstein [University of Californa Press:Berkeley] 2003 (p. 229-30)
More on American pizza:
New York style pizza
According to the food historians the introduction of pizza to New York City is attributed to Gennaro Lombardi when he opened up his pizzeria at 53 1/2 Spring Street in 1905.
"Legend has it that Neapolitan pizzailo Raffaele Esposito of the Pizzeria de Pietro was the first to make a pie with tomato, basil, and mozzarella pizza (the colors of the Italian flag) to honor the visit of Queen Margherita, consort of King Umberto I, to Naples in 1889. This thereafter was called pizza alla margherita and became very popular in that city.
But the pizza remained a local delicacy until the concept crossed the Atlantic in the memories of immigrants from Naples who settled in the cities along the Eastern Seaboard, especially in New York City. The ingredients these immigrants found in their new country differed from those in the old: In New York there was no buffalo-milk mozzarella, so cows's milk mozzarella was used; oregeno, a staple southern Italian herb, was replaced in America by sweet marjoram; and American tomatoes, flour, even water, were different. Here pizza evolved into a large, sheet-like pie, perhaps eighteen inches or more in diameter, reflecting the abundance of the new country....The first record of a pizzeria in New York was Gennaro Lombardi's, opened in 1905 on Spring Street, but others quickly followed in the Italian communities around the city. Still, pizza and pizzerias and, later, pizza parlors' were little known outside the large cities of the East until after World War II, when returning American GI's brought back a taste for the pizzas they had had in Naples along with the assumptions that pizza, like spaghetti and meatballs, was a typical Italian dish, instead of a regional one."
---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 244)
"The city's selection of restaurants was enriched by the arrival of immigrants during the late nineteenth century. The food served in the first Italian restaurants in the city was adapted from recipes of Naples and Sicily, the home of many Italian immigrants. Pizza was a Neapolitan food uncommon in most of Italy but popular in New York City after G. Lombardi opened a pizzeria on Spring Street in 1905."
---The Encyclopedia of New York City, Kenneth T. Jackson editor [Yale University Press:New Haven] 1995 (p. 1000)
"New York pizza did not exist before 1905, when Gennaro Lombardi, a Neapolitan immigrant, began to sell pies in his grocery store in Little Italy. Lombardi's was by most accounts the first New York pizzeria, and Mr. Lombardi, who hired and trained a series of other immigrants, became the sturdy tap root of a tree of family and acquaintances that would go on to define great New York pizza."
---New York Pizza, the Real Thing, Makes a Comeback, The New York Times, June 10, 1998, Section F; Page 1; Column 2 (this article includes a list of notable historic pizzarias including Totonno's in Coney Island and Grimaldi's in Brooklyn.
Other articles of interest (your librarian can help you get copies):
"The Top Pizzas In New York: Bred and Baked By Tradition ," The New York Times, June 16, 1995, Section C; Page 1; Column 1
"Pizza a la Mode," The New York Times, Feb. 12 1956 VI 64:3 (profile of Gennaro Lombardi)
"The pizza with an attitude," Travel Holiday, Jun97, Vol. 180 Issue 5, p44, 4p, 7c
"Bravo! Original New York pizzeria still serves up the best," Sacramento Bee, January 7, 2001, pg. E1
Chicago-style (deep dish) pizza
Food historians generally credit Ike Sewell and Ric Riccardo for the "invention" of Chicago's deep-dish style pizza. The year? 1943. The restaurant? Pizzeria Uno. Uno's "legend"
Of course, few foods are truly invented. Pizza was certainly known to Chicago for several decades before the Sewell's opened shop. Most are creative iterations of existing dishes. There is some speculation, based on the fact that Chicago-style pizza is thickly-topped and sometimes served in square pans, that the recipe was influenced by Sicilian cuisine. Did you know recipes for tomato pie, both open tarts and double-crust (what we now call "stuffed pizza"), were also known to American cooks in the early 19th century?
"The pizza...first made its appearance in Chicago around 1912. It was introduced by a man who went around with a pizza filled basket on his head...At that time there was some doubt whether these pizzas were to be used as shingles or munched."
---"Cold War Looms: Pizza Pie Vs. Hot Dog," Thomas Morrow, Chicago Daily Tribune, August 3, 1954 (p. 18)
The Windy City's first pizzeria opened at 907 Taylor St. in 1924:
"The only place in Chicago where you can buy Italian pizza is at a little restaurant on Taylor street near Halsted. There you can wath Tom Granato, for sixteen years the proprietor of Chicago's only pizzeria, concoct the delicacy and carefully deposit it in his big brick oven slipping it off long handled shovels of well sandpapered wood onto the hot bricks. The foundation of pizza is a dough similar to that in English muffins. To rolls out a piece the size of a pie crust on his marble slab, cuts up fresh Italian cheese over it, covers it with tomato--the little Italian pear tomato--sprinkles olive oil over it, and deposits it in the brick oven for a few minutes. It is served in a tin pie plate, cut into four sections, and eaten with the fingers. Try it with a salad. Young Blackie, waiter at Tom's Pizzeria Napolitana, who tells you how Tom and his wife, Molly, took him off the street ten years ago, made known the other specialties of the place--stuffed macaroni, eggplant parmigiano, and cannoli, an Italian dessert, with sweet, cold Italian cottage cheese served in a fold of ice cream cone like pastry."
---"Front Views and Profiles," June Provines, Chicago Daily Tribune, October 17, 1939 (p. 17)
The second pizzeria opened (according the general concensus of local food experts), opened on the southwest corner of Onio Street and Wabash Avenue in 1943:
""When Riccardo opened the Uno, there was only one other place to buy pizza in Chicago and that was on Taylor street," [Ike] Sewell said."
---"Story of 2 Pizzerias and 1.5 Million Pizzas," Chicago Tribune, July 31, 1964 (p. C6)
"In 1943 Ike Sewell, a liquor-company executive and former All-American guard from Wills Point, Tex., and Ric Riccardo Sr., an artist, seaman, apache dancer, and tavernkeeper born in Biella, Italy, decided to team up and open a Mexican restaurant in Chicago. A site was leased, and Riccardo began painting bullfights and cockfights on the walls. Sewell was a lover of and an expert on Mexican cuisine. Riccardo knew nothing about it, and there was no decent place in Chicago (according to Sewell) to taste it. One of Riccardo's bartenders, a chap named Raoul, offered to cook up a fine Mexican meal. Riccardo ate what Raoul had wrought and got violently ill. He painted out the cockfights and bullfights and left to vacation in Italy. Riccardo returned having stumbled upon a better idea--pizza. Sewell was the one in the dark this time. He had never tasted tht stuff, never even heard of it, but agreed with Riccardo that it should serve as a meal not just an appetizer as it was in Italy. They came up with a balance of cheese and sausage and spices and decreed that it should be used in abundance. They experimented with pans of various sizes and shapes and came up with the "pizza-in-a-pan" (some call it "deep dish") method of cooking that yielded a crust neither Neopolitan nor Sicilian but something else, something brand new. And no one cared. "At first," Sewell said, "we had to cut it into little slivers and give it away to people who were drinking at the bar." Now, 33 years later, Uno, together with its nearby sister, Pizzeria Due, seres 2,500 pizzas on a big day...What Sewell and Ruccardon began has been imitated, perhaps improved upon...and occasionally ripped off."
---"Ike and Ric: They were the first with the thickest," Chicago Tribune, August 1, 1976 (p. G16)
"Mrs. Sewell, 95, whose husband, Ike, gained fame as the co-inventor of deep dish pizza, died early Sunday morning at her Chicago home. Ike Sewell, along with partner Ric Riccardo Sr., is credited with inventing deep dish pizza in 1943, but Mrs. Sewell also helped concoct the pizza that put Chicago on the map, according to Chicago Blackhawks owner Bill Wirtz, a family friend. "If Ike was the godfather of deep dish pizza, she was the godmother," Wirtz said. Mrs. Sewell married Ike, a liquor company executive, in 1939, and in the 1940s and '50s helped him with recipes and decor for his Pizzeria Uno, Pizzeria Due and Su Casa restaurants."
---"Florence Sewell, 95, Chicago philanthropist," Art Golab, Chicago Sun-Times, April 10, 2000 (p. 56)
"What is this pizza called Chicago deep-dish, and what makes it so different from other pizzas? In the truest sense, deep-dish pizza (pizza-in-the-pan is the alternate nom de pizza) is a first-generation descendant of what Italian-Americans commonly referred to as "tomato pie." A sideline of Italian bakeries at the turn of the century, a tomato pie was baked in a large rectangular pan with 1-inch-high sides. It had a crust two fingers thick and a generous layer of seasoned tomato puree that was dusted with grated Romano cheese just before it went into the oven...Chicago-style deep-dish pizza came into being in 1943 when two savvy entrepreneurs, Ike Sewell and Ric Riccardo, opened Pizzeria Uno on the corner of Wabash and Ohio. It was a time when a restaurant serving only pizza was unheard of. The story goes that it took six months of experimentation to produce that "cheese, tomato, and meat pie" called deep-dish pizza. It was so thick that it required the use of a knife and fork -- which brought down another wall of pizza tradition: Pizza had always been something that you ate with your hands. Utensils to eat pizza? Incredible."
French pizza? Oui!
Many people assume pizza originated in Italy. Certainly there is ample evidence. On the other hand? Food does not respected man-made political boundaries. Countries sharing common borders often share similar dishes, ingredients, and flavors. Pizza-type foods are popular throughout the Mediterranean region. Yes, there is French pizza. It flourishes in the balmy southeast region of the country. The ingredients are quite similar to those of neighboring Italy. Why? These foods were common to the area.
"Pissaladiere. A specialty of the Nice region, consisting of a flan filled with onions and garnished with anchovy fillets and black olives. It is traditionally coated with a condiment pissalat before being cooked, hence the name. A good pissaladiere should have a layer of onions half as thick as the base if bread dough is used; if flan is made with shortcrust pastry (basic pie dough), the layer of onions should be as thick as the flan pastry. It can be eaten hot or cold...Pissalat. Also known as pissala. A condiment originating from the Nice Region, made of anchovy puree flavored with cloves, thyme, bay leaf and pepper and mixed with olive oil. Originally pissalat was made from the fry of sardines and anchovies, but because this is not readily available outside the Mediterranean area, anchovies in brine may be used instead."
---Larousse Gastronomique, completely revised and updated [Clarkson Potter:New York] 2001 (p. 899)
"A pissaladiere is in effect a Provencal version of the pizza. It consists of a base of bread dough (or sometimesf fried slices of bread) with a savoury topping. Nowadays this is usually onions stewed in olive oil, or a mixture of tomatoes and anchovies, or a puree of anchovies and garlic...all threee decorated with black olives, but originally it would have been a mixture of tiny fish, typically fry of sardines, anchovies, etc., preserved in brine. This was known as pissala (presumably a derivative of Latin piscis, fish'), and gaveits name to the pissaladiere. (Despite the striking similarity, there does not appear to be any direct etymologial link wiht Itlaian pizza.)"
---An A to Z of Food and Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2002 (p. 258)
"Though the French influence is everywhere in this country, a few foods that are common in France have managed to escape our dragnet. The French pizza is one example. Yes, pizza. Although it is most often known as a pissaladiere, it is what it is: a round, flat bread, crisp on the bottom, simply garnished on top, rustic and yet urbane. Travel through the regions of France with your eyes open for anything that looks like pizza, and you'll come back impressed not only by how plentiful these pizzas are but also by their variety. Some, like the galette de Perouges, are sweet rather than savory. And many of them are served at room temperature. In fact, the pizzas of France and Italy, despite having different tendencies in herbs and cheese, have more in common with each other than they do with most of those produced here...The Provencal version of the pissaladiere is often garnished with two of the region's signature ingredients: black olives and sliced tomatoes, both in minuscule amounts by our standard. It is usually served at room temperature as often as not because in Provence, and throughout France, pizza is snack bread. Because it lacks gobs of cheese congealing on top, it retains its appeal even when cool. It is so simple--mostly just sweet onions on a wonderful crust. And yet it was so much more.If pissaladiere is the most familiar of the French pizzas, galette de Perouges is the most surprising. This is the best-known product of Perouges, a well-preserved and perfectly restored medieval village not far from Lyons. Although galette is a word used for many free-form tarts in France, this particular galette seems more familiar than most: a large, round pie, slid into an oven on a paddle and cut into crisp wedges. On closer inspection, however, and especially on tasting, this is no common variation on pizza. The crust is rich and sweet--a yeasted dough made with butter and sugar, and rolled nearly flat. And the topping is butter and sugar; no more. The galette is baked in a hot oven until the sugar caramelizes and the crust becomes brittle; unlike most pizzas, this dough is not chewy but crunchy. The tarte flambee of Alsace may be the world's northernmost indigenous and legitimate pizza. You see it everywhere, although it is most common in the north, around Strasbourg. Alsace is French, of course, but the food, language and appearance are quite German in character. In this regional crossroads, there are many variations, based largely on the background of the baker. Tarte flambee is a bit puffier and less flat than most pizza. Although it is usually spread with fromage blanc, bacon and onion before baking, there are many variations. There is a peculiar convention in tarte flambee: Each wedge is rolled from the wide crust end to its point, and the rolls are eaten end to end. Because French pizzas are so difficult to find outside France--and are among the easiest of all pizzas to make--it makes sense to try them at home."
---"VIVE LA PIZZA AN ITALIAN CLASSIC GETS A FRENCH MAKEOVER," Mark Bittman, New York Times, Sept. 23, 1998 (p. F1)
First pizza delivery?
Legend likes to claim the first pizza delivery took place in Italy, 1889:
"The first pizza delivery was in 1889, by Raffaele Esposito owner of the famous pizzeria Pietro il Pizzaiolo in Naples. The recipients were visiting King Umberto I and Queen Margherita. Refusing to go to the likes of a pizzeria, the queen ordered in."
---"PIZZA: SOME TOPPING FACTS, "Press Association November 11, 2002
Our survey of articles published in the New York Times (ProQuest database) uncovered an advertisement for this franchise opportunity "Fresh Pizza Trucks, "The Pizzeria on Wheels" (NYT, June 5, 1960, p. F26). Another article from 1971, describing the meeting of the North American Pizza Association, clearly indicates home pizza delivery was a long established and popular activity. Then, as today, the industry was plagued with bad drivers having accidents while on company time:
"During a discussion on pizza delivery, one man asked his fellow pizzamakers what he could do about his high accident rate. He said that his delivery men had wrecked six cars in the last six years and that his insurance had been cancelled. "How about a rubber car?" one man jokingly suggested from the rear."
---"When Else Would Call Hamburgers the Enemy?," Judy Klemesruds, New York Times, March 31, 1971 (p. 38)
The earliest print reference we find to manufactured frozen pizza (in the USA) is patent 2,688,117, "Method for Making Frozen Pizza," filed by Jo Bucci, Philadelphia PA, August 10, 1950. We also find evidence of refrigerated pizza products penetrating grocery stores. It was just a matter of time before frozen pizzas were competing with TV Dinners for space on the consumer's ubiquitous living room feeding tray.
"...Leo Giuffre has introduced his ready-to-cook pizzas in... the last two weeks. Already the cheese and tomato-topped "pies," which made their debut in Bean Town three months ago, are available for 49 cents each in a few stores here, including Kaboolian's Market, 389 Avenue of the Americas, and Philip's Quality Market, 80-28 Thirty-seventh Avenue, Jackson Heights, Queens. The pizzas, which are kept under refrigeration but not frozen, are ready to pop into the oven...One pizza (about nine inches in diameter) yields two generous servings, ot three for not quite such ambitious appetites...Though Mr. Giuffre's Roma Pizza Company, Inc. has been operating in Long Island City for only a little more than ten days, it is already turning out 3,000 of the delectable pastries daily."
---"News of Food: Pizzas Now Offered Here Ready-to-Cook," New York Times, June 28, 1950 (p. 34)
"With almost every jobbing musician in the local working at another trade or business druing the day, it remained for Emil De Salvi, band man about town, to finally shelve his music vocation when his odd-hour avocation paid off highter than the union scale. De Salvi has perfected a frozen pizza pie, six fanciful fillings, for the television viewing home trade."
---Tower Ticker," Savage, Chicago Daily Tribune, February 7, 1953 (p. 23)
"Giuseppi's Frozen Pizza Pie, Philadelphia."
---"Advertising News & Notes," New York Times, December 7, 1951 (p. 50)
"Del Buono Frozen Pizza, Camden NJ."
---"Advertising News," New York Times, December 19, 1951 (p. 56)
"Pizza, not undergoing a curious gustatory vogue, is a hot freezing item in New York and Chicago with at least a half dozen local concerns in action. E. De Salvi, president of Pizza-Pro Corp. of Chicago, who claims to do 95% of the frozen pizza business in the Windy City, is now trying to line up distributors in St. Louis, Nashville, Rockford, Indianapolis and surrounding points. But the competition is tough. In St. Louis, Mr. De Salvi found a local tavern owner who was freezing the Italian specialty during slack times at the bar."
---"Frozen Foods: Nation Eats Mountain Tonnage of Them as Competition Cuts Prices," Wall Street Journal, March 5, 1953 (p. 1)
"Another of the week's 652 patents was granted to Joseph Bucci of Philadelphia for a method of making in frozen form that popular delicacy, pizza, sometimes called tomato pie. He says the method applies also to other edibles that combine layers of dough with liquid or moist filing, such as upside-down cakes, puddings and dumplings. After he shapes the pizza shell out of dough, Mr. Bucci spreads on a "sealing agent" such as tomato puree, and bakes it. The sauce is cooked separately, cooled and placed on the shell. Optional items such as cheese trips are added and the whole is then frozen. The patent number is 2,688,117."
---"Walking Truck-Boat Just Puts one Pontoon Before the Other: Frozen Pizza...," Stacy V. Jones, New York Times, Feburary 6, 1954 (p. 23)
"Feast on frozen foods from famous houses...Like "Little Bo-Pizzas," delightful miniature hors d'oeuvres pizzas from the Petite Food Corporation."
---"Live to Eat in Macy's Food Festival," New York Times, April 22, 1954 (p. 7)
"Petite Foods Corporation, Brooklyn...its line of frozen food specialties, one of which rejoices in an unlikely name, of Little Bo-Pizzas, a miniature frozen pizza product."
---"New Business," New York Times, October 7, 1954 (p. 35)
"Frozen pizza is available in many groceries, ready to eat after heating in the kitchen oven."
---"Pizza Pies Hit Big Time in America," James D. Schacter, Washington Post, March 9, 1954 (p. 25)
"A war cloud, no bigger than a press agent's mind, is hanging over Chicago, if you are going to believe Folger S. Decker, a man of his word--thousands of them, in fact. This is to be a gustatory grapple, Mr. Decker said, with the pizza pie on the one side, and the hot dog, weiner or tepid puppy, on the other. He said is would be cold war, of course, as many of these pizza pies are frozen. ..."Do you realize," continued Mr. Decker, "that the pizza has made terrific infroads on the hot dog market? During the last two years alone, Mr. Emil De Salvi, who purveys frozen pizzas, has blanketed the country with 5 million pizza pies.""
---"Cold War Looms: Pizza Pie Vs. Hot Dog," Thomas Morrow, Chicago Daily Tribune, August 3, 1954 (p. 18)
"It's new--A new frozen food product, Little Bo-Pizzas are the first miniature pizzas to make their apperance. Tasty rounds of a special dough blended with imported type aged cheese, spices, olives and tomatoes, Little Bo-Pizzas are ideal for a party canape tray. Also nice served with salads or cold cuts for luncheon; and ideal for bridge or canasta nibblers. Just pop them in the oven until crisply touched with brown--about 8 minutes, serve."
---"It's New," Washington Post and Times Herald, February 18, 1955 (p. 67)
"Frozen pizza crust ready for you to top with anything that pelases the whimsey or taste of your family, is the newest twist in the pizza craze. Holton's Pizza Crusts are partly cooked, ready to brown and serve. The bottom of each crust is pierced with holes to allow the heat to penetrate and crisp the batter. You can top it with anything from sausage to ice cream. It is frozen, but if it is partly thawed when it reaches your kitcen it can be refrozen safely, acording to the manufacturer. Each package contains three individual portions."
---"'Round the Food Stores: for a look at the latest ideas," Lois Baker, Chicago Daily Tribune, July 12, 1957 (p. B17)
"For a teenage get-together or a family supper, you can't go wrong when you serve Miniature Pizzas. With one recipe you get 30 pizzas--to bake and serve or store in the freezer for a spur-of-the-moment gathering. They're easy to make with refrigerated biscuits, a seasoned tomato sauce and grated cheese. Topped with anything you choose to mix, match or even scramble, these make-ahead finger foods are fun. Heap them on a serving tray, hot from the oven, and watch them disappear."
---"They're Frozen Assets," Washington Post, July 21, 1966 (p. D3)
"One of the best sellers it the Grotto is a $.75 snack--the famous Pizza Tichinese, somewhat similar to the pizzas of southern Italy. You can make an excellent facsimile back home using a frozen pizza for a base. "Pizza Ticininese, U.S.A. For each person provide 1 individual-size frozen pizza..."
---"The Fast Gourmet," Poppy Cannon, Chicago Daily Defender, June 1, 1967 (p. 24)
"If your taste runs to pizza, we have some good news and some bad news. As snack foods go, frozen pizza is remarkably nutritious. But judges by CU's test of 41 products, it isn't apt to be very good. We were disappointed by the crusts, taste or high bacteria counts on all but four brands, and we could rate those bands only Fair. Our tests centered on the four most popular pizza styles. We evaluate 17 brands of cheese pizza, 14 of sausage, seven of pepperoni and three topped with hamburger. By way of comparison, we also bought and tested at least one sample of fresh pizza in each of those four styles. On average, our frozen pizzas contained a bit more dough than a fresh pizza of the same type, and a bit less cheese. The ran neck and neck in the amount of sauce. Our taste-tests indicated though, that liberality or stinginess with any given ingredient wasn't a reliable guide to eating quality...Chemical analysis indicated that the samples averaged roughly half water, about 30 per cent carbohydrate, 10 per cent protein and, depending on pizza variety, anywhere from 6 1/2 to nine per cent fat. A typical, four-ounce serving would provide 220 to 304 calories. So, despite their status as a snack food, the pizzas we checked fulfill many of the nutritional requirements of a main dish...pizza's balanced protein-calorie relationship, uncommon in a snack food, might well promote the use of pizza as a meat substitute in your meal now and then...Pizza's main pitch for the buyer's dollar is based on sensory appeal. Accordingly, CU's food technologists evaluated from three to six samples of each frozen pizza fro flavor, aroma, texture and appearance...Unfortunately, very few crusts filled the bill even well enought to be rated Fair...No CU food project would be complete without a close look at product cleanliness. We accordingly analyzed duplicate samples of every product for viable microbes. Our first effort was a total bactyeria count per gram of pizza. That's usually a pretty good indicator of a food's sanitary status...our findings were far from reassuring...To be fair, such a dismal bateriological showing doesn't necessarily mean that a food is leaving the factory in filthy condition. Those bacteria can thrive at freezing temperatures will get a chance to increase inordinately in a pizza that's mishandled or stays overlong in a retail showcase...A check of the pizzas for extraneous matter also yielded disquieting results--about 96 per cent of the samples tested contained some quantity of insects or insect fragments. Those unsavory intruders turned up in every brand, and represent a higher level of such contamination than we have found in any other food category...As far as taste goes, we think most would do well to buy a freshly cooked pizza at a pizza parlor they know to be good and freeze it themselves..."
---"Frozen Pizza," Consumer Reports, June 1972 (p. 364-367)
"Coming to Chicago [and other markets] shortly as a part of a national roll-out is Stouffer's French Bread Pizza, a frozen prdouct in test in four markets including Indianapolis, through a good part of 1975."
---"Souffer's Heats Up Frozen Foods Mart," Chicago Tribune, February 26, 1976 (p. C10)
[NOTE: Records of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office indicate this product was introduced to the American public October 4, 1973. Registration #73414283]