A Slice of History: Pizza Through the Ages

“Although voracious aficionados can suck down several sauce-laden slices in mere minutes, pizza didn’t develop in a vacuum—an Italian political vacuum, that is,” according to History.com.

“Founded around 600 B.C. as a Greek settlement, Naples in the 1700s and early 1800s was a thriving waterfront city. Technically an independent kingdom, it was notorious for its throngs of working poor, or lazzaroni. “The closer you got to the bay, the more dense their population, and much of their living was done outdoors, sometimes in homes that were little more than a room,” said Carol Helstosky, author of “Pizza: A Global History” and associate professor of history at the University of Denver.

Unlike the wealthy minority, these Neapolitans required inexpensive food that could be consumed quickly. Pizza—flatbreads with various toppings, eaten for any meal and sold by street vendors or informal restaurants—met this need. “Judgmental Italian authors often called their eating habits ‘disgusting,’” Helstosky noted. These early pizzas consumed by Naples’ poor featured the tasty garnishes beloved today, such as tomatoes, cheese, oil, anchovies and garlic.”