Sunday, March 27, 2016

Origins: Pizza/Pizza Hut

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Origin of pizza as a word:
The word pizza is Italian for pie, but there is no agreement amongst etymologists as to how the word originated and travelled to Italy. Some theories are that the word came from:
  • the Latin pix meaning “pitch”;
  • the Latin pinsere meaning pound, stamp;
  • the medieval Greek word pitta, meaning cake, pie; or
  • from the German bizzo meaning “bite.”

The word pizza was first documented in 997 AD in Gaeta, Italy.
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Origin of pizza as a food:

Foods similar to pizza have been made since the neolithic age, which covers the period 10,200 – 2,000 BC. Many cultures have flavoured flat breads by adding toppings such as herbs, onions and garlic.


The concept of the modern pizza – a pie or flat bread covered in tomato sauce and mozzarella – is said to have originated in 1889 when baker Raffaele Esposito (whose restaurant in Naples was called the Pizzeria di Pietro) made a patriotic pie topped with mozzarella (white), basil (green), and tomatoes (red), ingredients the colours of the Italian flag. The purpose of the creation was to honour the visiting Queen consort of Italy, Margherita of Savoy. Supposedly the Queen enjoyed the pie, so that it became known as a Margherita.

Pizza first made its appearance in the United States with the arrival of Italian immigrants in the late 19th century and was very popular among large Italian populations in New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Saint Louis. In the late 19th century, pizza was introduced by peddlers who walked up and down the streets with a metal washtub of pizzas on their heads, selling their pizzas at two cents a slice. It was not long until small cafes and groceries began offering pizzas to their Italian American communities. Pizza did not truly not catch on stateside until World War II. Stationed in Italy, many American and European soldiers tasted pizza, and brought an appetite for this dish home with them.
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In 1990 the world's largest pizza was made in South Africa at the Norwood supermarket, the pizza weighed 12.9 tons.
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  • Pizza Hut is an American restaurant chain and international franchise , known for pizza and side dishes. It is a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc, the world's largest restaurant company. 
  • In 2015, the company had more than 6,000 Pizza Hut restaurants in the United States, and 5,139 store locations in 94 other countries and territories worldwide. Pizza Hut has a total of 11,139 branches worldwide.
  • Pizza Hut was founded in June 1958 by two Wichita State University students, Dan and and Frank Carney, as a single location in Wichita, Kansas. 

Dan and Frank Carney

Borrowing $600 from their mother, they opened a pizza restaurant catering students, at the request of a local real estate agent, who had an unrented building and convinced them that pizza would be a promising business. Although they knew little about both pizza and business-making, they learned quickly and the business started to grow. 

The original Pizza Hut building, opened on June 15, 1958 at the corner of Kellogg and Bluff by brothers Frank and Dan Carney, both students at Wichita State University. This photo is from 2004, after the building had been moved to the campus.

  • The first franchise opened in Topeka, Kansas in 1959. 
  • The Pizza Hut in Aggieville, Kansas was the first Pizza Hut to have delivery, a concept unheard of before. 
  • By 1977, Pizza Hut reached 4,000 outlets. 
  • In 1977, brothers decided to sell the business to PepsiCo for over USD 300 million and ventured into other businesses. Frank remained the president and board member of Pizza Hut until 1980.


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