13 Myths You Can Stop Believing About Pizza

It’s no secret that pizza is wildly popular. No one ever says, “No, thanks,” to pizza night. And whether you stop at your favorite local pizza place, order takeout, have it delivered, or make your own, it’s tough to go wrong. Even leftover pizza is great, and it’s the rare meal that’s just as good the second time. Because pizza is so widely popular, it’s one of those foods that we think we just know.

Hold on. It turns out that if you do some research, a lot of the so-called “facts” we think we know about our beloved pizza are just downright wrong. As a food originally for the poor, pizza had very few chronicles until recently, which means there’s no archive of pizza history filled with details about important firsts or crucial developments. So there’s little agreement and significant mythology surrounding this popular food.

Like any great cultural icon, pizza has been the subject of plenty of gossip and speculation over the years. And while there are plenty of reasons why pizza is amazing, its ongoing popularity has given rise to some inaccurate facts that can be pretty confusing. Some of these so-called “facts” have been transformed into believable truths which are no more than glorified myths.

In this article we’ll take a closer look at some of the most common pizza myths and separate fact from fiction. Whether you’re a pizza aficionado or just a casual fan, you’re sure to find something interesting in this exploration of the world of pizza.

The Origin of Pizza Is Italian

While the flatbread-sauce-cheese version of pizza most likely originated in Naples, Italy can’t quite take credit for inventing pizza. Flatbreads topped with various ingredients have been around for thousands of years, with the ancient Egyptians and Greeks both enjoying their own version of pizza-like dishes. It wasn’t until the late 19th century that modern pizza as we know it today with its tomatoes, cheese, and various toppings emerged in Italy.

So, while pizza may be closely associated with Italy, the history is much more complex and varied.

Returning Soldiers Made Pizza Popular in the United States

In this myth, it is said American soldiers enjoyed pizza so much during WWII that they had to bring it back to their families and friends back home. This is thought because of the coincidental timing of the soldiers return and the growing popularity of the dish.

While it’s possible that soldiers ate pizza in Italy during the war, and some may have sought it out upon their return to the United States, it’s unlikely that this accounted for its increasing popularity. Pizza was in short supply in Italy during the war; the country was so destitute from fascist misrule that most Italians didn’t have the ingredients or the ability to make pizza. Naples residents were starving and their first concern was to feed their families.

American Pizza Is Pretty Much Like the Italian Kind

Anyone who has been to Italy and ordered a pizza knows that what Italians consider pizza and what Americans consider pizza is very, very different…but unless you’ve been there, it’s easy to assume that it’s pretty much the same.

When ordering a traditional pizza in Italy, expect a cracker thin crust, a sauce made from tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, and oregano, and the choice of one or more toppings. These are the basics, and of course there are regional differences. But you’re not going to find things like New York’s big floppy slices, or a stuffed crust pizza. Italian sauce is heavier on the herbs and less tangy than American sauces. And toppings? Let’s just say toppings enhance, but definitely play a secondary role, to the actual pizza.

Mozzarella di Bufala Is Required for a Great Pie

Pizza purists may argue that fresh mozzarella, made with the milk of a water buffalo, is the superior cheese for your pie. But that is not true. The best cheese to use depends on the style of pizza you’re making. For instance, you would not use it in a New York style pizza. Mozzarella di Bufala has more water in it and so it makes a soupier pie. A big New York pizza needs a drier cheese.

The Thicker the Crust the Better the Pie

While a thick crust can be delicious, it’s not necessarily the best choice for every pizza. In fact, the ideal crust thickness depends on the style of pizza and personal preferences. Some people prefer a thin and crispy crust while others prefer a thicker and softer crust. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to crust thickness. What’s most important is that the crust is cooked to perfection and complements the toppings and sauce.

Pepperoni Pizzas Are Common in Italy 

Pepperoni pizza is a big favorite in America. If you head to Italy and seek out a traditional pizzeria, you will find your pepperoni pizza option on the menu right? Most likely not! You can try to order a pepperoni pizza in Italy, but you will be disappointed with what you actually get. That’s because “pepperoni” (in Italy) means peppers (bell peppers).

Pepperoni is an American thing. It’s a mix of smoked beef and pork, and they don’t use that in Italy. You could get a salame piccante in Italy, which is spicy pork sausage. That’s the closest thing you’ll get to pepperoni. But, really, they don’t use much smoked meat in Italy; it’s usually cured, fermented, and aged instead.

Only San Marzano Tomatoes Make a Good Sauce

You can’t just use any old tomato to make a pizza sauce right? Wrong. Many Americans mistakenly believe that San Marzano tomatoes are exclusively grown in Italy and are the only tomato to make an authentic pizza sauce. The reality is that San Marzano is the name of a tomato seed which can be grown in various places across the globe.

If you head to the grocery store to buy San Marzano tomatoes for homemade pizza, there is nothing to say it isn’t a tomato from China (avoid this by looking for the authenticity certification label). Anyway, it’s possibly a good idea to buy some whole peeled plum tomatoes that you actually enjoy. That would make the perfect traditional pizza sauce indeed.

The Pizza Margherita Was Invented for Italian Royalty

The naming of the pizza Margherita Neapolitan, remains one of the most celebrated myths of pizza lore.

Legend holds that King Umberto I and Queen Margherita visited Naples in 1889. After they grew tired of French cuisine, then a staple for European royalty, Raffaele Esposito of Pizzeria Brandi was summoned to prepare a variety of pizza for the bored queen. Her favorite: the pizza alla mozzarella, known thereafter as the Pizza Margherita. Pizzeria Brandi proudly displayed the thank you note signed by Galli Camillo, head of table of the royal household dated June 1889.

But historians (as well as pizza makers) dispute the authenticity of the note and cast doubts on this encounter between Italian royalty and a pizza maker. Pizza historian Antonio Mattozzi calls Esposito’s claim that he invented the margherita a “half truth” at best and suggests that we ignore the picturesque elements “of the story about the encounter between Margherita and Esposito, attributing the supposed event to Esposito’s keen sense of marketing.”

All Leftover Pizza Needs Is a Minute in the Microwave

We won’t judge you, no matter how you like your leftover pizza: in the microwave, from the pizza box on the counter, or out of the fridge. However, if you’re looking to recapture that fresh-from-the-oven flavor, there’s a simple trick you should know.

Heat a nonstick skillet to medium and arrange a slice or two of leftover pizza in the center of the pan. After a few minutes, your bottom should be crisp and your cheese should be nicely melted. At this point, you can eat immediately, though if you’d like to go the extra mile, drizzle a few drops of water in the pan, turn down the heat, and cover for one extra minute. This will leave you with a fluffy crust and more evenly melted cheese.

All Pizzas are Unhealthy

Pizza has a reputation for being unhealthy, but this isn’t necessarily true. While it’s true that some pizzas are loaded with calories, fat, and sodium, it’s possible to enjoy pizza as part of a healthy diet. The key is to make smart choices when it comes to the crust, sauce, and toppings. 

For example, choosing a thin crust or a crust made with whole grains can be a healthier option. Similarly, ordering a tomato sauce rather than a cream based sauce and opting for vegetables as toppings can help make your pizza more nutritious. So, don’t write off pizza as an unhealthy food. With a little planning, it can be a delicious and nutritious addition to your diet.

Hawaiian Pizza Came from Hawaii

The origin of Hawaiian pizza is one of the biggest pizza myths. Despite its name, this pizza does not come from Hawaii.

A man in Canada, San Panopoulos, created a pizza with a pineapple on it as a joke with his brother. What started as a gag became a controversy the world over (some love the idea but many more hate it). However, we can say for certain that it did not originate in Hawaii (nor is it popular there).

Pizza Should Only Be Eaten for Dinner and Lunch

Pizza is often relegated to the late hours of the day, but it shouldn’t be. Contrary to popular belief, pizza can be a perfectly acceptable breakfast. Some nutritionists recommend a slice over other sugary breakfast items.

With its balanced mix of carbs, proteins, and fats, pizza holds an edge over some traditional breakfast foods like cereals, keeping you satiated for a longer period of time and avoiding the blood sugar spike that can result from muffins, pancakes, and the like.

It’s Always a Good Time to Have a Pizza

Well…ok, this one’s not a pizza myth. But after reading this post are you salivating for some delicious pizza? No worries! TJ’s Take & Bake Pizza will satisfy all your cravings

Dine-in, take out, or order online and experience the superior taste of our pizza for yourself!

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