Although you might assume pizza was handed down to the ancient Romans by the gods themselves, it actually has a very human history.

Pizza’s Upbringing

Pizza got its start in Naples, Italy, during the 1700s and early 1800s. At this time, Naples was a thriving port city that had a large population of poor laborers known as lazzaroni. The lazzaroni did not have the time or the money to eat at fancy restaurants. Like workers today, they needed food that they could eat quickly that wouldn’t cost them an entire day’s salary. Early pizzas, which were little more than flatbread with a few toppings, filled this need. Street vendors and working-class restaurants began to offer a variety of cheap pizzas to go.

Rise to Fame

In 1889, King Umberto I and Queen Margherita visited Naples to celebrate the unification of Italy as a single kingdom. According to legend, the royals were bored with their standard cuisine so they asked to try a variety of the local pizza they had heard about. Naples’ Pizzeria Brandi took up the challenge and created several pizzas to satisfy the royal taste buds. Queen Margherita enjoyed the pizza with mozzarella, tomatoes and basil so much that the topping combination has been known as pizza Margherita ever since.

In those days, the endorsement of royalty would typically cause a nationwide craze for a food, but this did not happen with pizza. It stayed relatively unknown outside of Naples’ borders — at least, in Italy. In America, however, immigrants from Naples were recreating the tastes of home for their fellow countrymen, and it wasn’t long before other working-class immigrants and Americans began to try pizza.

The first documented pizzeria in the United States was Lombardi’s. Lombardi’s opened in 1905 on Spring Street in Manhattan. However, pizza was being sold by unlicensed vendors and being made in homes long before Lombardi’s openedpizza meme its doors. Pizza proved to be a popular food in America, just as it had in Naples, and pizza restaurants began to pop up all over the United States.

Papa John’s Pizza is Born

In 1983, an enterprising young man named John Schnatter began selling pizzas out of a converted closet at the back of his father’s tavern. People went wild for Papa John’s pizzas, allowing Papa John to move out of the tavern into an adjoining space the next year. Today, Papa John’s is one of the top pizza delivery companies in the world, offering the very best pizza in Atlanta.