From ancient Italy to modern America – The evolution of pizza


When someone is asked what one of their favourite homey-style dishes is, something they eat to feel comfort, quite often the answer comes back as, simply, “pizza”. We are a species that is conditioned to find comfort in the familiar, and thanks to a long history and a global recognition of the dish’s ongoing popularity, pizza has become one of the most familiar things in the world in developed countries, and even beyond them to their neighbouring countries and regions. When we find a dish that we love, we tend to market it to death, create an industry off the single dish alone, and then forge it into a kind of cult fascination that is beloved the world over. It is quite rare that a food can stand as its own industry (ordinarily food all falls into the same industry – hospitality – or even under cultural cuisines – Italian food, Indian food, English food), but pizza has become such a global phenomenon that it has successfully been welded into an industry all its own.

The origins of pizza differ depending on who you talk to, but the most famous origin story hails from Italy. While the history of pizza runs back to the roots of various ancient cultures, Italy has the biggest claim to the delicious food. Traditionally made as a focaccia (flat bread, or panis focacius, that toppings were laid upon, the dish evolved with the times. The modern version of the dish that is renowned all over the world was first created in Naples – again, in Italy – when 18th century pizza makers began adding tomato to the focaccia to liven it up. initially, pizza was mainly enjoyed by immigrants in the country of Italy. Time went on, and quite recently Italian archaeologists (along with the French) have found bread that was baked over 7,000 years ago in Sardinia.

Fast forward to present-day, and pizza has not lost its stance as a beloved food around the globe – not by a long shot. From its origins in Italy all the way to modern America, pizza is now a staple food of choice all over the world. In the city that never sleeps, you can buy $1 slices seven twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. In Australia, this trend has taken hold and main cities now offer a similar idea for a slightly higher cost. The ingredients can be cheap to purchase and make in some places, meaning that the dish can be enjoyed by most people. This global fascination with the cheesy, saucy bread pies has resulted in a business model that seems to gain more traction all the time. The pizza business is incredibly competitive, and so the industry has had to adapt to new marketing strategies and technologies to get ahead of their competitors and reign cheese supreme.

In terms of marketing, there is a lot to be said about taking a great idea and capitalising on it. One of the strangest (yet most wonderful) displays of society’s love for a particular food is bringing it to life in the form of a pop up museum. In New York last month, the first of these kinds of museums opened in the big apple that was catered towards pizza. At $35USD a head to get in, the museum was sold out every opening for its three-week long running. The rooms were entirely pizza-themed, with a “cheesy cave” room, rooms stacked with boxes from different New York pizzerias, and a slice on the way out. In addition to pop up featurettes around the world (they are not only popping up in the US), there are phone covers, key rings, clothing, backpacks…everything that can possibly be marketed towards pizza, has been.

Technology has taken hold of the industry and powered it forward in a transitory era that has been difficult for some industries to adapt to. It used to be that, as with any food experience, one had to physically go to a restaurant to order, and potentially wait anywhere from twenty minutes to over an hour for meals. As life has gotten busier, the fact is that people do not have the time to wait so long (no matter how much they love pizza). As a solution, technology began to disrupt the industry and now ordering pizza is easier than ever before. These days, we can order a pizza online with a few simple clicks of a button, and it is delivered right to our doorstep. There are also multiple food delivery vendors now that will deliver it for a fraction of the price of normal delivery through the pizzeria itself – a relatively new concept that has resulted in pizzerias (and all food establishments, for that matter) to wise up and partner with these delivery vendors, benefiting from the deal while still raking in business. The pizza industry is one has is constantly booming, and the disruption of technology into the sector has improved the industry and given it the digital revitalisation it needed to efficiently transition into the next era – the digital era.

These days, people want their food and they want it now. In a world that is propelled forward on convenience, efficiency, and reliability, the pizza industry has evolved with the times, shifting its business models and creation methods to remain a force to be reckoned with in an ever-evolving world. The world’s love for pizza has not changed, just the lifestyle, and so it is great to see that the industry has taken heed of these life changes (such as busy scheduling and subsequent limited time) and is using them to strengthen the industry and give it the modern revitalisation it needs to thrive on into the coming eras.

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