Need an excuse to eat more pizza? Of course you do! In that case, you might want to set a calendar reminder for September 5th, because that’s National Cheese Pizza Day.Sure, we all like pizzas with lots of toppings, but this is a day to honor a humble classic, the plain cheese pizza, in all its savory, saucy, stretchy glory.
Pizza by the numbers
Pizza is pretty popular, and here’s the proof:
- 43% of Americans report eating pizza at least once a week.
- 93% of Americans who eat pizza do so at least once per month.
- Global sales of pizza reached almost $155 billion in 2019, with $46 billion of those coming from the U.S. market.
- There are more than 75,000 pizza outlets in the United States.
The origins of pizza
People have been putting yummy ingredients on flattened dough and baking it since the Neolithic age, but we can thank the Byzantine Greeks for the name we use today. They called it πίτα, or pita, which translates simply to “pie.” The first recorded use of the word “pizza” in Italy was found in texts from 997 AD, in which a baker promised to pay a fee of 24 pizzas per year to the bishop.
How they eat pizza in Italy
You won’t find pre-sliced circular pies with an endless selection of toppings in Italy. Pizza is either served whole at a restaurant and eaten with a knife and fork, or you can order it from a pizzeria, where it’s cut into squares from a large tray and served to go. This is known as pizza al taglio, or pizza by the slice.
Types of pizza in America
In the states, many places proudly sport their own styles of this enduring favorite. New York-style pizza has a flexible, thin crust that’s easily foldable to eat on the go. It was developed by immigrants from Naples, Italy. Chicago-style pizza is typically deep-dish or has a stuffed crust. Greek pizza is cooked with oil in a metal pan and has a bubbly puffed-up crust. If a restaurant is called a “House of Pizza,” they serve this style.
Pizza around the world
Pizza is so universally popular that countries all over the globe have developed their own take on it to suit local tastes.
- In Brazil, they top their pizzas with peas.
- In Russia, fish pizza is popular. You’ll often find mackerel, sardines, tuna and salmon together on top of a single pie, served cold.
- In Scotland, whole pizzas are dipped in batter and deep-fried. This delicacy is known by locals as “pizza crunch,” and you can order it at just about any fast food joint. Haggis is a typical topping too.
- In Costa Rica, coconut is sprinkled on like parmesan.
- Smoked reindeer is Finland’s answer to pepperoni.
- Swedes and Icelanders go bananas for bananas on their pizza.
The first pizza delivery
The first-ever pizza delivery went to the doorstep of Queen Margherita of Savoy in 1889. In those days, Italian nobles turned their noses up at pizza because it was considered peasant food. On a visit to Naples, however, the queen grew sick of rich dishes and wanted to sample some simple local comfort food. So, Tavern owner Raffaele Esposito made a patriotic pizza for her using the colors of the Italian flag: red tomato sauce, white mozzarella, and green basil. Queen Margherita loved it so much that they named it after her.
Pizza world records
Can you top this?
- The world’s largest pizza was made in Rome, Italy, in 2012. It measured 13,580.28 square feet. It was also gluten-free.
- The record for the world’s longest pizza came out of California in 2017. It was 6,333 feet and required 17,000 pounds of dough, almost 4,000 pounds of mozzarella, and 5,000 pounds of tomato sauce.
- In 2006, a Romanian man named Cristian Dumitru ate 200 pounds of pizza — more than his body weight — in one week.
The priciest pizza
For a cool $12,000, you can order the “Louis XIII Pizza” created by master chef Renata Viola in Salerno, Italy. Unsurprisingly, it’s the most expensive pizza in the world. Despite being less than 8 inches in diameter, it takes almost 72 hours to make from start to finish. Toppings include Australian pink salt, mantis shrimp, lobster, and three kinds of caviar.
Pizza in pop culture
- Before he found fame, Jean Claude Van Damme was a pizza delivery driver. Bill Murray and Alton Brown also worked at pizzerias.
- The creators of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman, claimed to have eaten tremendous amounts of pizza while creating the original comic. This is why the turtles love it so much.
- In 2013, grown-up child star Macaulay Culkin of Home Alone fame formed a cover band called Pizza Underground, which was pizza-themed. Their hits include “All the Pizza Parties” and “I’m Waiting for the Delivery Man.”
How to celebrate National Cheese Pizza Day
Everyone knows the best way to celebrate cheese pizza day is to eat cheese pizza! Whether you go frozen, delivery, or made from scratch, here are a few sneaky ways to take your cheese pizza to the next level.
- Sprinkle on freshly grated hard cheeses, like parmesan or romano. You can also add crumbles of goat cheese or dollops of fresh ricotta.
- Crank up the heat with a squeeze of sriracha sauce or a dusting of red pepper flakes.
- Drizzle on a high-quality flavor-infused olive oil or freshly made pesto.
- Torn fresh basil leaves or arugula add a delectable finish to a freshly cooked pizza.
- Pizza and beer go hand in hand, but when it comes to wine, pinot noir is the best pairing.