Time to Celebrate National Cheese Pizza Day
Are you a pizza purist? Do you cringe when a friend says, “I’d like pineapple, salmon and mashed potatoes on mine.” Now that might be fine for some, but I say, “Hold the toppings!” It’s time to celebrate the singular cheese pizza.
We do know a fair amount about the origins of pizza and its toppings. Many believe it was the ancient Greeks who started it all by covering their bread with oils, herbs, and cheese.
The Romans also developed a version of the pizza. Using bay leaves for flavoring, the Romans topped the dough with cheese and honey.
When it comes to the modern pizza, we turn again to Italy and the city of Naples. The Neapolitan flatbread created the beginnings of the pizza we know and love today. It was topped simply with mozzarella cheese made from high-quality buffalo milk. Additional toppings included garlic and anchovies.
The first pizzeria in the U.S. opened in 1905 in New York’s Little Italy. Then, it took more than 30 years for the pizza to travel west when the D’Amore family introduced pizza to Los Angeles in 1939. But the popularity of pizza in the U.S. rose dramatically following World War II. Veterans returning from the Italian campaign led the increase in pizza consumption. It’s been a grand love affair ever since.
Now, more than 2 billion pounds of pizza cheese is produced each year in the U.S. alone, and in 2020, America’s pizza industry (both chain stores and independent pizzerias) generated an estimated $46.24 billion in sales. Five billion pizzas are sold worldwide each year and Americans eat approximately 100 acres of pizza each day, or 350 slices per second. Like me, 36 percent of Americans consider pizza the perfect breakfast food. According to New York-based nutritionist Chelsey Amer, a slice is better for you than most of your favorite breakfast cereal.
Consumer spending on pizza delivery in the United States reached approximately 14 billion U.S. dollars in 2020, the highest figure since 2007. The industry reported its largest year-on-year growth in recent years, increasing by around three billion U.S. dollars between 2019 and 2020.
The number of pizza restaurants in the United States has also been on the rise, increasing by over 6,000 units in the last eight years to a high of more than 78,000 units in 2020.
The most expensive pizza in the world ($12,000) was created by Renato Viola for a select crowd in Salerno, a coastal city in Italy. The dough is made from organic Arabian flour, is dusted with Murray River pink salt, and takes 72 hours to prepare, which allows it time to rest before being cooked.
The toppings are as excessive as you’d expect, including three rare types of caviar, Norwegian lobster and seven types of cheese.
The pizza is served with a host of hand selected beverages, including Champagne Krug Clos du Mesnil 1995, which complements the lobster and caviar, followed by Carta Real Sanches Romate Finos brandy and Louis XIII cognac – a revered spirit, commonly known as the rarest, most expensive cognac on the market.
On September 5, forget the champagne and caviar and celebrate the humble cheese pizza. You might still love adding pepperoni, barbecued chicken, or peas and carrots, but nothing surpasses the basics of holding a gently folded, single slice of melty deliciousness — the cheese pizza.