Since its culinary “coming out” in the post-WWII years, the traditional Neapolitan pizza – a thin-crusted delight with a light topping of tomato sauce and cheese – has been adulterated by every culture that has touched it to the point where nowadays the word “pizza” is synonymous with “garbage pile.”
Gennaro Lombardi brought a simple pie to America in 1905, and the “improvements” and “innovations” began almost immediately. Gennaro himself made the first “improvements” out of necessity; rather than constructing his pizzas – actually, pizze if you want to be Italian about it – in the old-world way, he had to adapt to the ingredients available to him. New York was not noted for its roaming herds of water-buffalo, so the traditional mozzarella di bufala had to be replaced by a fior di latte, a cow's milk cheese that America has come to call “mozzarella.”
Then came the polluters and blasphemers, starting with Texas-athlete-turned-Chicago-salesman Ike Sewell who arbitrarily decided that pizza needed to be Texas-sized, so he proceeded to throw enormous proportions of traditional pizza ingredients into a casserole. He called it “Chicago Deep Dish Pizza.”
A bunch of California guys like Wolfgang Puck and California Pizza Kitchen founders Rick Rosenfield and Larry Flax further “innovated” pizza by throwing anything remotely edible onto a pizza crust.
Of course, you have to give a lot of credit to a little venture started by a couple of brothers out in Kansas. When it comes to “garbage pizza,” Pizza Hut is the most egregious “innovator” of them all. “Let's see how much meat we can put on a 'meat lover's'.” “We'll denude a garden and call it a 'Supreme'.” “There's no such thing as 'too much cheese'.” Extra cheese! Extra meat! Extra vegetables! Extra! Extra! Extra! Obesity epidemic? Perish the thought!
And now comes the UK branch of Pizza Hut with a new wretched excess; the “Hot-Dog Stuffed-Crust Pizza.” Uh-huh, that's right. Some brainiac in the R&D department figured that wrapping a hot dog in pizza dough was a good thing. And if you're making “pigs-in-a-blanket,” it is. Not so much, though, when it comes to pizza. And they'll even throw in a FREE mustard drizzle! Woo-hoo! Mustard on pizza! Now there's innovation that would make Gennaro Lombardi weep! Or spin in his grave.
Wait a minute! Wait a minute! Don't they make cheese-stuffed hot-dogs? Try this one out, Pizza Hut; you take the cheese-stuffed crust you already offer and stuff it with a cheese-stuffed hot-dog! Then you do a special offer with a meat-lover's variety with extra cheese! Every cardiologist on the planet would be buying stock in your company!
It all makes one little Italian immigrant with some flatbread, some tomatoes, and a little cheese, all wrapped in a paper bundle tied with string look somehow lonely and forlorn, doesn't it?