CLOSE
Original image
istock

Who Invented Deep Dish Pizza?

Original image
istock

April 5 is National Deep Dish Pizza Day. Although some months have passed, you don't need an excuse to indulge in one of Chicago’s favorite foods. But who came up with the idea, anyway? 

Unfortunately, there is no official documentation about the original inventor of the delicacy, so the origin story is largely speculation. What we do know for sure is that the Chicago chain Pizzeria Uno plays an integral part in the story. According to the Chicago Tribune, following a paper trail about the pie's creation leads you back to a 19th century mansion on 29 E. Ohio St. The mansion is now home to Pizzeria Uno. 

Business partners and mansion residents Ike Sewell and Ric Riccardo wanted to open a restaurant. Their first idea was a Mexican establishment, but the trial runs left Riccardo physically ill. Riccardo was Italian, so the duo decided to make pizza their plan B. 

Originally called The Pizzeria, their restaurant opened in 1943 and wanted to serve an Americanized version of pizza that was unique to Chicago. The result was a thick, cake-like pizza pie with gooey cheese and sausage in its center, and sauce on top. 

Of course, Chicagoans had been eating pizza before the birth of deep dish. The first American pizzeria opened in Manhattan in 1905, and enjoyed a boom in popularity shortly after World War II. The food was not uncommon in Chicago during the '40s, but pie from The Pizzeria (which changed its name to Pizzeria Uno in 1955) stood out due to its unique construction, and sheer weight. 

Sewell and Riccardo may be the founders of the restaurant that popularized deep dish, but they probably didn't create the new style of pizza themselves. Neither of them had any cooking experience, so it’s unlikely they were able to concoct an entirely new recipe. 

So who’s the mystery chef behind the Chicago favorite? One strong possibility is Adolpho "Rudy" Malnati, Sr. The Italian-born employee worked as a bartender for Pizzeria Uno. His son, Rudy Malnati Jr. has a 1956 news clipping that refers to his father as the one who established Pizzeria Uno. In 1991, the younger Malnati opened his own pizzeria—the famous Pizano’s. 

Other Pizzeria Uno employees are also suspected of having created the new style; many moved on to make deep dish pizza at other locations. Alice May Redmond, a former cook for Uno’s, eventually went to bake pies at Gino’s East. 

Unfortunately, the world may never know what individual created the Chicago treat. "It's an enigma, wrapped in a pie crust. Every day, it feels a little more lost to history," Jeff Ruby, co-author of Everybody Loves Pizza told the Chicago Tribune.

(Note: This story first ran on April 5, 2015—National Deep Dish Pizza Day!)

Original image
iStock
arrow
Big Questions
What's the Difference Between Vanilla and French Vanilla Ice Cream?
Original image
iStock

While you’re browsing the ice cream aisle, you may find yourself wondering, “What’s so French about French vanilla?” The name may sound a little fancier than just plain ol’ “vanilla,” but it has nothing to do with the origin of the vanilla itself. (Vanilla is a tropical plant that grows near the equator.)

The difference comes down to eggs, as The Kitchn explains. You may have already noticed that French vanilla ice cream tends to have a slightly yellow coloring, while plain vanilla ice cream is more white. That’s because the base of French vanilla ice cream has egg yolks added to it.

The eggs give French vanilla ice cream both a smoother consistency and that subtle yellow color. The taste is a little richer and a little more complex than a regular vanilla, which is made with just milk and cream and is sometimes called “Philadelphia-style vanilla” ice cream.

In an interview with NPR’s All Things Considered in 2010—when Baskin-Robbins decided to eliminate French Vanilla from its ice cream lineup—ice cream industry consultant Bruce Tharp noted that French vanilla ice cream may date back to at least colonial times, when Thomas Jefferson and George Washington both used ice cream recipes that included egg yolks.

Jefferson likely acquired his taste for ice cream during the time he spent in France, and served it to his White House guests several times. His family’s ice cream recipe—which calls for six egg yolks per quart of cream—seems to have originated with his French butler.

But everyone already knew to trust the French with their dairy products, right?

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

Original image
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
arrow
Big Questions
How Many Rings Does Saturn Have?
Original image
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Of all the planets surrounded by rings, Saturn is the most famous. These planetary rings are massive enough that Galileo was able to see them using a simple telescope way back in 1610, though it wasn't until half a century later that another scientist was able to figure out what the "arms" Galileo saw actually were. NASA has since called them "the most recognized characteristic of any world in our solar system."

So how many rings does Saturn have, anyway? If you can see them from your backyard, there must be a lot, right?

Scientists don't know for sure exactly how many rings Saturn has. There are eight main, named ring groups that stretch across 175,000 miles, but there are far more than eight rings. These systems are named with letters of the alphabet, in order of their discovery. (Astronomers have known about ring groups A, B, and C since the 17th century, while others are newer discoveries. (The most recent was just discovered in 2009.)

The rings we can see in images of the planet—even high-resolution images—aren't single rings, per se, but are in fact comprised of thousands of smaller ringlets and can differ a lot in appearance, showing irregular ripples, kinks, and spokes. The chunky particles of ice that make up Saturn's rings vary in size from as small as a speck of dust to as large as a mountain.

While the gaps between Saturn's rings are small, the 26-mile-wide Keeler Gap is large enough to contain multiple moons, albeit very small ones. The largest ring system—the one discovered in 2009—starts 3.7 million miles away from Saturn itself and its material extends another 7.4 million miles out, though it's nearly invisible without the help of an infrared camera.

Researchers are still discovering new rings as well as new insights into the features of Saturn's already-known ring systems. In the early 1980s, NASA's Voyager missions took the first high-resolution images of Saturn and its rings, revealing previously unknown kinks in one of the narrower rings, known as the F ring. In 1997, NASA sent the Cassini orbiter to continue the space agency's study of the ringed planet, leading to the discovery of new rings, so faint that they remained unknown until Cassini's arrival in 2006. Before Cassini is sent to burn up in Saturn's atmosphere in September 2017, it's taking 22 dives through the space between the planet and its rings, bringing back new, up-close revelations about the ring system before the spacecraft dives to its death.

Though it's certainly possible to see Saturn's rings without any fancy equipment, using a low-end telescope at your house, that doesn't mean you always can. It depends on the way the planet is tilted; if you're looking at the rings edge-on, they may look like a flat line or, depending on the magnification, you might not be able to see them at all. However, 2017 happens to be a good year to see the sixth planet, so you're in luck.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

SECTIONS

More from mental floss studios