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Pizza: It's History and Ancestors

Contributed by: Holly Bliss

You trudge through the cafeteria line, not quite sure what dubious culinary delight will await you further down. The smells that saunter toward your nose are varied and difficult to dissect. Then suddenly you get a peek, oh joy! It's pizza! But wait! Where exactly did it come from? No, don't try to look through the kitchen doors, let's peer into the depths of history to see where pizza was born.

The origin of pizza is a long and winding trail, and in order to simplify it, we will look at it like a family tree. Where do you think pizza was born? Italy? Well, you are only half right. The great-grandparent of pizza is the flat bread and that can be traced back to the Stone Age! This great-grandparent made its happy way all through the ancient world.

Then a version of this flat bread, pizza's grandparent, was born. We can't be exactly sure where, in the Mediterranean, it began, but we do know it traveled through Babylonia, Greece, and Italy. Sometimes called focaccia, it is flat bread jazzed up with spices, herbs, oils and cheese and other regional readily available items.

Pizza's parent was born when some dare devil, suicidal maniac or just one desperately hungry dude in the mid 1700's, decided to add a tomato. You laugh, but when the tomato plant was imported from the New World, they thought it was poisonous! Once they got over that, pizza took on a whole new look and dimension. Even though pizza's parent was still considered peasant food, they became fit for both royalty and the common folk. In fact, in the late 1800's, a very special pizza was created for Italy's king and queen and is still an Italian pizza classic.

The pizza sitting on your plate came from Italian immigrants and was made popular by WWII soldiers, who couldn't forget that particular taste of Italy. Today you can find pizza's cousins all over the United States (and the world), deep dish in Chicago, thin crust in New York, and more!

Now that you know more about one of your favorite foods, go (go on, I'll wait) and mark February 9th on your calendar, it's International Pizza Pie day!

Fun Facts:

  • According to the Guinness World Records, the largest pizza ever baked was one measuring 37.4 m (122 ft 8 in) in diameter, made at Norwood Hypermarket, Norwood, South Africa on December 8, 1990. The Norwood pizza's diameter was 3.5 m (11.5 ft) larger than the previous world record set by Pizza Hut, Singapore, in June 1990. The ingredients included 4,500 kg (9920 lb) of flour, 90 kg (198 lb) of salt, 1,800 kg (3,968 lb) of cheese, and 900 kg (1,984 lb) of tomato puree. (Source: <>)

    *For more fun pizza records, check out the source and search "pizza".

  • Milk from the water buffalo was made for the early (and currently best) mozzarella cheeses.

  • The tomato was first discovered in Peru.

  • Pizza is only beat out by the hamburger as the most popular fast food.

  • People in the US gobble up 350 slices of pizza a second!

  • Weirdest topping I've ever personally come across in the world? It's a tie between peas or tuna fish!

Using her writing as paint from the canvas of her life, Holly Bliss is an eclectic writer and mother of 4 children and many websites.

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