Pizza is now one of the most beloved foods on the planet, but it has not always been held in such high esteem. At its core, pizza is a food intended to be served at informal venues, sold on the streets to feed the masses, but today it can be found in restaurants of all varieties. Until 1940, pizza was actually little-known outside of Naples, but it gained significant popularity in Italy once Queen Margherita dined on the pie now named for her. This article will explore more of pizza’s history so you can see how it went from being known as the food of peasants to being one of the most popular foods in the world.
For most people today, pizza must have red sauce, cheese, and a variety of toppings. However, pizza was created as a more humble offering that only had a small selection of toppings—often excluding tomatoes altogether. Pizza began as flatbread, which was topped with whatever was affordable and available.
In 1889 King Umberto and Queen Margherita visited Naples, where the queen dined on the local cuisine as a departure from the French haute cuisine she was accustomed to. A variety of pizzas were served to her, but her favorite by far was topped with tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozzarella—each topping representing a section of the Italian flag. From this point, pizza became a staple of Italian cuisine.
While Italy embraced pizza as a national dish, it took some time to gain popularity in the United States. Italian immigrants brought pizza to American cities, but it was not until the end of WWII that the food became a staple of American dinner tables. Now each region has its own unique take on pizza, including the iconic thick-crust deep dish famous in Chicago.
Now pizza has become so well-traveled that you do not have to fly to Chicago to sink your teeth into deep dish pizza.