Why Americans Believe Pizza Is an American Dish

Thursday May 21, 2020

Pizza is a staple food here in America. One of the main food groups, you could even say. It's so popular that 93% of Americans have eaten pizza in the past month alone. Think about it. Almost every single person you know has consumed at least a single slice this month. The dish has become so popular that many Americans believe pizza is an American food, when really, it's not. How can this be?!

The Origins of Pizza

Pizza is a dish that has been transformed throughout the centuries. That's right, centuries. While we associate it with football games, birthday parties, and take out night, the food dates back to ancient times, where variations had been produced by the Roman Empire, Persian Soldiers, ancient Greeks, and beyond.

Of course, these variations weren't the pizza we've come to know and love today. The pizza of the past was most commonly flat bread topped with cheese or other toppings but lacked our much beloved tomato sauce. Okay, maybe ancient pizza was not so different than the pizza we know and love today. After all, some people still order pizza without the sauce. However, the dish has evolved throughout the years. 

The Transformation of Pizza

The pizza we're accustomed to today, flat bread, loaded with red sauce, cheese, and an endless combination of toppings, originated in Naples, Italy. As far back as the 1500s, residents of Naples were selling pizza as street food, with oils and herbs as the base for cheese and toppings. A sauce-less pizza, but pizza nonetheless. Surely, just as delicious. 

The classic Margherita pizza that many Americans love today was developed and named after the Queen of Italy, and was comprised of ingredients that matched the colors of the Italian flag. However, this dish wasn't developed until several hundred years later than the first appearance of street pizza.

The Margherita recipe was nearly exactly as we order it today: pizza dough, fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil. Surely, if a dish was developed in Italy and named after their queen, this means that pizza must be an Italian food.

Pizza Gets Tomatoes

While the traditional recipe for pizza was certainly developed in Italy, it's actually the Spanish conquistadors who brought tomatoes to the country, leading to the innovation of today's pizza sauce. The addition of tomatoes to the dish happened in the 1700s, and the popularity of pizza in Italy surged.

What had once been a street food, or a dish eaten by the lower-class, was now mainstream. People traveled from all over just to try the pizza of Naples. 

How Pizza Officially Made Its Way to America

While the conquistadors brought tomatoes to Italy, lending to the development of the dish, pizza didn't make it's way to America for quite some time. It wasn't until the time of mass immigration in the 1800s that Italians brought pizza to our country. 

The dish gained traction in major cities that are still known for their trademark pizza dishes today. Cities like New York, famous for their dollar slices of deliciously greasy, cheese loaded pizza stands, and Chicago, home to the deep dish, quickly caught on to the pizza trend. Other cities, such as Philadelphia, Boston, St. Louis, and Trenton soon followed suit. And so, the love of pizza began to spread across the nation. 

Just as in Italy, pizza began it's journey in America as a street food. 

Pizza Chains Across America

Pizza slowly made it's transition from a street food into the massive commercial dish that it is today. With the opening of major pizza chains in the USA, it was brought to the masses. Major pizza chains in America began opening starting in the 1950s and expanded from there.

Hungry Howie's® Pizza is now the 11th largest pizza chain in the entire United States. Founded in 1973 in Taylor, Michigan, we have grown to more than 550 locations across the country. That's nearly 50 years in business serving slices and pies in the USA to pizza lovers everywhere.

Hungry Howie's® Continues the Tradition of Innovation

With so many pizza lovers, here at Hungry Howie's® we knew that we could continue the tradition of innovation and make the dish even better. That's why we invented the Hungry Howie's® Flavored Crust® in 1985, so that customers can choose from eight mouthwatering flavor additions to add to their pie.

We've held onto the tradition of making our pizza dough fresh daily, using 100% mozzarella cheese, and only high quality toppings to deliver pizza options that are both fresh and delicious.

Why Do Americans Believe Pizza Is an American Food?

While the roots of pizza date back thousands of years, and the first version of the pizza that everyone has come to love today was developed in Italy, many Americans believe that pizza is an American food. This may be due to the cultural differences in pizza found across the world. What you'll find on an American pizza, you may not find in Italy. In Japan, you're likely to find squid, mayo, and potato on pizza. Something highly unlikely here in the U.S.

American Pizza Stats and Facts

Reports have shown that American pizza consumption accounts for nearly one third of the total global market and that here in the USA we spend about $37 billion a year on pizza alone. 

It may be that many Americans believe pizza to be an American dish simply based on its wide presence in the country. Everywhere you turn, there's a pizza joint. It's even said that citizens eat the equivalent of up to 100 acres of pizza a day here in the USA, and more than 15% of all restaurants in the United States are pizzerias. That's a lot of pizza.

The bottom line is that pizza has been adopted by Americans and tweaked based on personal preference and taste. While many debate whether pizza is an American or an Italian dish, the question is much more complex. 

Ultimately, here at Hungry Howie's® we appreciate the rich and historic culture of pizza, and strive to continue preparing only the most delicious pies to all of our customers across the USA.