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National Cheese Pizza Day

National Cheese Pizza Day is dedicated to the pie shaped flatbread with toppings, first eaten in Naples in the late 18th and early 19th 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, oil, or anchovies, and it was sold by street vendors and informal restaurants, and eaten for any meal. Naples became part of Italy in 1861, and in 1889, Queen Margherita and King Umberto visited Naples and tried pizza. Legend has it that she loved mozzarella pizza, which included mozzarella cheese, red tomatoes, and green basil—the colors of the Italian flag. The pizza then took her namesake. But, pizza didn't end up becoming popular in the rest of Italy until the 1940's.

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, although it is in a new location, but 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 National Cheese Pizza Day

The day should be celebrated by eating cheese pizza! Visit one of the best pizzerias in the United States or make your own pizza. You could also spending the day learning more about cheese, or explore the United States Pizza Museum website.

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