The Pizza Joint
The Pizza Joint
  October is National Pizza Month. It was first so designated in 1987.
  Americans eat approximately 100 acres of pizza each day, or 350 slices per second.
  Pizza is a $30 billion per year industry.
  There are approximately 61,269 pizzerias in the United States. (Source: American Business Lists, Omaha, Nebraska.)
  Each man, woman and child in America eats an average of 46 slices (23 pounds) of pizza a year. (source: Packaged Facts, New York)
  Approximately 3 billion pizzas are sold in the U.S. each year.
  Italian food ranks as the most popular ethnic food in America.(Courtesy of the National Restaurant Association)
  According to a recent Gallup Poll, kids between the ages of 3 to 11 prefer pizza over all other food groups for lunch and dinner.
Facts About Toppings
  Pepperoni is America's favorite topping (36 percent of all pizza orders); we eat approximately 251,770,000 pounds per year. Other popular pizza toppings are mushrooms, extra cheese, sausage, green pepper and onion.
  In America, anchovies always rank last on the list of favorite toppings.
  Gourmet toppings are gaining ground in some parts of the country with such toppings as chicken, oysters, chicken, crayfish, dandelions, sprouts, eggplant, Cajun shrimp, artichoke hearts and tuna.
  Pizza lovers are experimenting with gourmet toppings by ordering oysters, chicken, shrimp, eggplant, artichoke hearts, dandelions and tuna. More recent trends include game meats like venison or duck, and Canadian-style bacon.
  Sixty-two percent of Americans prefer meat toppings on their pizza, while 38% prefer vegetarian. (source: Bolla wines)
  Women are twice as likely as men to order vegetable toppings on their pizza. (Source: Bolla wines)
  According to Domino's, some of the more popular international toppings are: pickled ginger, minced mutton and tofu in India, squid and Mayo Jaga (mayonnaise, potato and bacon) in Japan, and green peas in Brazil. In Russia, they serve pizza covered with mockba, which is a combination of sardines, tuna, mackerel, salmon and onions. In France, a popular combo is called the Flambée, with bacon, onion and fresh cream.
  Around the world, toppings vary greatly to reflect regional preferences. In Japan, for instance, eel and squid are favorites. In Pakistan, curry is a big seller. In Russia, red herring is a topping of choice and Australians enjoy shrimp and pineapple on their pies as well as barbecue toppings. Costa Ricans favor coconut. (Courtesy of Numero Uno Pizzeria)
  In the Netherlands, the "Double Dutch" is a favorite, with double cheese, double onions, double beef. (Source: Domino's Pizza)
Pizza History
  Basic pizza most likely began in prehistoric times, with bread cooked on flat, hot stones.
  Roughly 1,000 years ago herb-and-spice-covered circles of baked dough grew exceptionally popular in Naples, Italy. Known as focaccia, these rounds were served as an appetizer or a snack. (Source: Smithsonian)
  Pizza developed in Italy in pre-refrigerator times. After focaccia, its most direct ancestor was "Casa de nanza," which means "take out before." Housewives would pound out dough into a thin crust and place leftovers on to bake. Pizza was a peasant food designed to be eaten without utensils and, like the French crepe and the Mexican taco, was a way to make use of fresh produce available locally and to get rid of leftovers.
  But pizza as we know it could not have evolved until the late 1600s when Old World Europeans overcame their fear of a New World discovery - tomatoes. Native to Peru and Ecuador, a plant which produced yellow or red fruit (later called tomatoes) was introduced to Europe in the early 1500s. Brought back by Conquistadors to Spain, the tomato was thought to be poisonous and was viewed with suspicion. It wasn't until the late 1600s that Europeans began to eat the tomato. (Source: Smithsonian and PIZZA TODAY)
  The peasants of Naples, Italy, who lived mostly off of bread and little else, were the first to add tomatoes to their focaccia bread rounds.
  In 1830 pizza truly began with the opening of the world's first pizzeria. Named Port'Alba, the pizzas were cooked in an oven lined with lava from Mount Vesuvius, a volcano located on the Bay of Naples. (Source: Smithsonian)
  Modern pizza was born in 1889 when Queen Margherita Teresa Giovanni, the consort of Umberto I, king of Italy, visited Naples. Don Raffaele Esposito, who owned a tavern-like place called Pietro Il Pizzaiolo, was asked to prepare a special dish in honor of the Queen's visit. Esposito developed a pizza featuring tomatoes, mozzarella cheese (a never before used ingredient made from the milk of water buffalo) and basil - ingredients bearing the colors red, white and green for the Italian flag. He named it the Margherita Pizza, after the guest of honor. Thus, the modern-day tomato-and-cheese pizza was born. (Source: Smithsonian and PIZZA TODAY)
  Shops in the volcano-devastated city of Pompeii bear the characteristics of a pizzeria.
  Marie Antionette's sister, Marie Carolina, wife of Ferdinand I of Sicily and Naples, had ovens built in the forest so she could enjoy pizza while the Royal Hunting Party feasted on wild ducklings and pigs killed in the hunt.
  The popularity of pizza exploded throughout the country when World War II servicemen returning from Italy began opening pizzerias and raving about that "great Italian dish."
  In 1905, Gennaro Lombardi opened the first licensed American pizzeria, Lombardi's Pizzeria Napoletana, at 53-1/2 Spring Street in New York City. (From The Art of Pizzaiolo, by John Thorn.)
  America is the new pizza renaissance leader in the world and is exporting our technology of pizza production and promotion on an ever-increasing basis.
  Pizza restaurants are opening in such unlikely locations as the Caribbean islands of Curacao and Bonaire; the South Pacific atoll of Palau; and in most Arab countries. The deep-dish pizza was invented in Chicago by pizza entrepreneur Ike Sewell. His restaurant, Pizzeria Uno, is still going strong today.
Facts About Today's Pizza
  Pizza Hut is the largest pizza purveyor in the world, with 12,583 total restaurants and combination delivery/takeout units in the U.S. and over 90 other countries; 6,590 units are company-owned. Pizza Hut generated approximately $7.7 billion in sales in 1996. (Chain Store Guide.)
  Domino's Pizza is the world leader in delivery, with 5,500 stores in 46 international markets. Domino's reached $2.8 billion in sales in 1996. (Chain Store Guide.)
  Papa John's is considered the fastest growing franchise in the country, with 1,160 units generating $613 million in sales in 1996. (Chain Store Guide.)
  Of 31,386 pizza franchise units in the United States, roughly 83 percent (24,381 stores) offer delivery, 91 percent offer takeout, and 51 percent offer dine-in service.
  According to a Pizza Today survey, 61% of independent pizza operations serve alcohol, compared to 69% of chains and 48% of franchises.
  Each year, thousands of people involved in the pizza industry attend Pizza Expo, the world's largest pizza-only trade show. Pizza Expo is held each year in Las Vegas, Nevada.
  Pizza has played a major role in television and in the movies, with appearances in such films as Splendor in the Grass, The French Connection, Mystic Pizza, Do the Right Thing, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Multiplicity, Lover Boy, Nightmare on Elm Street, The Caddy (featuring Dean Martin's song "That's Amore"), Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco, Spaceballs, Toy Story, Delivery Boys, Free Willy III and I Love You to Death.
  Regular thin pizza crust is still the most popular crust, preferred by 61 percent of the population. Thick crust and deep dish tied for second, at 14%. Only 11 percent of the population prefers extra thin. (Source: CREST [Consumer Reports on Eating Share Trends], 1994)
  Three of the top 10 weeks of pizza consumption occur in January. More pizza is consumed during Super Bowl week than any other week of the year. (Source: Kraft Foods, Northfield, Ill.)
  Over the past five years, pizza has outpaced the growth rate of all other food service items, averaging about 11 percent a year and making it the Number 2 item in foodservice (after burgers). (Source: Food Industry News)
  Pizza is the second most popular takeout food (after chicken) among the over-50 market.
  The world's largest pizza was built on October 11, 1987 by Lorenzo Amato and Louis Piancone. The pizza covered 10,000 square feet and measured 140 feet across. It weighed in at 44,457 pounds, consisting of, among other items, 18,174 pounds of flour, 1,103 pounds of water, 6,445 pounds of sauce, 9,375 pounds of cheese and 2,387 pounds of pepperoni. The pie was cut into 94,248 slices and eaten by more than 30,000 spectators at the baking in Havana, Florida.
  In 1994, Domino's Pizza stores in Guatemala attempted a world record for the longest chain of pizza. The chain, reaching 500 meters, was donated to local charities.
Pizza in the News
"Pizza Trail Betrays Car Thieves"
From the SF Chronicle (a true story)
  Police arrest 9 teens in Honda-hungry East Bay ring Peter Fimrite, Chronicle East Bay Bureau.

A gang of pizza-munching, Honda-loving car thieves who cut a swath through the East Bay was sniffed out by police after they left a sloppy trail of clues inside the stolen vehicles. The ring of nine teenagers, all from Oakland, allegedly stole at least 26 Honda Accords in Oakland and in BART stations throughout Contra Costa County and burglarized dozens more over the past two months, until alert investigators noticed a pattern.

The thieves would drive the cars around for a couple of days while munching pizza, strip the vehicles of anything valuable, and then abandon them with boxes inside and half-eaten pizza slices on the seats.

``All the pizza boxes had the name of the establishment on them, but none of them had the tag that comes with a pizza when you buy it,'' said BART police Sergeant Mike Miller. ``Speculation was it was probably someone working in a pizza shop.''

The hunch was right. Investigators with the BART and Oakland police departments followed the trail to its source - an Oakland pizza parlor with a 17-year-old suspected car thief working the counter.

It was a key factor in the eventual arrest of eight other suspects, all 16 and 17 years old, between September 25 and October4. They were all booked on charges of auto theft.

The pizza boxes weren't the only clue. BART investigators and Oakland police also found a scrap of paper with a name on it inside a school book left in one of the cars. Detectives tracked the name to Skyline High School in Oakland, where they noticed a stolen Honda Accord sitting in the parking lot.

A 16-year-old boy eventually hopped in the car - and into the hands of police. He had purchased a Club device to protect the car from theft.
The FBI and Pizza
  The following is a direct quote from the Center for Strategic and International Studies report on GLOBAL ORGANIZED CRIME; the author who introduces the story swears it's true.

FBI agents conducted a raid of a psychiatric hospital in San Diego that was under investigation for medical insurance fraud. After hours of reviewing thousands of medical records, the dozens of agents had worked up quite an appetite. The agent in charge of the investigation called a nearby pizza parlor with delivery service to order a quick dinner for his colleagues.

The following telephone conversation took place and was recorded by the FBI because they were taping all conversations at the hospital.

Agent: Hello. I would like to order 19 large pizzas and 67 cans of soda.

Pizza Man: And where would you like them delivered?

Agent: We're over at the psychiatric hospital.

Pizza Man: The psychiatric hospital?

Agent: That's right. I'm an FBI agent.

Pizza Man: You're an FBI agent?

Agent: That's correct. Just about everybody here is.

Pizza Man: And you're at the psychiatric hospital?

Agent: That's correct. And make sure you don't go through the front doors. We have them locked. You will have to go around to the back to the service entrance to deliver the pizzas.

Pizza Man: And you say you're all FBI agents?

Agent: That's right. How soon can you have them here?

Pizza Man: And everyone at the psychiatric hospital is an FBI agent?

Agent: That's right. We've been here all day and we're starving.

Pizza Man: How are you going to pay for all of this?

Agent: I have my checkbook right here.

Pizza Man: And you're all FBI agents?

Agent: That's right. Everyone here is an FBI agent. Can you remember to bring the pizzas and sodas to the service  entrance in the rear? We have the front doors locked.

Pizza Man: I don't think so.

Agent: Click!
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