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Who Really Invented Pizza, Anyway?

Pizza recurs as a frequent theme in various cultures throughout history. Which begs the question: Who invented it in the first place? Is there any better time to tackle this tasty topic than during the month of September — host of National Cheese Pizza Day? Let’s take a closer look at pizza’s journey through the edible ages.

National pizza day

Say cheese!

Tracing Pizza’s Place

Tracing pizza’s origin is not as easy as you might think. Why? Because it largely depends on how you define it. Flatbreads date all the way back to 500 B.C. when Persian soldiers used their shields in the fields as pans to bake flatbreads covered with favorite toppings including everything from cheese to dates.

Ancient Egyptians, Israelites, and Babylonians also made flatbreads, as did Indians (in the form of baked naan) — although none resembled pizza in the topping-laden form we know and love today.

The Greeks and Romans, meanwhile, did top their flatbreads with ingredients like local spices and olive oil, but is pizza really pizza without the cheese?

A Modern-Day Marvel

While pizza has been around in various incarnations for millennia, Naples baker Raffaele Esposito is often credited with originating the version we now think about when we think about pizza. However, Esposito may have simply stolen the delectable tomato sauce, cheese and toppings concept from street vendors who made them and served them to the city’s poor workers.

Still, we do have Esposito to thank for the widespread popularization of pizza. After serving it to Italian King Umberto I and Queen Margherita during their 1889 Naples visit, pizza took off. (Your pizza trivia for the day? That pizza — which went on to give Margherita pizza its name — was designed to match the colors of the Italian flag: red tomato sauce, white mozzarella, and green basil.) Later, as Italians began to immigrate, they took their favorite local recipes and traditions along with them. And so pizza made its way across the rest of the continent and overseas.

The country’s inaugural pizzeria opened in 1905 in New York City, ut it wasn’t just immigrants who brought their love of pizza to the U.S. American soldiers who’d enjoyed noshing on it while overseas during World War II brought home a newfound demand for pizza, and the rest is delicious history.

Putting a Fresh Spin on Pizza

While there’s no substitute for the pure pleasure of sinking your teeth into a good, old-fashioned slice of cheese pizza — after all, it does have an entire day devoted in its honor — the options are near-endless when it comes to how we enjoy pizza today. Were you raised on classic New York-style pizza, or does Chicago deep dish have your heart?

And then there are the toppings. While classics like cheese, sausage, pepperoni, and veggie are still reached for again and again, California-inspired gourmet versions keep things interesting. (Lobster white truffles anyone?)

National cheese pizza day

Why choose between pizza and meatballs when you can have both?

But all pizza is not created equal. Why settle for inferior versions when the country’s best pizza pies are within your reach, thanks to mail order food? Whether you’re looking for deep dish, thin crust or New York pizza shipped, shop FoodyDirect today to click your way to a superior slice.