Right up there with baseball and apple pie, pizza has become an American icon, no longer just reserved for college students on a budget – but a family favorite across the country. Whether it's piled high with pepperoni and mozzarella or loaded with pineapples and ham, pizza is one of the most popular foods in the United States. Amazingly, Americans eat an average of around 350 slices of pizza every second, amounting to around one hundred acres each day. In fact, the average man, woman and child in our country each eat around twenty-three pounds of the cheesy stuff each year.

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History. Pizza may not be a strictly Italian offering; unleavened bread that was seasoned with olive oil and spices was on the menu many years before in Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. The familiar pizza that is served up at your local pizzeria or out of your own freezer is akin to the pies that were first baked up in Naples, Italy in the latter part of the 19th century by baker Raffaele Esposito who concocted the dish for royal guests. The ingredients for Esposito's original pizza pie were inspired by the red, white and green colors of the Italian flag and are represented through the colors of the tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. It was Italian monarch King Umberto and his Queen Margherita whom were the esteemed dinner guests; the two royals were so impressed by the dish that they went on to spread the word about it to others, and thus a food phenomenon was born. It did not take that long for pizza to arrive in the U.S. as Italian immigrants begun to settle in Chicago and New York and established small restaurants and cafes that served pizza in the early part of the twentieth century. Soldiers returning from WWII who had served in Italy and developed a taste for the beloved pie helped to spur on the popularity of pizza in the U.S. That popularity begun to grow throughout the 20th century, and now 94% of all Americans eat pizza regularly.

Toppings. The toppings of the pizza are arguably its biggest selling point. In the United States, pepperoni is considered to be the most popular topping, accounting for around 1/3rd of all pizza orders at restaurants that serve pizza; in fact, over ¼ of a million pounds of pepperoni is used on pizza in our country each year. Additional toppings of choice include Canadian bacon, green pepper, ham, Italian sausage, mushrooms, onion, pineapple and of course, extra cheese. And while the majority of folks prefer meat on their pizzas, around 1/3rd of all pizzas are ordered with vegetarian only toppings. For those with a taste for the more exotic, everything from oysters to Cajun shrimp has also been offered up for pizza toppings in gourmet pizzerias around the country. Around the world, pizza toppings can range from eel and squid in Japan to green peas in Brazil. Sardines and onions are favorite pizza toppings in Russia while in Costa Rica, coconut is commonly used as a topping .

Staying Power. Pizza is so popular that the month of October has been dubbed as National Pizza Month in the United States since 1987 which stands as a testimony to the staying power of pizza. There are around 69,000 pizza eateries doing business in the U.S. and selling about three billion pizzas each year; this makes pizza a thirty billion dollar per year industry. This represents nearly 1/5th of all restaurants in the country and accounts for around ten percent of all food service sales.