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Ancient origin is unclear, but thank GIs for rise of frozen pies.

Far and wide, almost everybody who isn't lactose intolerant loves it. The international appeal of pizza has seen the basic dough crust, tomato sauce and cheese product evolve to be embellished with lengthening list of toppings ranging from sausage and peppers to pepperoni, hamburger, olives, bacon, chicken, anchovies, tuna and shrimp. And the cheese need not necessarily be mozzarella. Muenster is just fine in some quarters, as is cheddar, Monterey jack and fontina in others.

While some food historians trace the roots of pizza to Egyptian bread, others credit matzoh brought back to Italy by Roman legionnaires stationed in Jerusalem as the basis for today's multi-billion dollar international pizza business. Peasants in Naples, Italy, are believed to have been the first people to bulk up flattened bread dough and cheese with tomatoes. Tiffs was a bold culinary breakthrough, since tomatoes at the time were shunned by many as the "devil's fruit."

Albert Grande, in celebrating the "History of Pizza" at his Pizzatherapy.com web site, states: "Pizza, as we know it, is credited to one Raffaele Esposito of Naples. In 1889, to honor a visit by King Umberto I and Queen Margherita, he created a special pizza which resembled the Italian flag. It consisted of basil (green), mozzarella (white), and tomatoes (red). This dish set the standard for our modern day pizza. This patriotic pizza was an instant success with the King and Queen, as well as his other patrons. He named this pizza the Margherita, in honor of the Queen."

In the New World, Italian-Americans introduced the concept on the East Coast of the USA in earnest during the early 1900s. By 1905, Gennaro Lombardi opened what is thought to trove been the first American pizzeria in New York City, featuring a coal oven-baked pizza made according to a recipe he brought from Naples.

The troops of Caesar may well have had a hand 1,000 years ago in bringing to Europe the elements that evolved into foccacia, and which ultimately became pizza. But there can be no doubt that it was American GIs returning from the Italian campaign after World War II who lit the fire for today's hot pizza business in the USA.

E.W. Williams, the founder and first editor and publisher of Quick Frozen. Foods International magazine, predicted the boom. Not long after the breakout of peace in 1945, he observed: "The demand from close to 10 million service men and women who will be released or have been discharged, is a factor to be reckoned. Most ex-servicemen are strong in their condemnation of dehydrated foods and many are not partial to canned goods. As one ex-soldier said: 'It's time for a change ... We want frozen foods'."

Roman Ravioli, Inc. wasted no time in cashing in on the GIs' favor for Italian flavor; as the Garfield, New Jersey-based company rolled out frozen Roman Pizza Pies in the late 1940s. By 1950 they were being advertised on both radio and television.

But it was William Mundy who made frozen pizza popular from coast to coast. Williams, in his 1963 book entitled Frozen Foods: Biography of an Industry, singled him out, commenting: "American Foods' Chef Boy-Ar-Dee line of Italian specialities was headed by pizza. With his (Mandy's) extensive background in marketing acquired "after many years at Birds Eye, he was able to make Chef Boy-At-Dee the main nationally distributed pizza."
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Title Annotation:Frozen Foods in North America
Comment:Ancient origin is unclear, but thank GIs for rise of frozen pies.(Frozen Foods in North America)
Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2003
Words:563
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