Other Historical Facts and Legends
1889 - Umberto I (1844-1900), King of Italy, and his wife, Queen Margherita di Savoia (1851-1926), on holiday, called the most popular of the pizza chefs, Raffaele Esposito. He prepared three kinds of pizzas: one with pork fat, cheese, and basil; one with garlic, oil, and tomatoes; and another with mozzarella, basil, and tomatoes. The Queen liked the last kind of pizza so much that she sent a letter to thank him saying, "I assure you that the three kinds of pizza you have prepared were very delicious." Raffaele Esposito dedicated his specialty to the Queen and called it "Pizza Margherita." This pizza set the standard by which today's pizza evolved.
NOTE: The first American pizzas were known as Tomato Pie. Present-day tomato pie is most commonly found in the Northeastern United States. Tomato pies are built the opposite of pizza pies - first the cheese, then the toppings, and then the sauce.
1905 - Gennaro Lombardi claims to have opened the first United States Pizzeria in New York City at 53 1/2 Spring Street. Lombardo is now known as America's "Patriaca della Pizza." It wasn't until the early 1930s that he added tables and chairs and sold spaghetti as well.
1943 - Chicago-style deep-dish pizza (a pizza with a flaky crust that rises an inch or more above the plate and surrounds deep piles of toppings) was created by Ike Sewell at his bar and grill called Pizzeria Uno.
1945 - With the stationing of American soldiers in Italy during World War II (1941-1945) came a growing appreciation of pizza. When the soldiers returned from war, they brought with them a taste for pizza.
1948 - The first commercial pizza-pie mix, "Roman Pizza Mix," was produced in Worcester, Massachusetts by Frank A. Fiorello.
1950s - Celebrities of Italian origin, such as Jerry Colonna, Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Durante, and baseball star Joe DiMaggio all devoured pizzas. It is also said that the line from the song by famous singer, Dean Martin; "When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, thats amore" sent America singing and eating pizzas.
1957 - Frozen pizzas were introduced and found in local grocery stores. The first was marketed by the Celentano Brothers.
In the late 19th century, pizza was sold in the streets at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It was a simple topping of mushrooms and anchovies. As pizza became more popular, stalls were set up where the dough was shaped as customers ordered. Toppings were invented. The stalls soon developed into the pizzeria.
Pizza was introduced to Chicago by a peddler who walked up and down Taylor Street with a metal washtub of pizzas on his head, crying his wares at two cents a chew. This was the traditional way pizza used to be sold in Naples, in copper cylindrical drums with false bottoms that were packed with charcoal from the oven to keep the pizzas hot.