There’s no such thing as a bad pizza. Even the little pizza squares served at school lunch are tasty. New York style, deep dish, thin crust, white, BBQ – there’s a type of pizza that appeals to every sort of person. The popularity of pizza in America is insane, so here are eight things you didn’t know about pizza that might make you appreciate your anchovy and green olive-topped monstrosity a little more.
1. Pizza didn’t originate in Italy: Contrary to popular belief and numerous Italian stereotypes, pizza didn’t originate in Italy, but in Greece. The Ancient Greeks, when not leaving their deformed children to the wolves or waxing philosophic, would take flat pieces of bread and cover it in oils and herbs with cheese.
The Byzantine Greek word for this creation was “pita,” which means pie. The modern pie, however, did originate in Italy with the addition of tomato sauce, but cheese wasn’t added to this until 1889. So while the Italians perfected it, you have the Greeks to thank for originally slathering fat onto carbs and making it awesome.
2. America celebrates National Pizza Month: While the month stuffed crust pizza was introduced should be National Pizza Month, we began celebrating it in 1984 (though some sources say 1987) thanks to Gerry Durnell, the founder of Pizza Today magazine. While everyone celebrates the glory of the pizza pie every month, Durnell created the month for slightly selfish reasons. October was chosen because it was the month his magazine debuted, which was in turn developed to helped support his own independent pizza restaurant and the industry in general. It doesn’t stop there, though. National pizza festivals are held in October in honor of the “holiday,” featuring bake offs and games. Given how much pizza is consumed daily, you’d think every month would be National Pizza Month. Or National Obesity Month.
3. 350 Slices of pizza are consumed every second: Roll that around in your brain for a few seconds. That’s the equivalent of 100 acres of pizza per day! That’s a lot of ‘za. The average person also eats approximately 46 slices of pizza per year, which must be discounting college students, the lazy, and those who can put down an entire large every single time they place an order. The trick to that is to eat it so fast your stomach can’t signal your brain that you’re full in a timely manner. Result: Blowing that measly “46” slices out of the water before March.
4. Pizza toppings around the world are straight up weird: While many are content with their pepperoni and mushrooms, pizza toppings around the world can get downright weird. Popular toppings in Japan include squid and Mayo Jaga, which is a mix of mayonnaise, potato, and bacon; in Israel you might find labane, or strained yogurt, on your pizza; and if you find yourself in Australia it wouldn’t be uncommon to find kangaroo, crocodile, and prawns on the list of toppings available. My brother once put baked beans on his pizza, so none of that really seems bizarre to me.
5. What can be called “pizza” has pretty strict requirements, at least in Italy: Most people think of pizza as a circular piece of dough topped with tomato sauce, cheese, and whatever toppings suit your fancy. Nothing more, nothing less. But in some areas, there are strict guidelines for some pies to be considered a true “pizza.” A bill in Italy outlined the correct way to prepare and bake a pizza, and only by following these rules can what you’re eating be considered pizza. People take these rules seriously. A Romanian man holds the record for eating the most amount of pizza (over 200 pounds), but his feat has been contested by the previous record holder due to the low ration of cheese to sauce, which he claims doesn’t make it pizza.
6. The largest pizza ever made, ironically, in South Africa: You might not expect it, but the world’s largest pizza was made in a country known for poverty. Norwood Hypermarket in South Africa holds the record for making a 26,833 pound pizza. That’s over 13 tons of pizza. It was 122 feet, 8 inches across, and contained 3,968 pounds of cheese and 1,984 pounds of tomato sauce. By default, I’m going to guess it was of the traditional “thick crust” style.
7. Pizza delivery is one of the most dangerous professions: Sure, it doesn’t hold a candle to oil rig worker, police officer, or stunt man, but the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks “drivers-sales workers,” such as delivery drivers and cabbies, as working in the fifth most dangerous profession. One only has to recall the story of Brian Douglas Wells, a professional delivery driver who was kidnapped and forced to rob banks with a bomb collar around his neck while on a delivery. Eventually, the bomb exploded and he was killed, which served as the inspiration for the movie 30 Minutes or Less, proving in a bizarre way that there is no subject too gruesome or sad to inspire entertainment. Ironically, most corporate pizza chains ban their drivers from carrying weapons, so it’s a good thing most drivers don’t tell their managers about the knife they have in their pocket at all times.
8. That little white, 3-legged table in the middle of your pizza serves a purpose: Most people have had the pleasure of opening up a pizza and seeing a small, three-legged mini-table stuck in the middle of the pizza. Known alternatively as the “pizza saver” or “package saver,” this simple little device was developed by Carmela Vitale of Dix Hills, NY to prevent the box from sagging or being impacted and thus ruining the top of the pizza. Now if only they could invent something to prevent it from sliding around in the box and we’d be good to go.