Mashed Exclusive Survey Uncovers Fans' Favorite Pizza Topping

We've spent plenty of time arguing over the best pizza toppings, such as pepperoni, sausage, and the ever-controversial ham and pineapple. However, a Mashed exclusive survey asked readers to set the story straight, and boy, did they.

Out of 35,000 votes, a whopping 54% of respondents chose pepperoni as their all-time favorite pizza topping. We can't say we're too surprised because Americans gobble up approximately 252 million pounds of pepperoni yearly, per The Washington Post. However, we certainly didn't expect any single topping to sweep the board the way pepperoni did. As we said, our readers have spoken.

Following in pepperoni's dust, the classic request for extra cheese received 18% of votes, and mushrooms followed with 14% of the vote. Another 8% of votes went to pineapple (either by itself or as part of the iconic Hawaiian pizza ham-and-pineapple duo). Last but not least, 5% of readers chose black olives as their favorite pizza topping, with honorable mentions going to sausage, anchovies, and onions.

Why do people love pepperoni pizza so much?

As has been established by the survey results, Mashed readers can't get enough pepperoni on pizza. Naturally, this begs the question: Why do people love pepperoni so much, particularly as a pizza topping?

Many of us are familiar with creating a balanced bite with contrasting flavors. Pepperoni does precisely that. Tomato sauce can be sweet, and cheese can be fatty, but pepperoni brings a savory umami flavor to balance everything else. Also, pepperoni packs enough heat for spice lovers but not so much heat that those with more sensitive taste buds can't partake in a slice. 

Because we can't talk about contrast without mentioning textural differences, we should take into account how some pepperoni curls when cooked, adding a crispy element. This balances well with the chewiness of cheese and the silkiness of sauce. All in all, pepperoni rightfully earns its popularity because of its ability to tie classic pizza elements together in an approachable, delicious way.