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Who Invented Pizza?

During the early 16th Century, Spanish Conquistadors brought tomatoes back to Europe from Peru and Ecuador.
A pizza in an oven.
Lava from Mount Vesuvius, which erupted in 79 CE and covered Pompeii, was used in the first pizzeria.
An Italian tavern owner created the Margherita Pizza.
A pepperoni pizza.
A man delivers pizza from a local pizzeria.
Food historians believe that basil was one of the ingredients on the first "named" pizza.
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  • Written By: K T Solis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 13 August 2014
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No one can truly say who invented pizza. Pizza probably had its origins in prehistoric times since bread was one of the first types of prepared food, with the dough was baked on hot, flat stones. The ancient Greeks and Egyptians are said to have eaten a pizza-like food. Maybe the Greeks or Egyptians are the ones who invented pizza.

Despite these early incarnations, Naples is considered the birthplace of modern-day pizza. Naples may not be the city that invented pizza in its infancy, but it designed a dish that continues to influence the world to this day. The city of Naples developed flat circles of baked dough covered in spices and herbs. The simple dish was popular with the peasants of that area. The dish was called focaccia.

Later in Naples, casa de nanza was created. Women flattened dough into disk-like shapes and placed leftovers on top of them before baking the bread in the oven. This peasant food was created to be consumed without the use of utensils. It allowed housewives to incorporate fresh vegetables into their meals while not wasting yesterday's leftovers.

Pizza that looked more like modern-day versions didn't emerge until the 1600s. This was because of the Europeans' fear of tomatoes. During the early 1500s, Spanish Conquistadors brought tomatoes back from Peru and Ecuador.

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Unfortunately, the Europeans regarded tomatoes with suspicion, thinking that the fruit might be poisonous. By the late 1600s, Europeans overcame their fear and began to consume tomatoes. Peasants were the first to use the tomatoes on their pizza.

The world's first pizzeria opened its doors in 1738. The Naples restaurant was called Antica Pizzeria Port'Alba. Its pizzas were cooked in an oven that used lava from nearby Mount Vesuvius. In 1889, Queen Margherita Teresa Giovanni, wife of Umberto I, King of Italy, visited the city of Naples. A man by the name of Don Raffaele Esposito was the owner of the tavern Pietro Il Pizzaiolo and was asked to create a special dish in honor of Queen Margherita. He responded by serving the queen a pizza containing mozzarella cheese and basil.

Mozzarella was an ingredient never before used on a pizza. The pizza's characteristic red, white, and green color echoed the colors of Italy's flag, and Esposito dubbed it the Margherita Pizza. Pizza's popularity continued to grow throughout the centuries. Italian immigrants traveled to America and brought pizza with them. In 1905, the first licensed pizzeria opened on U.S. soil.

Called Lombardi's Pizzeria Napoletana, it was located in New York City. The historic pizzeria still exists today. In World War II, U.S. soldiers stationed in Italy returned home to America excited about the Italian dish called pizza. Their appreciation for the dish caused pizza to grow in popularity throughout the U.S.

The invention of the first pizza-like food remains shrouded in mystery. It's doubtful that historians will ever truly discover who first decided to flatten a piece of dough and sprinkle food on top before baking it. Despite its mysterious origins, the world continues its love affair with the delicious, oven-baked dish. Perhaps the question of who invented pizza isn't that important. The important fact is that it was invented, and people all over the world enjoy biting into a slice.

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anon937093
Post 6

Trying to say that pizza is not Italian is really funny. Incredible.

And food experts didn't come to a conclusion about who invented the pizza? Hah.

Everybody knows that pizza was invented in Italy and there is no historian who can prove the opposite. The pizza, real pizza, was invented in Naples.

anon278325
Post 5

I heard that it was in New York City, where the Neapolitans made it there and it turned out to be the first pizzeria in north America!

anon266705
Post 4

I read somewhere that the first modern day pizza with toppings was first cooked in Chicago. I heard, or read, that before that it was just a flat bread.

anon166817
Post 3

I'm sure it was probably the poor people who took the chance of eating the tomato. they must've been saying, this is pretty good. Hope it don't kill me! --Mick

elizabeth2
Post 2

Isn't it so crazy that the first pizzas didn't have cheese? I can't believe that the Margherita Pizza was the first to have cheese. It's hard to believe that the first pizzas were so different from what we consume today.

In my mind, pizza's just not the same without cheese -- I'm so glad it caught on!

calpat
Post 1

A lot of folklore is attached to the tomato. For example, in colonial days it was believed that eating a tomato would turn your blood into acid. We should be thankful to the brave souls who attempted to eat this scary fruit. What would pizza be today without the tomato? I can't imagine it would hold the same popularity.

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