The earliest known pizza dates from about 200 BC. For centuries Greeks and Italians used flat round bread with toppings on it. But it was the Italians who added tomatoes and cheese to make the pizza as we know it. The world’s first pizzeria, Antica Pizzeria Port’ Alba in Naples, opened in 1830 and is still in business.
The modern Pizza was created by Naples baker Raffael Esposito. In 1889, he created a pizza for King Umberto and Queen Margherita while they were visiting Naples, topping the pizza with red tomatoes, white cheese and green basil to resemble the Italian flag. He named the pizza in honor of Queen Margherita. The queen was keen to try this “new” food fad but were reluctant to visit the pizzeria. Thus she became the first person to order a take-out (take-away) pizza.
Today, more than five billion pizzas are sold annually, more than one billion in frozen form. Even so, it is second in popularity to the hamburger, of which more than 5,5 billion are sold annually. Interestingly, although US citizens eat twice as much meat as Europeans, the Margherita (without a meat topping) remains the most popular pizza choice in the US. The favorite pizza topping for Europeans is tuna.
The word “pizza” is from the Latin verb pìnsere, to press, first recorded in a Latin text dated 997 AD from the town of Gaeta in Southern Italy.
Cheese Pizza Day is celebrated every year on September, 5th.