The Superior Style Pizza

When it comes to the cheesy debate, New York style comes out on top

Let’s face it, one of the most popular dishes in the world is pizza. It’s a food favored by millions of people worldwide. It’s no surprise that this food made its way to the United States, where to this day, controversy has erupted. The United States is home to most of this contention, mainly because two of its major cities, New York and Chicago, both claim they have the best pizza.

Many people prefer the pizza favored in their region, but when it comes down to it, the majority favor New York style pizza, because frankly, it’s better than Chicago pizza in every way.

Before the whole deep dish-thin crust style pizza debate can be discussed, it’s crucial to understand a brief history of pizza, and how it came to the United States. Despite popular belief, it is unknown if pizza was created in Italy, but it is known that early forms of pizza were made by ancient Greeks, Egyptians, and Romans, which simply involved cooking flat bread in mud ovens.

Of course, we know that it reached Italy soon enough, whether or not pizza did originate there. That’s even reflected in the word “pizza” itself, which literally means “pie”. This form of pizza was adopted by Italians and worked on for the next several hundred years.

Pizza was incredibly popular in Europe for the longest time, but before the 1950s, it was extremely uncommon in America. This changed after American soldiers returned home from Italy after World War II, bringing some pizza with them, and the popularity of pizza skyrocketed. Celebrities like Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin promoted pizza, which also caused its popularity to increase. After pizza hit America, more and more styles developed, thousands of people opening pizza restaurants each day, each one having their own signature style.

The way pizzerias were making their pizzas also reflected the area around them. For example, pizza created in the New York area was designed with a light, thin-crust feel, so people could carry it on the go. As put by pizza.com, New York style pizza is “a hand-held food that was originally designed to be eaten in a closed pizza sandwich mode that makes it handy to eat on the run.”

The folks in the Midwest, especially in the Chicago area, decided that pizza was too good to be a fast meal, like those pesky New Yorkers. They developed pizza that is “a full meal and will usually require a plate and utensils to eat.” This was the basis which led to today’s thin crust-vs-deep dish-style pizza debate, or the New York-vs-Chicago-style pizza debate.

In the present day, this battle still prevails. It’s no surprise that New York style pizza beats out Chicago style pizza in more ways than one. Besides New York being a better city than Chicago in general, it’s obvious that thin crust dominates deep dish. Of course, most New Yorkers, city and state residents, share this viewpoint, and the Chicagoans and most of the Midwest share beliefs that their pizza is superior.

But statistics show that more Americans prefer New York style pizza, which is a good choice. According to a study done by Factual Blog, which queried all restaurants in the United States with “New York” and “Chicago” in their names, New York style claimed about 16% more restaurants than did Chicago style. They created a map of the United States highlighting the states that prefer New York pizza, and the states that prefer Chicago pizza.

Looking at this map, “New York style seems to prevail in the coastal and southern states, while Chicago style holds fast in the middle of the country” as stated by Factual. The map shows that 27 states and Washington, D.C. prefer thin crust, compared to the 21 which prefer deep dish. It’s also worth noting that based on this study, all states on the East Coast prefer thin crust except Massachusetts–most likely due to the deep rivalry between New York and Boston–and New Hampshire, which, like South Dakota, tied (sigh).

Additionally, adding up the populations of the states within the two groups results in these numbers: approximately 214,001,050 Americans prefer thin crust (blue states), compared to the 101,743,194 Americans who prefer deep dish (red states). That means approximately 112,257,856 more Americans prefer thin crust, a 62% difference.

At least we know 62% of Americans have working taste buds.

If one goes to Chicago and declares the truth, that New York style pizza trumps Chicago style pizza, they’ll probably be blasted with hate. This also will occur if one goes to New York and declares Chicago style pizza is better (but that’s an obvious lie).

According to The Slice, no restaurant from Chicago made it into [TripAdvisor’s] top 10 pizza places in the United States, a pathetic feat. As well, Factual Blog, who made that pizza map we discussed earlier, also conducted a survey involving their employees, and 61% preferred thin crust over deep dish.

Even some famous voices have opinions about this matter, and they’re right. The late Justice Antonin Scalia claimed that Chicago pizza “shouldn’t be called pizza”, despite having served on the Seventh Circuit of the US Court of Appeals, based in Chicago. Comedian Jon Stewart stated that Chicago pizza is “an above ground marinara swimming pool for rats”. Even the New York Post called deep dish pizza “bizarre” and a “boiling monstrosity”.

Hey, they ain’t wrong.

In the end, it all comes down to personal preference, what region or state you‘re from, and what style of pizza you’re are used to traditionally. If you haven’t already been able to tell, I’m from New York, and have tasted pizza from all over the city. But I’ve also been to Chicago and tasted plenty of deep dish pizza, so I have experience in both fields.

But facts and statistics show that more Americans prefer New York style pizza over Chicago style pizza. Surely, people did not expect strong rivalries such as this to develop when the pizza first arrived in the United States. But, as we know, it did, and more and more people every day are coming to realize that New York pizza beats out Chicago pizza in almost every way possible.

What a delicious achievement.

Chris is a writer and publisher who travels America, and loves doing it. He also loves pizza, video games, and sports, and can tell you a thing or two about each. Follow him on Medium to be informed of new articles.

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Chris K

Native New Yorker. Pizza, Sports, Games, Life. Writing about whatever my heart desires. Follow me here and on Twitter for more articles!