Over the years, pizza has remained economically loyal to Americans. Through-out our toughest times it has delivered satiation to the people, often providing a food pyramid all-inclusive meal in a single slice. But, behind this palatable dish there is a turbulent battle that has been raging on for years.
A great mind in the field of Economics routinely used pizza as his strongest teaching analogy for the value of diminishing returns. Dr. Weber taught Micro and Macro at the Coast Guard Academy in the 90’s and often referenced his favorite pizzeria in New Haven, Connecticut. With each slice consumed, he argued, we diminished our craving from the first remarkably satisfying bite. Though, I can see the logic in his argument and as brilliant an economist as he may have been, I don’t know that he should have used pizza as his focal point. Ask anyone in these United States and they will tell you that pizza is a mainstay, as American as apple pie and baseball. The argument here does not necessarily lay in whether America loves pizza as much as it does with the type that we consider to be the best. Enter the two giants in the ring; New York vs. Chicago.
Overwhelmingly, citizens from each region love their own traditional flavors and exude their support for both passionately. White Sox and Cubs fans alike love deep dish, while Yankees and Mets fans back the traditional version. The first pizzeria in the U.S. started flipping pies in 1905, making the famous NY style was Lombardi’s located now on Spring Street. Serving piping hot slices directly from their grandfathered brick oven, Lombardi’s Pizzeria is simply a must if you find yourself in New York City with a craving for godly gastronomy. NYC is infamous for the classic “something in the water” argument to explain why a slice made from scratch here can’t be matched anywhere outside of the five boroughs.
In NY thin is in and the only thick crust pizza you’ll find New Yorkers eating is a traditional Sicilian, typically served with only cheese and sauce. New York pizza has what can be termed a “foldability” that’s ideal for the fast moving lifestyle of those who choose to live at a New York minute’s pace, while deep dish necessitates the use of a fork and knife making it a sit down meal for the whole family.
A few years after Lombardi’s inception, another culinary experience began to emerge across the pond in the rival city of Chicago. Deep dish pizza was the brainchild of Ike Sewell in 1943, owner of the original Pizzeria Uno. Windy City residents like to argue that the thick and crumbly deep dish is more of a meal with a traditional supreme deep dish layered with onions, green peppers, mushrooms, sausage, pepperoni, and a multitude of other available toppings. Some Pizzeria Uno pies have been weighed in at over ten pounds! Trust me when I say that this “chunk” of heaven is not for the faint of heart, or stomach!
Ever since this food war began years ago many taste tests, competitions, and contests have been held with the ultimate goal of determining who gets the bragging rights for which one actually is America’s favorite pizza. But, like many other interminable debates this one will most assuredly carry on until ovens are antiquated and tomatoes become scarce, causing the inevitable “draw” which is really the only way this battle will ever be over.
The only real victory either side can hope for is converting one gastronomical disciple at a time. And for that I believe the only path is to sample both and figure out for yourself which team you’re going to root for. Of course there are those amongst us (myself included) that simply like the idea that pizza as we know it, no matter the shape or style, exists at all. And so, to the founding fathers of American pizza, my stomach and my wallet thank you.