Everyone agrees, pepperoni is the most popular pizza topping


Forget just plain cheese, pepperoni is the most popular pizza topping. But, why do people crave this purely American pizza topping?

Putting aside the deep dish, New York slice or even thin crust debate, pizza is one of these most popular comfort foods. As the gooey, melted cheese beckons, very few people can resist a hot, fresh pizza from the oven. But, plain cheese pizza is missing a key ingredient. Pepperoni is the most popular pizza topping.

Pizza, and its many forms, has been around for centuries. But, pepperoni, the favorite pizza topping, is a purely American invention. While no person has claimed credit for the invention, people believe that this spicy, cured sausage began in the 1900s. As Italian American pizza shops and butchers become popular, pepperoni became popular. But, like chicken parmesan, pepperoni is strictly an American invention.

(Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for the New York Culinary Experience )

Pepperoni is usually a combination of beef and pork. The blended meat is combined with spices, like fennel, garlic and peppers. The cured meat is stuffed into casing and cured. While pepperoni has similarities to salami, it is its own, unique, distinct flavor.

But, why do at least a third of pizza fans prefer pepperoni on their pizzas? Pepperoni offers a slightly spicy, meaty flavor to the dough, sauce, cheese combination. The spice often balances the sweetness in the tomato sauce. Also, it complements the fat in the cheese. Combined, the bite is completely satisfying.

Even in today’s complex food culture, pepperoni remains a top choice. Sausage, vegetables and combination pizzas have their place in the pizza world. Sausage is the second most popular topping but it is far behind pepperoni. But, no topping is ready to challenge the all-time favorite.

While some artisan pizza shops look at elevated toppings, people still look for traditional, proven toppings. The occasional break from the norm can be entertaining. From buffalo chicken to even a farm fresh egg, the inventive toppings can challenge people’s perspective on pizza. True, prosciutto and fig is a delicious combination, but the majority of consumers would prefer pepperoni.

The craving could go back to childhood. When many of us were growing up, elevated pizza toppings or crazy combinations wouldn’t make any menu. The most daring toppings could have been pineapple or anchovies. Grabbing a slice of pepperoni pizza brings people back to a simpler time and offers a sense of comfort.

Many families had the Friday night, pizza night tradition. As kids got older, plain cheese was replaced with the pepperoni toppings. Who didn’t fight over the extra piece of pepperoni that was left in the pizza box? That little morsel of goodness could make any bad week seem a little brighter.

Next: What's the most popular cheese on a cheeseburger?

Are you craving a pizza yet? Succumb to the pepperoni pizza craving and rediscover why pepperoni is the most popular pizza topping.