Approximately 3 billion pizzas are sold in the United States each year, and although pizza’s history dates back for centuries, it was only in the past fifty years that it caught on in the United States.
Consider these pizza tidbits (source: The Pizza Joint):
- Americans eat approximately 100 acres of pizza each day, or 350 slices per second.
- Pizza is a $30 billion per year industry.
- There are approximately 61,269 pizzerias in the United States.
- Each man, woman and child in America eats an average of 46 slices (23 pounds) of pizza a year.
- Approximately 3 billion pizzas are sold in the U.S. each year.
- Pepperoni is America’s favorite topping (36 percent of all pizza orders); we eat approximately 251,770,000 pounds per year. Other popular pizza toppings are mushrooms, extra cheese, sausage, green pepper and onion.
- In America, anchovies always rank last on the list of favorite toppings.
- Gourmet toppings are gaining ground in some parts of the country with such toppings as chicken, oysters, chicken, crayfish, dandelions, sprouts, eggplant, Cajun shrimp, artichoke hearts and tuna.
- Sixty-two percent of Americans prefer meat toppings on their pizza, while 38% prefer vegetarian.
- Women are twice as likely as men to order vegetable toppings on their pizza.
- Pizza as we know it could not have evolved until the late 1600’s when Old World Europeans overcame their fear of a New World discovery — tomatoes. Native to Peru and Ecuador, a plant which produced yellow or red fruit (later called tomatoes) was introduced to Europe in the early 1500s. Brought back by Conquistadors to Spain, the tomato was thought to be poisonous and was viewed with suspicion. It wasn’t until the late 1600’s that Europeans began to eat the tomato.
- Modern pizza was born in 1889 when Queen Margherita Teresa Giovanni, the consort of Umberto I, king of Italy, visited Naples. Don Raffaele Esposito, who owned a tavern-like place called Pietro Il Pizzaiolo, was asked to prepare a special dish in honor of the Queen’s visit. Esposito developed a pizza featuring tomatoes, mozzarella cheese (a never before used ingredient made from the milk of water buffalo) and basil – ingredients bearing the colors red, white and green for the Italian flag. He named it the Margherita Pizza, after the guest of honor. Thus, the modern-day tomato-and-cheese pizza was born.
- Shops in the volcano-devastated city of Pompeii bear the characteristics of a pizzeria.
- The popularity of pizza exploded throughout the country when World War II servicemen returning from Italy began opening pizzerias and raving about that “great Italian dish.”
- In 1905, Gennaro Lombardi opened the first licensed American pizzeria, Lombardi’s Pizzeria Napoletana, at 53-1/2 Spring Street in New York City.
- The world’s largest pizza was built on October 11, 1987 by Lorenzo Amato and Louis Piancone. The pizza covered 10,000 square feet and measured 140 feet across. It weighed in at 44,457 pounds, consisting of, among other items, 18,174 pounds of flour, 1,103 pounds of water, 6,445 pounds of sauce, 9,375 pounds of cheese and 2,387 pounds of pepperoni. The pie was cut into 94,248 slices and eaten by more than 30,000 spectators at the baking in Havana, Florida.