The Delicious History of Pizza: From the Desk of Professor Exit4Pizza
If you somehow converted our oven at exit4pizza into a time machine, climbed inside, and traveled to 997 AD central Italy, you'd stumble across a historical moment: The first time the word "pizza" was documented on paper.
Since pizza is an important part of the food trinity (bolstered by our calzones and hoagies), it's fitting that the first reference to the word was in the "codex dimplomaticus cajtanus," which was essentially a list of food that had to be supplied to the archbishop of Gaeta, Italy, every year.
But that doesn't mean it was the origin of all pizza. In fact, Plato described something similar to today's pizza all the way back in the 5th century BCE. Across the Mediterranean, Egyptians had fiteer, which was a pastry similar to pizza and served to the Egyptian gods. Which, now that we think of it, sounds like something we do when we open the shop each morning.
What we know as pizza—a mass-produced, delicious treat served on dough with tomato sauce and other toppings—blew up in the 1700s in Naples among the lazzaroni—the working poor. These folks bought pizza because it was cheap and could be consumed quickly while they went about their day (which is still a big selling point 300 years later).
Pizza Took Its Time to Grow
Though the concept of a flat bread with toppings dates all the way back to antiquity, it wasn't until the 1940s that authentic pizza really extended beyond Italy's borders in large quantities.
The first to try selling everyone's favorite dish in the United States was a restaurant in Manhattan called G. Lombardi's. This licensed pizzeria started selling slices and pies all the way back in 1905. It took decades for the dish to take off, but boy, did it ever get popular.
Americans now purchase about 3 billion pizzas a year (though the numbers on how many of those are Pittsburgh pierogi pizzas are a little fuzzy). To give you some scale, that's about 100 acres of pizza per day. Or, if that doesn't help: You could install a new wall-to-wall pizza floor in the Mall of America every day. We wouldn't recommend eating it, however.
2018: A Big Moment in Pizza History
Not to brag, but something exciting happened in May of 2018 in Pittsburgh: We opened our shop off Exit 4 in Etna! Stocked with recipes perfected by a pizza connoisseur, we serve up fresh, delicious pizzas every day. At exit4pizza, we go whole-hog on the whole pie, so every bite is loaded with flavor and toppings.