Today is National Pizza Day, which is observed annually on Feb. 9. We love pizza and could talk all day about gourmet pizza. We believe the best things in life are simple and fresh, and we take great pride in making mouth-watering pizzas that have flavors melded in true artisan fashion so that the pizza tastes better than fantastic.
Holidays are a great time to enjoy pizza, as the greatest number of pizzas are sold on Halloween, the night before Thanksgiving, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day and Super Bowl Sunday. Today, on National Pizza Day, we’d like to share some interesting facts about this truly iconic meal.
An American Favorite
Americans consume an average of 23 pounds of pizza per person each year. Over 3 billion pizzas are sold each year in the United State, plus another 1 billion frozen pizzas. At last count, 17% of all U.S. restaurants are considered pizzerias, and this number doesn’t include restaurants that have a more multi-cultural menu (rather than mostly Italian food) that includes pizza as an option. Plain cheese and pepperoni as the most popular pizza; 37% of North American consumers order cheese and 52% order meat toppings.
A 2013 estimate said 350 slices of pizza are consumed in North America each second, and 40 percent of us eat pizza at least once a week. A U.S. Department of Agriculture food report from 2014 found 13% of Americans consume pizza on any given day. And a recent Gallup Poll said kids between ages 3 and 11 prefer pizza over all other meals for lunch and dinner.
Italian Beginnings for World-Wide Fame
Pizza was invented in Naples, Italy around the 10th century. There are various competing claims for who opened the first pizzeria, but what we do know is until the 1800s, pizza was thought of as a peasant’s meal. It wasn’t until a margarita pizza was created for visiting royalty, who were in turn impressed by the Italian flag colors represented by the white mozzarella cheese, red tomato sauce and green basil. Soon, pizza became a staple in restaurants all across Italy, and its popularity spread around the world.
Gennaro Lombardi opened the first licensed American pizzeria in New York City in 1905. It was predominantly sold to working class Italian immigrants, but after World War II, American GIs came home from Italy craving for pizza, and it exploded in popularity.
Other pizza facts:
- Hawaiian pizza (with Canadian bacon and pineapple) was invented in 1962 by Sam Panopoulos, a Greek native who ran a pizza place in Canada.
- Each country has pizza favorites. Brazilians love pizzas topped with green peas, the French prefer fried eggs on top, and in China, a crust made with mini-hot dogs is popular.
- The first pizza ordered by computer happened in 1974.
- A six-inch salami pizza was delivered to the International Space Station in 2001.
- In 2013, NASA-funded scientists invented a 3D printer that could bake a pizza in 70 seconds.