50 Mouthwatering Facts About Pizza

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monkeybusinessimages/iStock via Getty Images

If you live in the United States, it’s statistically likely you’ll eat around 6000 slices of pizza over the course of your life. But how much do you actually know about that delicious combo of dough, cheese, and sauce? Where did pizza come from? What makes a great slice?

Whether you’re a fan of thin crust, deep dish, or the New York slice, here are 50 facts that’ll tell you everything you need to know about pizza.

1. The word pizza dates back to 997 CE.

The word pizza dates back over a thousand years; it was first mentioned in a Latin text written in southern Italy in 997 CE.

2. The Three Musketeers author Alexandre Dumas was one of the first people to take note of the pizza trend.

Portrait of novelist Alexandre Dumas
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In 1835, Alexandre Dumas, author of The Three Musketeers, traveled to Naples, where he observed that the Neapolitan poor ate nothing but watermelon during the summer and pizza during the winter.

3. America's first pizza parlor is still operating today.

The first pizza place in America was Lombardi’s in New York City. Originally opened as a grocery store, Lombardi’s started selling pizza in 1905.

4. Pizza's popularity in the United States began with Italian immigrants.

An American takeaway pizza parlor
Carl Purcell, Three Lions/Getty Images

During the first few decades of the 20th century, pizza was predominantly eaten and sold by working class Italian immigrants.

5. GIs were partly responsible for building pizza to America.

But after World War II, American GIs came home from Italy with a craving for pizza, bringing the food to a broader consumer base for the first time.

6. America's pizza craze began on the east coast.

Neon Pizza sign in New York City pizza store
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The first American cities to start selling pizza were New York; Boston; New Haven, Connecticut; and Trenton, New Jersey. All four of these cities had an influx of Southern Italian immigrants around the turn of the century.

7. Pizzas were originally only sold by the pie.

At first, pizzas were sold exclusively by the pie. But in 1933, Patsy Lancieri (of Patsy's Pizzeria in New York City) started selling pizza by the slice—a trend that was quickly picked up by other pizzerias.

8. Dogs love pizza, too.

Humans aren’t the only ones who love the taste of pizza: There’s even a mini pizza for dogs called the “Heaven Scent Pizza” made of flour, carrots, celery, and parmesan cheese.

9. Chicago's Pizzeria Uno invented the deep dish pizza.

Chicago Style Deep Dish Cheese Pizza with Tomato Sauce
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The first-known Chicago deep dish pizzas were created in 1943 by the restaurant that later became the Pizzeria Uno chain.

10. The founder of Domino's is one of only three people with a degree in "Pizza-ology."

Domino’s was founded in 1960. The restaurant chain’s founder, Tom Monaghan, is one of three people in the world who hold an advanced degree in "Pizza-ology” from the “Domino’s College of Pizza-ology”—a business management program he founded in the 1980s.

11. Domino's "30 Minutes or Less" guarantee led to unsafe driving conditions.

Domino’s dropped its “30 minutes or less” guarantee in 1993 after a series of lawsuits accused the company of promoting unsafe driving.

12. That 30-minute guarantee is still good in some places around the world.

Elio Blanco cuts a Domino's Pizza April 14, 2004 in Miami, Florida
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The Domino's delivery offer is still good in some places around the world. The guarantee has been great for business in Turkey, for instance.

13. Frozen pizzas arrived in grocery stores in 1962.

The first frozen pizza hit the market in 1962. It mostly tasted like cardboard until the genius food inventor Rose Totino got her hands on it.

14. The divisive Hawaiian pizza was invented in Canada by a native of Greece.

Close-up photo of a Hawaiian pizza
Juanmonino/iStock via Getty Images

The Hawaiian pizza was invented in 1962 by Sam Panopoulos, a native of Greece who ran a pizza place in Canada.

15. The president of Iceland has some thoughts on Hawaiian pizza.

In 2017, Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, the president of Iceland, told schoolchildren he would ban pineapple pizza if he had the power. (Jóhannesson later walked back the comment, insisting he held no such influence, but it sounded more like a lament than a retraction.)

16. More than half of Britons like pineapple on their pizza.

Also in 2017, a UK survey revealed that while 53 percent of citizens liked pineapple on their pizza, 15 percent would support a ban.

17. Politicians have used pizza deliveries to spy on reporters.

Man delivers pizza
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In the late 1960s, the U.S. Army’s 113th Military Intelligence Unit spied on reporters and politicians using fake pizza deliveries.

18. Countries around the world have developed their own spin on the Italian specialty.

Pizza may have originated in Italy, but countries around the world have developed their own regional spins on the classic food. In Brazil chefs top their pizzas with green peas, the French love fried eggs on their slices, and in China a crust made of mini-hot dogs is surprisingly popular.

19. The first online pizza order was made in 1974.

The first pizza ordered by computer happened in 1974: The Artificial Language Laboratory at Michigan State needed to test out its new “speaking computer,” so they used it to order a pepperoni, mushroom, ham, and sausage pizza from a local pizza joint.

20. Pizzerias have been used as fronts for illegal activities.

In the 1980s, the Pizza Connection trial became the longest running criminal jury trial in American history, running from 1985 to 1987. It prosecuted a group of mafia members who were using pizza restaurants as a front for drug trafficking.

21. Chuck E. Cheese was founded by the co-founder of Atari.

A sign is posted in front of a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant on January 16, 2014 in Newark, California
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Chuck E. Cheese's was founded by Nolan Bushnell, the co-founder of Atari, as a way to make more money off of the game consoles.

22. Chuck E. Cheese wasn't the only pizza place with animatronic mascots.

Chuck E. Cheese may be the most famous animatronic pizza-selling animal in the world, but in the '80s, ShowBiz Pizza Place’s “Rock-A-Fire Explosion” gave the rat a run for his money. ShowBiz's animatronic band played hit pop songs and original tunes at locations across America, and were the creation of Aaron Fechter (who also invented Whac-a-Mole).

23. There's a pizza expert known as the "Dough Doctor."

When pizza chefs around the world need help with their recipes, they turn to “Dough Doctor” Tom Lehmann. Lehmann, who lives in Manhattan, Kansas, is a pizza expert who has been working with the American Institute of Baking since 1967. One of the biggest challenges he's faced? Low-carb dough requests during the height of the Atkins diet craze.

24. Several future celebrities, including Jean-Claude Van Damme, began their careers delivering pizzas.

Actor Jean-Claude Van Damme speaks onstage during the Beyond Fest screening and Cast/Creator panel of Amazon Prime Video's exclusive series "Jean-Claude Van Johnson" at the Egyptian Theatre on October 9, 2017 in Hollywood, California
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Amazon Prime Video

Plenty of famous people got their start making and delivering pizzas. Stephen Baldwin and Bill Murray both worked at pizza restaurants, and Jean-Claude Van Damme used to deliver pizzas.

25. Frankie Muniz starred as a pizza-delivering superhero in Pizza Man.

The only pizza-themed superhero movie made to date is called Pizza Man. Released in 2011, the film stars Frankie Muniz as a pizza delivery guy who acquires super powers from eating a genetically modified tomato.

26. Home Alone star Macaulay Culkin formed a pizza-themed Velvet Underground cover band.

In 2013, former child star Macaulay Culkin formed a pizza-themed Velvet Underground cover band called Pizza Underground. The band performs hits like “I’m Waiting for the Delivery Man” and “All the Pizza Parties.”

27. Pizza played a key role in catching a serial killer in 2010.

Hand with black glove is stealing a slice of pizza on white background
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Pizza played a role in helping police catch an alleged serial killer known as the “Grim Sleeper” in 2010 when an undercover officer took a DNA sample from a slice of pizza the killer had been snacking on at a family birthday party.

28. Pizza has played a role in preventing several crimes.

Pizza has also helped prevent several crimes: In 2008 when a pizza delivery man in Florida was confronted by robbers, he threw the hot pizza he was delivering at them and escaped harm.

29. A pizza delivery once faked out a burglar.

In 2014, a woman called 911 to report a burglary, but because the burglar was still in her home, she came up with a novel way to get the attention of police: she pretended to order a pizza. Fortunately, the police figured out that something was not quite right with the pizza order, and instantly responded to the call.

30. In 2001, a pizza was delivered to the International Space Station.

International Space Station Orbiting Earth
3DSculptor/iStock via Getty Images

In 2001, Pizza Hut delivered a six-inch salami pizza to the International Space Station—the first pizza delivered to outer space

31. NASA-funded scientists invented a 3D-printed pizza.

A little over a decade later, in 2013, a group of NASA-funded scientists invented a 3D printer that could cook pizza in just 70 seconds, literally spraying on flavor, smell, and micronutrients.

32. The U.S military invented a pizza that can last for up to three years.

The U.S. Military Lab recently invented a ready-to-eat pizza that can last for up to three years. The pizza is intended for soldiers abroad who are craving a slice … and also presumably for anyone preparing for a zombie apocalypse.

33. Pizza has served as inspiration for several artists.

Hot pizza slice with melting cheese with frame concept photo
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Pizza is such an iconic food, it even inspired an art show. In 2013, the Marlborough Gallery in New York curated a show called “Pizza Time!” featuring more than 25 pizza-inspired works of art. The works ranged from paintings like “Caveman on Pizza,” which featured a sunglasses-wearing caveman surfing a giant slice of pizza, to works of art made of actual pizza, like John Riepenhoff’s “Physical Pizza Networking Theory.”

34. Pizza chefs have their own lingo.

Pizza chefs use a wide variety of pizza lingo to show they’re in the know. For example, a ball of dough that’s been stretched and is ready for toppings is called a skin; mushrooms are often referred to as screamers; and slices of pepperoni are called flyers, for the way they’re thrown around the pizza kitchen like Frisbees.

35. Pizza chefs are always look to achieve the perfect "crumb."

Cook hands kneading dough
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Pizza chefs call the internal cell structure of pizza dough “the crumb”—most pizza makers try to achieve a crumb that’s airy with large holes.

36. There are four primary kinds of mozzarella.

The four primary kinds of mozzarella used to make pizza are mozzarella di bufala (made from the milk of water buffalo in Italy, and used on Neapolitan-style pizzas), fior di latte (similar to mozzarella di bufala, but made from cow’s milk), burrata (a fresh Italian cheese known for its creamy filling), and “pizza cheese" (the less perishable whole-milk or part-skim mozzarella used by the majority of American pizzerias).

37. Scientists have studied what makes the best cheese topping.

In 2014, food scientists studied the baking properties of different cheeses, and found scientific evidence for a commonly known fact: Mozzarella makes the best pizza cheese.

38. There's a term for that gooey layer between a pizza's base and toppings.

Close-up shot on a slice of pizza
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Ever eat a soggy slice of pizza that seemed to have a gross gooey layer between the base and the toppings? There’s a term for that. It’s called the “Gum Line,” and it's dreaded by pizza chefs. It’s caused when dough is undercooked, has too little yeast, or is topped with sauce or cheese that’s recently been pulled from the refrigerator and hasn’t had a chance to reach room temperature.

39. Dough-spinning is an art form.

Think spinning pizza dough sounds simple? Think again. Dough-spinning has its own professional-level sporting event where pizza teams compete in acrobatic dough-spinning competitions at the World Pizza Championships.

40. Dough-spinning has a culinary purpose, too.

But spinning pizza dough isn’t just for show: It’s the best way to evenly spread dough, create a uniform crust, and even helps the dough retain moisture.

41. There's an association that sets rules about what makes a true Neapolitan pizza.

Preparation of a Margherita Neapolitan style pizza with buffalo mozzarella, tomato sauce and basil
Paolo Paradiso/iStock via Getty Images

There’s an association called the Associazione Verace Pizza Nepoletana (“True Neapolitan Pizza Association”) that sets specific rules about what qualifies as a true Neapolitan pizza and certifies pizza restaurants accordingly.

42. Pizza Margherita takes its name from Queen Margherita.

According to legend, the “Pizza Margherita” takes its name from Queen Margherita of Savoy who, in 1889, sampled three pizza flavors made by master pizza chef Raffaele Esposito and expressed a preference for the version topped with tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil, and designed to resemble the Italian flag. Nice story—and while the Queen did eat Esposito's pizza, there's no evidence of what was on the menu, and a lot of skepticism that this was mostly a marketing scheme concocted (complete with forged historical documents!) to boost business.

43. You can find all sorts of weird pizza-flavored items.

Over the years a number of strange pizza-flavored products have been released, including potato chips, ice cream, beer, and e-cigarettes.

44. Philadelphia is home to a pizza museum.

Liberty Bell and Independence Hall in Philadelphia
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There’s a pizza museum in Philadelphia called Pizza Brain that is home to the world’s largest collection of pizza memorabilia.

45. Halloween is a popular night for pizza.

Pizzerias sell the most pizzas on Halloween, the night before Thanksgiving, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, and Super Bowl Sunday.

46. The world's biggest pizza weighed more than 50,000 pounds.

Close-up of a young woman eating large slice of pizza
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The largest pizza in the world was 131 feet in diameter, and weighed 51,257 pounds.

47. The idea for Bagel Bites came from the back of a Lender's Bagel bag.

The inventors of Bagel Bites got the inspiration for their first recipe off the back of a Lender's Bagel bag.

48. Forty percent of us eat pizza at least once a week.

Close-up image of group of friends or colleagues eating pizza
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Research firm Technomic estimated in 2013 that Americans eat 350 slices of pizza each second, and that 40 percent of us eat pizza at least once a week.

49. Saturday night is pizza night.

Saturday night is the most popular night of the week to eat pizza.

50. Blotting your pizza does reduce the number of calories in a slice.

bite of cold pepperoni pizza
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Blotting your pizza does affect the number of calories you consume, but not by a lot. The Food Network series Food Detectives estimated the amount of calories saved by blotting to be about 35 calorie per slice.

12 Turkey Cooking Tips From Real Chefs

To get a turkey this beautiful, follow the tips below.
To get a turkey this beautiful, follow the tips below.
AlexRaths/iStock via Getty Images

When it comes to cooking a juicy, flavorful turkey, the nation's chefs aren’t afraid to fly in the face of tradition. Here are a few of their top suggestions worth trying this holiday season.

1. Buy a Fresh Turkey.

Most home cooks opt for a frozen turkey, but chef Sara Moulton recommends buying fresh. The reason: Muscle cells damaged by ice crystals lose fluid while the turkey thaws and roasts, making it easier to end up with a dried-out bird. For those who stick with a frozen turkey, make sure to properly thaw the bird—one day in the fridge for every 4-5 pounds.

2. Buy a Smaller Bird—or Two.

Idealizing the big, fat Thanksgiving turkey is a mistake, according to numerous chefs. Large birds take more time to cook, which can dry out the meat. Wolfgang Puck told Lifescript he won’t cook a bird larger than 16 pounds, while Travis Lett recommends going even smaller and cooking two or three 8-pound birds.

3. Brine That Turkey.


Manuta/iStock via Getty Images

Brining a turkey adds flavor, and it allows salt and sugar to seep deep into the meat, helping it retain moisture as the bird cooks. You can opt for a basic brine like the one chef Chris Shepherd recommends, which calls for one cup sugar, one cup salt, five gallons of water, and a three-day soak. Or, try something less traditional, like Michael Solomonov’s Mediterranean brine, which includes allspice, black cardamom, and dill seed. One challenge is finding a container big enough to hold a bird and all the liquid. Chef Stephanie Izard of Chicago’s Girl and the Goat recommends using a Styrofoam cooler.

4. Or, Try a Dry Brine.

If the thought of dunking a turkey in five gallons of seasoned water doesn’t appeal to you, a dry brine could be the ticket. It’s essentially a meat rub that you spread over the bird and under the skin. Salt should be the base ingredient, and to that you can add dried herbs, pepper, citrus and other seasonings. Judy Rodgers, a chef at San Francisco’s Zuni Café before her death in 2013, shared this dry rub recipe with apples, rosemary, and sage. In addition to a shorter prep time, chefs say a dry brine makes for crispier skin and a nice, moist interior.

5. Bring the Turkey to Room Temperature First.

Don’t move your bird straight from the fridge to the oven. Let it sit out for two to three hours first. Doing this, according to Aaron London of Al’s Place in San Francisco, lets the bones adjust to room temperature so that when roasted, it "allows the bones to hold heat like little cinder blocks, cooking the turkey from the inside out."

6. Cut Up Your Turkey Before Cooking.

This might sound like sacrilege to traditional cooks and turkey lovers. But chefs insist it’s the only way to cook a full-size bird through and through without drying out the meat. Chef Marc Murphy, owner of Landmarc restaurants in New York, told the Times he roasts the breast and the legs separately, while chef R.B. Quinn prefers to cut his turkeys in half before cooking them. Bobby Flay, meanwhile, strikes a balance: "I roast the meat until the breasts are done, and then cut off the legs and thighs. The breasts can rest, and you can cook off the legs in the drippings left in the pan."

7. Cook the Stuffing on the Side of the Turkey.

A traditional stuffing side dish for Thanksgiving in a baking pan
VeselovaElena/iStock via Getty Images

Many chefs these days advise against cooking stuffing inside the turkey. The reason? Salmonella. "With the stuffing being in the middle, a lot of blood drips into it and if everything in the middle doesn't come to temperature then you're at risk," chef Charles Gullo told the Chicago Tribune. TV host Alton Brown echoed this advice, and writes that it’s very difficult to bring the stuffing to a safe 165 degrees without overcooking the bird. (You can check out some more tips to prevent food poisoning on Thanksgiving here.)

8. Butter Up That Bird.

No matter if you’ve chosen a dry brine, a wet brine, or no brine at all, turkeys need a helping of butter spread around the outside and under the skin. Thomas Keller, founder of The French Laundry, recommends using clarified butter. "It helps the skin turn extra-crispy without getting scorched," he told Epicurious.

9. Use Two Thermometers.

A quality meat thermometer is a must, chefs say. When you use it, make sure to take the temperature in more than one spot on the bird, checking to see that it’s cooked to at least 165 degrees through and through. Also, says Diane Morgan, author of The New Thanksgiving Table, you should know the temperature of your oven, as a few degrees can make the difference between a well-cooked bird and one that’s over- or under-done.

10. Turn Up the Heat.

If you’ve properly brined your meat, you don't need to worry about high heat sucking the moisture out, chefs say. Keller likes to cook his turkey at a consistent 450 degrees. This allows the bird to cook quickly, and creates a crisp shell of reddish-brown skin. Ruth Reichl, the famed magazine editor and author, seconds this method, but warns that your oven needs to be squeaky clean, otherwise leftover particles could smoke up.

11. Baste Your Turkey—But Don't Overdo It.

Man basting a turkey
Image SourceiStock via Getty Images

Spreading juices over top the turkey would seem to add moisture, no? Not necessarily. According to chef Marc Vogel, basting breaks the caramelized coating that holds moisture in. The more you do it, the more time moisture has to seep out of the turkey. Also, opening the oven releases its heat, and requires several minutes to stabilize afterward. It's not really an either/or prospect, chefs agree. Best to aim somewhere in the middle: Baste every 30 minutes while roasting.

12. Let It Rest.

Allowing a turkey to rest after it’s cooked lets the juices redistribute throughout the meat. Most chefs recommend at least 30 minutes’ rest time. Famed chef and TV personality Gordon Ramsey lets his turkey rest for a couple hours. "It may seem like a long time, but the texture will be improved the longer you leave the turkey to rest," Ramsey told British lifestyle site Good to Know. "Piping hot gravy will restore the heat."

Why Do We Eat Pumpkin Pie at Thanksgiving?

gjohnstonphoto/iStock via Getty Images
gjohnstonphoto/iStock via Getty Images

While it’s possible—even probable—that pumpkins were served at the 1621 harvest festival that’s now considered the predecessor to Thanksgiving, attendees definitely didn’t dine on pumpkin pie (there was no butter or wheat flour to make crust).

The earliest known recipes for pumpkin pie actually come from 17th-century Europe. Pumpkins, like potatoes and tomatoes, were first introduced to Europe in the Columbian Exchange, but Europeans were more comfortable cooking with pumpkins because they were similar to their native gourds.

By the 18th century, however, Europeans on the whole lost interest in pumpkin pie. According to HowStuffWorks, Europeans began to prefer apple, pear, and quince pies, which they perceived as more sophisticated. But at the same time pumpkin pie was losing favor in Europe, it was gaining true staple status in America.

In 1796, Amelia Simmons published American Cookery, the first cookbook written and published in the New World colonies. Simmons included two recipes for “pompkin pudding” cooked in pastry crust. Simmons’s recipes call for “stewed and strained” pumpkin, combined with a mixture of nutmeg, allspice, and ginger (yes, it seems our pumpkin spice obsession dates back to at least the 1500s).

But how did pumpkin pie become so irrevocably tied with the Thanksgiving holiday? That has everything to do with Sarah Josepha Hale, a New Hampshire-born writer and editor who is often called the “Godmother of Thanksgiving.” In her 1827 abolitionist novel Northwood, Hale described a Thanksgiving meal complete with “fried chicken floating in gravy,” broiled ham, wheat bread, cranberry sauce, and—of course—pumpkin pie. For more than 30 years, Hale advocated for Thanksgiving to become a national holiday, writing regular editorials and sending letters to five American presidents. Thanksgiving was a symbol for unity in an increasingly divided country, she argued [PDF].

Abraham Lincoln eventually declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863 (to near-immediate outcry from Southerners, who viewed the holiday as an attempt to enforce Yankee values). Southern governors reluctantly complied with the presidential proclamation, but cooks in the South developed their own unique regional traditions. In the South, sweet potato pie quickly became more popular than New England’s pumpkin pie (mostly because sweet potatoes were easier to come by than pumpkins). Now, pumpkin pie reigns supreme as the most popular holiday pie across most of the United States, although the Northeast prefers apple and the South is split between apple and pecan, another Southern staple.

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