CLOSE
istock
istock

Who Invented Deep Dish Pizza?

istock
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!)

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Getty Images
arrow
Big Questions
How Are Balloons Chosen for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade?
Getty Images
Getty Images

The balloons for this year's Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade range from the classics like Charlie Brown to more modern characters who have debuted in the past few years, including The Elf On The Shelf. New to the parade this year are Olaf from Disney's Frozen and Chase from Paw Patrol. does the retail giant choose which characters will appear in the lineup?

Balloon characters are chosen in different ways. For example, in 2011, Macy’s requested B. Boy after parade organizers saw the Tim Burton retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art. (The company had been adding a series of art balloons to the parade lineup since 2005, which it called the Blue Sky Gallery.) When it comes to commercial balloons, though, it appears to be all about the Benjamins.

First-time balloons cost at least $190,000—this covers admission into the parade and the cost of balloon construction. After the initial year, companies can expect to pay Macy’s about $90,000 to get a character into the parade lineup. If you consider that the balloons are out for only an hour or so, that’s about $1500 a minute.

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

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Rey Del Rio/Getty Images
arrow
Big Questions
Why Do the Lions and Cowboys Always Play on Thanksgiving?
Rey Del Rio/Getty Images
Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Because it's tradition! But how did this tradition begin?

Every year since 1934, the Detroit Lions have taken the field for a Thanksgiving game, no matter how bad their record has been. It all goes back to when the Lions were still a fairly young franchise. The team started in 1929 in Portsmouth, Ohio, as the Spartans. Portsmouth, while surely a lovely town, wasn't quite big enough to support a pro team in the young NFL. Detroit radio station owner George A. Richards bought the Spartans and moved the team to Detroit in 1934.

Although Richards's new squad was a solid team, they were playing second fiddle in Detroit to the Hank Greenberg-led Tigers, who had gone 101-53 to win the 1934 American League Pennant. In the early weeks of the 1934 season, the biggest crowd the Lions could draw for a game was a relatively paltry 15,000. Desperate for a marketing trick to get Detroit excited about its fledgling football franchise, Richards hit on the idea of playing a game on Thanksgiving. Since Richards's WJR was one of the bigger radio stations in the country, he had considerable clout with his network and convinced NBC to broadcast a Thanksgiving game on 94 stations nationwide.

The move worked brilliantly. The undefeated Chicago Bears rolled into town as defending NFL champions, and since the Lions had only one loss, the winner of the first Thanksgiving game would take the NFL's Western Division. The Lions not only sold out their 26,000-seat stadium, they also had to turn fans away at the gate. Even though the juggernaut Bears won that game, the tradition took hold, and the Lions have been playing on Thanksgiving ever since.

This year, the Lions host the Minnesota Vikings.

HOW 'BOUT THEM COWBOYS?


Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Cowboys, too, jumped on the opportunity to play on Thanksgiving as an extra little bump for their popularity. When the chance to take the field on Thanksgiving arose in 1966, it might not have been a huge benefit for the Cowboys. Sure, the Lions had filled their stadium for their Thanksgiving games, but that was no assurance that Texans would warm to holiday football so quickly.

Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm, though, was something of a marketing genius; among his other achievements was the creation of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.

Schramm saw the Thanksgiving Day game as a great way to get the team some national publicity even as it struggled under young head coach Tom Landry. Schramm signed the Cowboys up for the game even though the NFL was worried that the fans might just not show up—the league guaranteed the team a certain gate revenue in case nobody bought tickets. But the fans showed up in droves, and the team broke its attendance record as 80,259 crammed into the Cotton Bowl. The Cowboys beat the Cleveland Browns 26-14 that day, and a second Thanksgiving pigskin tradition caught hold. Since 1966, the Cowboys have missed having Thanksgiving games only twice.

Dallas will take on the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday.

WHAT'S WITH THE NIGHT GAME?


Patrick Smith/Getty Images

In 2006, because 6-plus hours of holiday football was not sufficient, the NFL added a third game to the Thanksgiving lineup. This game is not assigned to a specific franchise—this year, the Washington Redskins will welcome the New York Giants.

Re-running this 2008 article a few days before the games is our Thanksgiving tradition.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios