Time magazine interviewed pizza historians and experts to determine, which pies made the biggest impact on the pizza industry—and the world at large.
And here they are:
1. Margherita Pizza: As legend has it, Queen Margherita of Italy wanted to try the Neapolitan flatbread she’d heard so much about during a visit to Naples in 1889. Of the three varieties she sampled, her favourite was her namesake: a Margherita pizza whose toppings mimicked the colours of the Italian flag: red tomatoes, white mozzarella and green basil. Whether the origin myth is true or invented, the Margherita pizza helped spawn almost every modern-day pie and is now “the standard for what a good pizza is”, says Helstosky.
2. Domino’s: When Tom Monaghan took over the Ann Arbor eatery (known then as DomiNick’s) in 1960, he pioneered the delivery and takeout-only concept, making pizzas like this available on-the-go. (The chain would later be the first to use thermal delivery bags to keep the pies hot in transit.) The success of that model prompted copycats all over the world and helped pave the way for food-delivery services like Seamless and GrubHub.
3. Totino’s Frozen Pizza: Pizza was still a relatively niche interest in American cuisine in the middle of the 20th century, but the introduction of frozen pizza helped put it on every table. Rose Totino was the first to do this in a major way (the Celentano Brothers beat her by several years with far less success), opening a factory in 1962 to market the pie recipes from her Minnesota pizzeria to a much wider audience. Now, consumers can defrost everything from simple DiGiorno’s to more upscale options like Newman’s Own and Kashi.
4. Lombardi’s: Even if you haven’t heard of this pizza, you have tasted the fruits of its labour. As the first documented pizzeria in the US (it was licensed in New York in 1905), Lombardi’s was the first step on pizza’s path from Neapolitan specialty to global mass-market obsession. To be sure, it had help; other early US pizzerias included Totonno’s (opened by a Lombardi’s alum in 1924), John’s and Grimaldi’s, all of which blossomed after WWII, when vets returning home started craving the pies they’d come to love while stationed in Naples.
5. Ed LaDou’s Pizzas: Prior to the “California style” trend, pizza was a simple food meant to be enjoyed by the whole family, says Helstosky. But when chef Ed LaDou started making smaller pies garnished with more varied, non-traditional toppings, the dish became a foodie favourite. With help from Wolfgang Puck (who he met in 1980), LaDou developed the luxe pizza menu at Spago and eventually the first menu for California Pizza Kitchen, which mainstreamed the gourmet pizza trend. His legacy endures today in trendy pizza spots like Roberta’s and Motorino.
6. Shakey’s: The first fast-food pizza debuted in 1954 in Sacramento, California, paving the way for joints like Pizza Hut in 1958, Little Caesar’s in 1959 and Domino’s in 1960—and helping pizza transition from an ethnic dish to a mainstay of American cuisine. Shakey’s remains in business, but it now has more locations in Asia than in the US.
7. Uno’s: The iconic pie—which debuted in Chicago in 1943, at a restaurant called Pizzeria Riccardo, then Pizzeria Uno and now Uno Chicago Grill—is widely considered to be the first-ever deep-dish pizza. The heavy, buttery crust was a complete departure from the standard Neapolitan and came to “define an entire city”, according to Wiener. The company rapidly expanded through franchises in the 1980s and today deep-dish pizza is a staple on menus at Little Caesars, CiCi’s and more.
8. Pizza Hut Stuffed Crust: Others have claimed they invented this novelty (cheesemaker Anthony Mongiello holds a 1987 patent for the idea), but Pizza Hut was the first to launch cheese-filled crusts on a national scale in 1995. Once it took off in the States, says Carol Helstosky, author of Pizza: A Global History, Pizza Hut developed regional versions overseas—from hot-dog stuffing in the UK to cheeseburger stuffing in the Middle East to Marmite stuffing in New Zealand. The hit has spawned copycats from Godfather’s Pizza, DiGiorno’s and more.
9. Totino’s Pizza Rolls: A favourite at slumber parties, pizza rolls (originally produced in 1968 by Jeno’s, which was later sold to Totino’s) wrap traditional pizza ingredients inside a salty and chewy crust. They kicked off the pizza-as-snack craze that eventually spawned pizza bagels, pizza Lunchables and even pizza-flavoured Pringles.
10. Pepe’s White Clam Pie: This pie—created by Frank Pepe at Pizzeria Napoletana in the mid-1960s—was the first to put a completely unconventional topping (seafood) on a sauceless pizza.
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