Fact: Dunkin’ Donuts is the most popular donut in the
Who doesn’t love pizza? Everyone, right? Well, rather than the few who hate tomatoes or the lactose-intolerant, everyone. In fact, 93% of Americans eat at least one pizza a month. From the thin-crusted New York style pizza to the thick and topping-laden Chicago style, pizza is the ultimate food. The chewy, crunchy crust topped with tangy tomato sauce and milky cheese makes the perfect feel-good food.
It’s all in the science
The dough, cheese, and sauce are tasty enough on their own, but the chemistry behind how pizza cooks makes it so good. The dough, a complex chemical reaction between flour, salt, water, and yeast, combines with the fat- and calcium-rich cheese and acidy sauce in the oven. In the oven, the flavors combine due the chemical process called the Maillard reaction. Once food reaches a temperature over 140 degrees Celsius, the sugars and amino acids react to create that tempting cooked smell and the bold, cooked flavor we love. The acid from the sauce and the fat from the cheese keep the top of the crust soft, adding the addictive chewiness that keeps us coming back for more.
It all started with Italian politics
Even though word “pizza” was first documented in 997, the combination of dough, cheese, and sauce didn’t exist until the 18th century. Now, flatbreads topped with oils and other toppings (cheeses, vegetables, and fatty meats) were eaten in the Mediterranean well before, but “modern” pizza was the result of Italian politics. The thriving city of Naples had a vast class difference. The majority of the Neapolitan poor needed to find an affordable and filling food. Thus cooks combined flatbread, tomato sauce, and preserved milk (cheese). The wealthy considered the food disgusting.
New York did invent American pizza
The New York/Chicago pizza debate goes strong, but the first slice of American-style pizza was invented in the Big Apple. In 1905, Neapolitan immigrant Gennaro Lombardi opened a pizza shop on Spring St. in Manhattan. While some slices had been sold by unlicensed vendors across the city, Lombardi was the first official owner of a pizzeria. Today, Lombardi’s still uses the same oven from 1905.
That’s a lot of pizza
Combining street vendors, pizzerias, take-out, delivery, frozen, and fast food pizza, pizza is the second most eaten food in America (second to only to chicken) – more than burgers, salads, and, another favorite, peanut butter sandwiches. It accounts for more than 10% of food sales. Americans eat an average of 100-square miles of pizza a year, or about 350 slices of pizza a second. That’s roughly 3 billions pizzas per year.
Not my favorite topping, but it’s popular
My favorite pizza toppings are fresh mozzarella, mushrooms, and olives, but those are not the norm. It shouldn’t come to any surprise that the most popular pizza topping is pepperoni. Americans alone eat around 251,770,000 pounds of pepperoni as a pizza topping. That’s a disgusting amount of pepperoni but not as disgusting as Japan’s favorites – mayonnaise and squid.
A surge in popularity
Despite the availability of pizza in big cities in the early years of the 20th century, it wasn’t until the 1950s that people started to truly take notice of pizza. Frank Sinatra, Joe DiMaggio, Jerry Colonna, and Dean Martin were among the first celebrity fans of pizza, and Martin’s lyric “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie” brought the pie into the public’s awareness.
That’s one expensive pie
The most expensive pie in the world can be found at Chef Renato Viola’s restaurants. The Pizza Louis XIII requires the chef himself, a sous chef and a sommelier and is served in your home. The pizza includes three types of caviar, lobster, prawns, and sea cicada and runs at the low, low price of $12,000.