Who invented pizza? Why was it invented? Looking at the history of pizza, it seems there are a few opinions on who discovered pizza and the first known pizza restaurants.One opinion that is common to all the research is that Pizza is a convenience food. In the 1800s, pizza was adopted by the peasants as a cheap, convenience food. The original pizza base was believed to be from flattened breads or flat breads. Pizza was easy to prepare; make yeast dough, dab some tomatoes, herbs, cheese and whatever you had around the house.Pizza was discovered in Naples by the Napolitano bread bakers...The bread bakers sat down after a long day of cooking bread. They shaped up some of their leftover yeast dough, spread a few olives or basil, crushed Italian tomatoes and topped it with some mouthwatering mozzarella cheese and then cooked the pizza in their wood-fired ovens.Modern pizza is attributed to baker Raffaele Esposito of Naples in the Italian region of Campania...In 1889, he baked a special pizza especially for the visit of King Umberto I and Queen Margherita of Savoy. The pizza was very patriotic and resembled the Italian flag with its colors of green (basil leaves), white (mozzarella), and red (tomatoes), and was named Pizza Margherita in honor of the Queen and set the standard by which today's pizza evolved and spread worldwide.The first pizza restaurant was Port Alba, opened in Naples in 1830. This restaurant served pizza baked in ovens made from lava rock. The first American pizzeria was opened in New York in 1905 by Gennaro Lombardi. This restaurant (Lombardi's) is still in operation today. The pizza is baked in a coal-burning oven with the same recipe Gennaro Lombardi brought from Naples in 1897.The first pizza in Australia came from recipes that were brought across by the Italian immigrants from the early 1920's. The first known pizza shop may have started after the war. In the 1950's, we witnessed the start of the first pizza bars in Adelaide, Melbourne and the other cities. The homemade pizzas certainly influenced the Australian pizza market.The pizza trends from the 1950s to the 1980s were 100 percent dine-in or pick-up. In the U.S., the delivery revolution began in the late 1970s with the ratio around 90 percent pick-up and 10 percent delivery. A deck oven required a special oven tender called a pizzaiolo. The pendulum changed with the invent of the conveyor pizza oven. This started the delivery revolution. Then, the pizza chains started a price war with the pairs program; two pizzas for the price of one.In Australia it was all about volumes. The pizza chains went to conveyor technology, cooking times went from 20 minutes in a deck oven to eight minutes cooking time and less in a conveyor oven. The chains replaced their old deck ovens with high volume conveyor technology. A conveyor oven can produce high volumes from a 32-inch wide belt and 40-inch tunnel. Volume is required to keep up with the delivery and pick-up demands.Conveyor technology removes the need for an expert pizzaiolo as compared to the old deck ovens.In the 1980s through to the early 1990s, the ratio of delivery to pick-up was 20 percent dine-in and pick-up to 80 percent delivery.The price of pick-up pizza has changed the pendulum around with 70 percent pick-up and 30 percent delivery. After Christmas in 2005, Little Caesars Pizza in the U.S. will be offering their customers a pick-up only system. Little Caesars test piloted the pick-up only system with great results to their bottom line.

Christopher Columbus

Question: What does Christopher Columbus have to do with the modern pizza? The obvious answer: Columbus came from Genoa, in Italy, which is also home to focaccia, the northern Italian bread that may be a precursor to the modern pizza. But that's not the answer I'm looking for. The answer is: Tomatoes! Tomatoes came to Italy from the New World in the post-Columbus 16th Century. Technically speaking, it wasn't Columbus who brought tomatoes to Europe. The first tomatoes to reach European shores came from Peru, which was conquered by Francisco Pizzaro of Spain in 1531. Honestly though - if I had asked "What does Francisco Pizzaro have to do with modern pizza?" wouldn't you have answered, "Who cares? Most Europeans feared that tomatoes were poisonous (they members of the Nightshade family), but the adventurous (and hungry) poor of Naples found that tomatoes were not only NOT deadly, they were delicious. And they tasted mighty fine on a hot baked flatbread. With cheese. The first pizza, as-we-know-it.

Fun Facts

The largest pizza ever made was at the Norwood Pick 'n Pay Hypermarket in Johannesburgh, South Africa. According to the Guinness Book of Records the pizza was 37.4 meters in diameter and was made using 500 kg of flour, 800 kg of cheese and 900 kg of tomato puree. This was accomplished on December 8, 1990.

On 22 March 2001, Bernard Jordaan of Butler's Pizza, Cape Town, South Africa, delivered a pizza 11042km (6861 miles) from Cape Town to Sydney, Australia, to set the world record for the longest pizza delivery. This record was acknowledged in the Guinness Book of Records.

In Feltham, London, a new record for the farthest food delivery was achieved by Lucy Clough of Domino's. A vegetarian supreme pizza was cooked on November 17, 2004 and travelled a distance of 10,532 miles to its delivery point at 30 'Ramsey Street', Melbourne, on November 19, 2004. The record is in the 2006 version of the book of Guinness World Records

Most expensive pizza created was made by the restaurateur Domenico Crolla who created a $2,745.00 priced Valentine pizza which included toppings such as sunblush-tomato sauce, Scottish smoked salmon, medallions of venison, edible gold, lobster marinated in the finest cognac and champagne-soaked caviar.