The Origins of Pizza in America

There’s nothing more annoying than parents who argue with teachers about their kids’ grades. I swore I’d never be one of those people and have lived up to that standard. Except once. That was the pizza incident.

My older son’s 8th grade social studies class were assigned to write an essay from the perspective of one of their ancestors. He wrote as my grandfather, telling his tale of arriving here from Italy. In the story, my grandfather laments that America has lousy pizza.

He did a great job and would have had a perfect score, except his social studies teacher knocked off five points due to the pizza reference.

“Pizza,” she wrote in big red letters, “was invented in America after WW II.”

Pizza was invented in America? WTF?

This prompted a phone call.

“Look,” I said, trying not to sound confrontational, “I’m pretty sure there was pizza here before 1945 — and I’m positive we didn’t invent it.”

Editor’s note: beginning a statement with “look” always sounds confrontational.

She bristled. “No, it was first created by American troops returning from World War II. It was inspired by what they ate in Italy.”

The steam was beginning to build in my head. “Well, according to everything on the internet, you’re wrong.”

“Mr. Madeo. Maybe you shouldn’t believe everything you read on the internet.”

This was eight years ago, back when everything on the internet was true, so I  called the principal. He wisely said he wasn’t interested in getting involved in academic disputes.


Just as I am not one to complain about grades, I am not one to insist on having the last word, so when I saw the teacher at my kid’s 8th grade graduation I was nothing but gracious and humble. “I just wanted to thank you for everything this year. But I still say you’re wrong about the pizza thing.”

She glared at me. I smugly turned away. So there.

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