Tuesday, October 12, 2010

That's Amore

October is National Pizza Month. Can you think of a better way to honor the Italian pie than with a post all about pizza? Let's take a look at how this staple of the American diet has evolved throughout the years and the many different options you can find today in your grocer's freezer.

In the 1960s, business owners Rose and Jim Totino branched out from their local pizza shop in Minneapolis to try their hand at frozen pizza. Their idea was to turn flavorless, hard frozen pizza crusts into flaky, delicious meals people could cook at home. Today, the Totino's line of pizza is owned by General Mills and is best known for its pizza rolls.

Tombstone Pizza came along in 1962. The pizza's odd name comes from its days in "The Tombstone Tap," a bar located across from a graveyard in Medford, Wisconsin. Nestlé USA now distributes the frozen pizza, which is available in 12 flavors and unique options like cheese stuffed and garlic bread crusts.

Along with these brands, Stouffer's dominated the frozen pizza category with its French Bread Pizza varieties for a long time. The market changed greatly, however, in 1995 when Kraft introduced its DiGiorno line of pizzas, designed to rise in your oven and taste more like delivery pizza. (Nestlé acquired Kraft Foods' frozen pizza business earlier this year for $3.7 billion.) The Schwan Food Company followed suit with its line of naturally rising pizza, Freschetta, shortly thereafter.

Today, consumers can find everything from thin to focaccia crust frozen pizzas to pre-made Boboli pizza crusts and refrigerated Pillsbury pizza dough. A number of restaurants now also sell their pies at the grocery store, including the signature deep dish of Uno Chicago Grill and the fresh, sophisticated tastes of California Pizza Kitchen.

Revenues from the frozen pizza industry increased from $3.1 billion in 2000 to $4.4 billion in 2009. This segment is growing faster than the overall food market and is expected to continue climbing as pizza remains the "go to" meal of busy Americans.

What are your thoughts about frozen pizza? Is there a certain brand or taste sensation you prefer? Leave a message and tell me about your favorite pizza from the grocery store.

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