Mind-Blowing Facts About Pizza Delivery (U.S.)
The world thinks that apple pie is the great American food. That might be true, but the food that drives hungry U.S. citizens isn’t any dessert. It’s pizza! One study indicated that at least four in ten Americans eat pizza at least once a week. That averages out to about 350 slices of pizza consumed every second! Pizza is baked-in to the American consciousness, and it’s popular in every major U.S. city.
What’s the most satisfying way to enjoy pizza? In your own home after a delivery driver drops off a piping-hot pie at your front door, of course. Pizza delivery has a history as fascinating as the food itself. From its origins in the 1880s to the first trip to outer space, the story of pizza delivery is filled with amazing little tidbits. Here’s a few of them!
The First Delivery
Though pizza restaurants throughout the United States perfected pizza delivery, they didn’t invent it. That honor goes to Italian Queen Margherita. While visiting the Italian city of Naples in 1889, the queen requested a sample of a dish beloved among the locals. The errand fell to prized pizza maker Raffaele Esposito. He delivered the pizza without issue and became known as the inventor of the modern pizza pie—and, by extension, the first pizza delivery service.
’30 Minutes or Less’ is Dangerous
In the early 1990s, Domino’s Pizza made one of the most famous deals in pizza history: at your door in 30 minutes or less, or it’s free. Unfortunately, it’s a marketing campaign that was too good to be true. To get those pies to their destination on time, pizza delivery drivers resorted to reckless behavior on the roads. A series of lawsuits in 1993 forced Domino’s to drop the deal from its national platform. But, despite all the controversy, some pizza joints around the world still honor this dubious deal.
A Potent Weapon in Espionage...
Few things are more harmless or more unassuming than a pizza box, right? That’s what the team at the United States Military Intelligence Unit thought. In the mid-1960s, these government agents hid minute surveillance devices in pizza deliveries in an attempt to surveil journalists and politicians. Talk about sneaky!
...And Political Support...
In 1991, during the attempted coup of Russian leader Boris Yeltsin, restaurants throughout Moscow shut down as tanks turned up on city streets. Not dissuaded, the valiant employees of Moscow’s two Pizza Huts remained open.
The hard-working employees of these Pizza Hut franchises went above the call of duty when they delivered an order of 300 pizzas, 20 cases of Pepsi, and massive amounts of coffee to the members of the Soviet Union’s Parliament. Managers even slept at the restaurants overnight “to make sure a tank didn’t back into the windows.”
...And Crime Prevention
In the mid-to-late 1980s, a serial killer called the “Grim Sleeper” terrorized the people of Los Angeles. Then, in 1988, he stopped. He remained dormant for years, until, in 2007, investigators discovered the body of a woman named Janecia Peters.
A new investigation led police to Lonnie David Franklin, Jr. Once they had their suspect, investigators waited patiently for a pizza delivery to arrive at Franklin’s home. Then, they analyzed the DNA from a discarded slice and used the findings to connect Franklin to at least ten murders!
Computers Get a Taste for Pizza
In 1974, a group of researchers at Michigan State were hard at work in the Artificial Language Laboratory. The focus of their effort was a then-state-of-the-art speaking computer. To test the effectiveness of their machine, they asked the computer to make a call. Where? To order a pepperoni, ham, sausage and mushroom pizza from a nearby pizza parlor, of course. It was the first “online” pizza order.
Famous Delivery Boys
Hollywood has a long history of famous people who first made ends meet working in the service industry. Los Angelenos and New Yorkers ordering pizza over the last several decades might have unknowingly met Friday Night Lights creator Peter Berg, action star Jean-Claude Van Damme, and even legendary comedian Bill Murray—all of whom were pizza delivery drivers in their day. Too bad they didn’t get to use the best pizza delivery bags!
The Pizza Underground
He may not have the same following as he did when he starred in Home Alone, but Macaulay Culkin remains artistically active. Between acting gigs, he’s an avid musician. In 2013, he even started a band devoted to two of his favorite things: the 1960s folk-rock group The Velvet Underground and pizza. Dubbed the Pizza Underground, the group put out repurposed Velvet Underground riffs to write musical odes to pizza. The title of one such ballad is, I’m Waiting for the Delivery Man. Aren’t we all?
Breaking into the Stratosphere
Wherever there are people, there are people who love pizza. Understanding this fundamental truth, the people at Pizza Hut delivered a pie to the astronauts aboard the International Space Station. In all, the Russian Space Agency spent more than a million dollars to send a six-inch salami pizza to a hungry cosmonaut. Still, it stands as the first pizza delivery to outer space.
The Turtles Started Without Loving Pizza
When the comic debuted, the four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were far from the light-hearted heroes they would become. The satirical comic had a much darker tone. And no pizza. Then they decided to adapt the comic series into a cartoon show in 1987. To lighten up the feel of the brooding antiheroes, the animated series developers transformed the characters into bright, happy, pizza-loving turtles. Tricking pizza delivery people out of their pie became a running gag throughout the series.
Super Bowl Sunday Wins
When many U.S. residents picture a Super Bowl Party, their mind immediately turns to piles of nachos and Buffalo wings. Those are terrific options, but they pale in comparison to the preferred Super Bowl meal: delivered pizza.
According to retailers, Super Bowl Sunday is hands-down the most popular night of the year for delivery pizza. Halloween, Thanksgiving, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day round out the top five. You can’t celebrate without pizza!
A Tradition to Sink Your Teeth Into
In 1912, Papa’s Tomato Pies opened its doors in Trenton, New Jersey. While there might be plenty of pizzerias dotting the eastern United States, Papa’s was the first. They remain the oldest continuously family-owned pizzeria in the United States. And, they still offer delivery to customers seven days a week.
These are just some of the mind-blowing facts about pizza delivery and the history of this American-favorite meal. As time trudges forward, it’s only a matter of time before pizza collects even more accolades and cements itself into new chapters of American history.