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Last Updated on February 22, 2021

Today, ordering pizza is something considered as natural as brushing your teeth.

But that hasn't always been the case! The curious ones may ask questions such as: when was the pizza invented? How did this immensely popular dish find its way from southern Italy to the United States? And when was the first pizza delivered in the US?

In this article, we'll take a deep dive into the universe of pizza to uncover its origins. Get ready for a fun and cheesy history lesson!

1889: The World's First Pizza Delivery

The legend tells that it 1889, Queen Margherita of Savoy and King Umberto I of Italy were on a trip to Naples in southern Italy. The queen was allegedly sick of heavy, French-inspired food considered suitable for the royals at that time – she wanted something lighter, food for ordinary people.

Renowned pizzeria Brandi and its owner and pizza chef Raffaele Esposito had the honor of creating something worthy for a queen. Together with his wife, Raffaele Esposito composed a special pizza in the colors of the Italian flag: red, green, and white, represented by red tomatoes, green basil leaves, and white mozzarella cheese.

However, even a queen has her limits. While she wanted ordinary food, it was out of question for the queen to eat it among ordinary people at the pizzeria. Mr. Esposito himself delivered the freshly baked pizza to the royals in what was probably the world's first pizza delivery.

The dish turned out to be a huge success, and Esposito received a letter from the Head of Table Service of the Royals’ Household stating that Her Majesty found the food delicious. Flattered, Esposito named the pizza "Pizza Margherita" after Queen Margherita. [1]

Pizza Enters the US

The pizza found its way into the US borders with Italian immigrants in 1904. [2] This was when the first pizzeria was opened in New York City by grocer Gennaro Lombardi.

Lombardi's is still operating in NYC, and the current owner John Brescia talks about the famous guest passing by:

Jack Nicholson used to come a lot. He loved it here. Second time he came, I’ll never forget it, it was late, we’re kinda’ empty, and he opened the door, stuck his head in, and yells ‘I’m back!’ And his eyebrow went up like he does. ... What a down to earth guy. Nice, nice guy. Anytime he was in New York for a basketball game or the fights, he’d come in for pizza.

- John Brescia, Owner

But it wasn't until 1945, when World War II had just ended, that pizza delivery became a thing. US soldiers returning home from the war raved about the pizza they had eaten in Italy. And since not all of them had a pizzeria nearby, a pizza place in New York City came up with the concept of home delivery. The pizzas were transported in individual boxes to stay fresh.

A few years later, Los Angeles took it up a notch by offering free delivery with any pizza purchase.

In the '60s, fast food became a thing, and home delivery of pizza flourished with chains such as Domino's dominating the market.

Online Pizza

Through 1994-1997 there was an experiment called PizzaNet – a website where you could order pizza online. In the beginning, no one took it seriously – but nowadays, no one seems to remember the days when you had to call to order your pizza deliveries.

Phone Pizza

Mobile apps started to explode in 2009. Since pizzerias have always been quick to jump on the bandwagon, it didn't take long until many pizzerias had developed their own apps aimed at fast delivery for pizza.

Drone Pizza

And it doesn't stop there. In 2016, you could be among the pioneers to get a delivered pizza by a drone directly to your door! Pizza delivery truly goes (or flies) hand in hand with the development of technology.

FAQ

Who invented the pizza?

The world's earliest documentation of the word "pizza" stems from 997 in Gaeta in southern Italy. In 16th-century Naples, the term was used for a special kind of flatbread. At the time, pizza was considered food for the poor people – not a real restaurant-worthy dish – and was sold on the street. [4]

Although some pizzerias had popped up in Naples and started to serve what resembles the modern pizza, it was considered a sweet dish for a long time. It wasn't until 1911 that the pizza turned from sweet to savory and found its way into the cookbooks – namely, La Scienza in cucina e l'Arte di mangiar bene by Pellegrino Artusi. [5]

The evolution of the pizza has happened step by step, and it's hard to say which pizza chef can be considered the inventor of the pizza.

Where was pizza invented?

The first time the word "pizza" was documented was in Gaeta, but the pizza as we know it was invented in Naples in southern Italy. While it is not 100% clear when the first pizza was baked, the famous legend of the first Pizza Margherita served in honor to Queen Margherita in the colors of the Italian flag, crowned with red tomatoes, green basil, and white mozzarella is by many considered to be the first pizza delivery.

Conclusion

Pizza and pizza delivery has a long and winding history. While no one knows exactly where and when it started, it's safe to say that the first known pizza delivery was that of the Margherita Pizza to the queen with the same name. The first pizza delivery in the US probably happened as late as 1945.

Technology has a tight-knit relationship with pizza delivery. We have drone delivery of pizza already – and pizza has even been delivered to astronauts at space stations! [6]

Sky is apparently not the limit for this beloved Italian dish.

References

[1] Danford, N. (October 1994). Beyond Pizza, Vegetarian Times. Active Interest Media

[2] http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2013/05/the-origin-of-pizza/#:~:text=Italian%20immigrants%20brought%20pizza%20to,1905%20in%20New%20York%20City, as seen on Sept 14, 2020

[3] https://whalebonemag.com/interview-first-pizzeria-nyc-u-s-lombardis, as seen on Sept 14, 2020

[4] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/foodanddrinknews/11408256/Was-pizza-not-invented-in-Naples-after-all.html, as seen on Sept 14, 2020

[5] Mattozzi, A. & D. (2016), Pizza. Una grande tradizione italiana. Bra: Slow Food Publisher

[6] https://www.businessinsider.com/pizza-on-the-international-space-station-2015-2?international=true&r=US&IR=T#:~:text=Back%20in%202001%2C%20Pizza%20Hut,ISS)%20onboard%20a%20resupply%20rocket, as seen on Sept 14, 2020

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Hi, I'm Paul. Welcome to my website! I, along with my cronies, are leveraging our years of working in the food industry to review meal and drink delivery services. We review. You eat happily ever after.

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