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The Surprisingly American History of Pizza

When you think of pizza, you might think of delicious, melted cheese stretched and pulled with every passing bite. Or maybe you think of piles of pepperoni, stacked on top of fluffy, warm, rising dough. But you probably also think of Italy and the tossing of circular, doughy pies into the air, fittingly accompanied by a thick accent straight from the heart of Rome. Although pizza truthfully got its start in Italy, the history of pizza is largely interlinked with the western hemisphere.

 

The beginning of pizza: Did you know pizza dates back to 600 BC?! The ancient Egyptians used to eat pizza!

Traced back to 600 B.C., pizza was eaten by the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians. Typically made as more of a flatbread dish, pizza was a legendary staple known for its convenience and easy consumption by the working class. Although mostly eaten by the lower classes, there are rumors that Kings and Queens of Italy ate it regularly! Despite its popularity and a royal blessing, pizza didn’t really take off until immigrants made it a must-have on New World soil.

The rise of pizza: Pizza didn’t become popular until it was brought to New York in the 1940s

Those establishing lives in New England (specifically settlers from Naples) founded pizzerias up and down the East Coast in big cities like New York—cities that saw a large spike in working class populations due to the concentration of urban factories. Soon, the easy-to-eat pie became a common dish, but it didn’t take off until the 1940s. After World War II, people began perceiving pizza as an “American” creation, rather than a foreign concoction; its popularity soared. Now, pizza has become a usual suspect on Americans’ plates. From Chicago-style pizza to the thin slices of New York, pizza varies by region and has a different meaning across the United States.

Whether you’re looking for deep dish in Chicago or simply wishing to get some Fremont street pizza in Las Vegas, don’t forget pizza’s roots. Head on out to Pop Up Pizza in the Plaza Hotel for a slice.

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