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National Pizza with the Works Except Anchovies Day

Saying you want "the works" on a pizza means that you want it to have a lot of toppings. At a pizzeria, this could mean you want all the toppings that the restaurant has, or it could mean that you want a pizza they sell called "the works," which happens to have a lot of toppings. Today is dedicated to eating these pizzas, except there is one caveat: you can't have any anchovies on them!

Anchovies are a small fish that are similar to a herring. When packaged for human consumption, they are usually packed in oil and canned. They are mainly then used on pizzas or in salads. But, most anchovies end up as animal food or bait, or are reduced to oil.

Why aren't anchovies allowed on pizza today? There doesn't seem to be much middle ground with regards to anchovies on pizzas. People either love them or hate them, and mainly they are known for being hated. Anchovies have a very fishy taste that tends to take over entire pizzas that they are put on, plus they tend to be extremely salty. What if you were celebrating the "works pizza" holiday and were sharing a pizza with a friend? What if they hated anchovies and didn't want any? If you put some on your half, your friend would probably still have to deal with the fish flavor.

Pie-shaped flatbreads with toppings were first eaten in Naples in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. At the time, this coastal city was not part of Italy, but its own kingdom. The working poor, or lazzaroni, lived outside or in small homes, and needed cheap food. Pizza consisted of flatbread with toppings such as tomatoes, garlic, cheese, and oil, and it was sold by street vendors and informal restaurants, and eaten for any meal. Another popular topping at the time was anchovies. This may give us a clue as to why they are still an option at pizzerias today.

Pizza did not gain a foothold in Italy at the time, and it was in the United States, where Neapolitans immigrated to, that pizza gained in popularity. The first pizzeria in the United States was Lombardi's, which was started in New York City in 1905. Lombardi's is still in business, and although it is in a new location, the original oven is still in use. Neapolitans brought pizza to many other cities, including Trenton, New Haven, St. Louis, Chicago, and Boston. Pizza became popular all over the country, especially following World War II. Many styles of crusts and different toppings became popular in different regions. Eventually, pizza made its way back to Italy, as well as to other parts of the world.

How to Observe

Order a "works" pizza at a pizzeria or have one at home. There are many toppings you could pile on your pizza; just don't use any anchovies!

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