How Pizza Got its Circular Shape

Thursday Oct 27, 2016

What is the meaning of life? Is our universe real? Do we have free will? There are many philosophical questions that may never be answered. Fortunately, there is one that we can answer.

“Why are pizzas round?” is a common query in Google that yields millions of results. It seems that many people are genuinely curious as to why pizzas mainly come in a circular shape. Admittedly, yes, some do come in a square or rectangular shape, but most are round.

The history of pizza is debatable. The word pizza was allegedly first documented in 997 AD in Gaeta, and then eventually in Italy. Some trace the origins back to foods similar to pizza, and developed by Ancient Greeks, Persians and the French. However, in 1984, the "Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana” (True Neapolitan Pizza Association), set forth very specific rules for an authentic Neapolitan pizza. The rules specified that a pizza must not exceed 13.7 inches in diameter, which means round pizzas are real pizzas, forget those square ones!

But why must is be round? For starters, round pies can be easily cut and divided into equal pieces. Second, a circular shape can be more evenly cooked and heated throughout.

Pizza dough is also stretched by spinning the lump of dough in the air, which takes advantage of centrifugal force and rounds the dough out. Picture someone forming a rectangular pizza by spinning it in the air – it’s just not going to happen.

There are many arguments to be made about round vs. square pizza. For example, you can’t beat the folding method when eating round pizza, but some might say that with a square pizza there is a more even distribution of toppings.

If you’re wondering why pizzas are round, but come in a square box, the answer is simple. It’s actually cheaper to make square boxes than circular ones.

At the end of the day, pizza is pizza and it’s going to taste delicious no matter if it is round, square, rectangular or shaped like a heart.