It’s not known exactly who was the first person to slap toppings on a flatbread and eat it, but whoever that was, modern humans owe them a debt of gratitude.
From those humble beginnings came one of today’s most popular foods — pizza.
International Pizza Day is celebrated on Feb. 9 every year, so let’s explore data and statistics to help us understand just how popular this Italian dish has become.
When humans first started eating pizza, they would never have imagined that one day we’d get pizzas delivered to our homes via self-driving cars.
Primitive forms of pizza have been eaten by humans since ancient times, but let’s look at some not-so-ancient history.
Pizza as we know it has been around since at least the 1700s and likely originated in ancient times (History.com).
Residents of Italy’s Campania region are believed to be the first to eat something very similar to what we call pizza today, and this trend started in Naples in the 18th century.
At that time, the dish consisted of flatbreads with various toppings.
In pizza’s early days, favored toppings included tomatoes, cheese, garlic and anchovies (History.com).
Pizza became popular in the United States starting in the 19th century thanks to Neapolitan immigrants, but the dish didn’t spread to the remainder of Italy until the mid-20th century (History.com).
1905: Date of the opening of the United States’ first pizzeria, Lombardi’s New York City. Its founder, Gennaro Lombardi, is largely credited with innovating New York-style pizza.
Pizza today is largely driven by chains, but many of them have a long lineage. Here’s when the three oldest major pizza chains were founded:
Pizza Industry & Global Markets
People all over the world love pizza, and both the U.S. and global markets are incredibly lucrative and growing. Let’s explore details about the industry and the global pizza market.
Today, the global pizza market has annual sales estimated at nearly $145 billion.
Outside of Europe, North America has the largest pizza market in the world (Pizza Magazine).
A major expansion of American pizza chains is well underway across the world, as three of the biggest U.S. chains look to add to their already large global footprint.
For instance, Pizza Hut and Domino’s each have more than 10,000 restaurants outside the U.S., and they are both expanding internationally, particularly in China.
Planned 2019 growth in China according to Pizza Magazine.
Pizza Hut: 1,000
Papa John’s: 50
Pizza is consumed all over the world, but when it comes to interest as measured by Google searches, outside of the U.S., Canada has the highest interest level.
Pizza restaurants employ more than 1 million people in the U.S (IBISWorld).
Pizza is a popular food, but it can be a tough business, even in Italy, the ancestral home of pizza, where an estimated 50% of pizzerias close within their first five years (Pizza Magazine).
About 13 million pizzas are sold on a typical Super Bowl Sunday, which is the second-largest food consumption day of the year, behind only Thanksgiving.
Domino’s estimates that the Super Bowl provides a 40% bump in sales compared to an average Sunday.
Pizza Consumption in the U.S. (by State)
About 1 in 8 Americans eat pizza on a typical day, but there are some parts of the country in which pizza is more popular and makes for much better business.
On a typical day in the U.S., nearly 15% of Americans eat pizza. 1 in 4 boys between ages 6 and 19 eat pizza on an average day.
Young people are most likely to eat pizza on a typical day, and males are more likely than females to enjoy a slice.
Children are slightly more likely to eat pizza for lunch (44%) than dinner (42%), but 59% of adults consumed pizza for dinner compared to 28% for lunch.
There are about 77,000 pizzerias in the United States today.
The American state with the highest ratio of pizza joints is Pennsylvania, it has the highest concentration of pizza restaurants, 3.63 per 10,000 people, and Hawaii has the lowest, 1.18 per 10,000 people.
The American city with the highest ratio of pizza joints is Orlando, Florida, which is a major tourist destination thanks to the presence of DisneyWorld.
Orlando has 21.6 restaurants per 100,000 residents.
How We Eat It
Pepperoni, sausage, cheese, pineapple, anchovies: We all agree pizza is great, but we don’t necessarily align when it comes to what goes into making a delicious slice.
Pepperoni is the most popular pizza topping in the United States, and half of respondents in a YouGov survey said it was in their top three favorites.
The regular crust is the most popular crust type in the U.S. (33%), but the thin crust is not far behind (29%). About 10% say deep-dish pizza is their preferred type. But these preferences vary depending on the region.
While the YouGov study reported that Pepperoni is the most popular topping in the US, the real-time data on Google Trends indicates that the vegan pizza trend is on the rise with mushroom, veggie, pineapple pizza being the popular trend in more than 40 states.
The world’s longest pizza measured more than 6,300 feet, was made using 17,700 pounds of dough and 5,000 pounds of tomato sauce.
It was topped with 3,900 pounds of mozzarella cheese (Guinness World Records).
Not all pizza is delivery, of course, and frozen pizza is one of the most popular frozen foods, according to Google search volume, along with vegetables and spinach.
Pizza Spending Statistics
Like any food, pizza can come with a high price tag or a low one depending on how it’s made, what’s on it and where you get it.
But you might be surprised to find out that the most expensive pizza in the world could require you to max out your credit cards.
The world’s most expensive pizza can be had in Salerno, Sicily, for the bargain price of $9,200.
With dough made from organic Arabian flour and piled with three types of caviar, be sure to order ahead, as the pizza takes 72 hours to prepare (RenatoViola).
Typical prices for a cheese pizza in the U.S. range from $7.25 for a medium pie in Alaska to $14 in North Dakota for a large plain pizza.
Buffalo, New York has the highest median price for a regular large pizza among American cities, $14.79, while they’re cheapest in Lexington, Kentucky ($5.99).
Pizza Industry Wages & Tips
Pizza cooks typically make higher hourly wages than other employees, except for managers.
Experts say people should tip at least $3 for pizza delivery on orders that are $20 or less; for more expensive orders, the tip should be in the 10%-15% range and no less than $5.
Americans are spending less on pizza delivery, with the total spent falling in 2018 to $9.8 billion from a high of $12.1 billion in 2006.
The world’s largest pizza delivery consisted of 30,000 pizzas delivered via the DHL delivery service to American military personnel deployed to Afghanistan so they could celebrate Independence Day in 2012.
Hand-tossed, deep-dish, thin-crust, gluten-free. Chicago vs. New York. Anchovies or pineapple. Regardless of how we prefer to consume it, it’s not hard to understand why pizza is beloved and shows no signs of going stale.