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The History of Pizza

Modern pizza has its roots in Naples, Italy. Because there was a high population of working poor, or lazzaroni, living in the area, Neapolitans developed an inexpensive, easy-to-eat food: flatbreads with various toppings. These early pizzas featured toppings that are still popular today, such as tomatoes, cheese, oil, anchovies, and garlic. When King Umberto I and Queen Margherita visited Naples in 1889, legend has it that they asked for pizza from Pizzeria Brandi, the successor to Da Pietro pizzeria, founded in 1760. The Queen loved the pizza mozzarella, which featured cheese, red tomatoes, and basil. The story goes that pizza mozzarella was renamed pizza Margherita in honor of the Queen. However, pizza remained a mostly Neapolitan dish for many years. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many Neapolitans immigrated to the United States for jobs, and they brought pizza with them. Non-Neapolitans and non-Italians were intrigued, and the first documented pizzeria in the United States, G. Lombardi’s, opened in Manhattan in 1905. After World War II, Italian-Americans migrated to other parts of the United States, and pizza’s popularity exploded. Due to the popularity of American things, Italians outside of Naples also began eating more pizza, as did the rest of the world. Today, pizza is one of the most popular foods in the world and each culture has their own take on the iconic food.

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