This Is The Most Famous Food In Illinois

No offense to Chicken Vesuvio, apple fritters, or pierogis, which are, in their own right, delicious foods. The most famous food in Illinois is deep-dish pizza. It's true that the late, great Anthony Bourdain once called deep-dish pizza an "abomination"(via Eater Chicago). But when it comes to notoriety, any publicity is good publicity. 

Remember in 1998, asks the Chicago Tribune, when President Bill Clinton stalled departing from O'Hare International Airport, waiting for a slice of Pizano's Chicago-style pizza? Clinton never delayed take off for Chicken Vesuvio (that we know of). Remember in 2019, when deep-dish pizza gained national attention in the so-called "Police Pizza War?" Basically, the Chicago PD and the NYPD were gearing up for a football game, and the losing team purportedly had to eat the opposing city's pizza pie (via am NY and 1010 Wins). No one, to our knowledge, has fought so fiercely over the best regional variety of apple fritters.  

Then there's the fact that deep-dish pizzas are born to be paparazzi fodder. The pizzas (which, according to the Chicago Tribune can measure up to 2 inches in height, and weigh in at up to 4, deliciously cheesy pounds) can literally be devoured by the eye. It helps that deep-dish pizzas have their own, specially designed wardrobes. They're called, says Atlas Obscura, "Chicago folders," and are designed so that you can lay them flat, and extricate your deep-dish dinner, faster. Other pizzas? They're stuck with standard, stiff-walled pizza boxes. 

How the first deep dish pizza came to be

In 1944, The New York Times introduced the country to a new dish: pizza. The Times described pizza (New York Style, deep dish, or otherwise) as "a pie made from yeast dough and filled with any number of centers" (via Atlas Obscura). A year before, Ike Sewell and Ric Riccardo opened a restaurant close to Chicago's North Side neighborhood, where deep dish-pizza would first be invented: Pizzeria Uno (via BBC).

History is undecided. Maybe it was Sewell and Riccardo who came up with the phenomenon. Probably it was one of their cooks, and perhaps, muses Chicago Eater, Adolpho "Rudy" Malnati Sr. or Alice May Redmond, who both worked at Uno's. Either way, somebody thought to bake the pizza in a pan. To avoid burning the cheese, says The Culture Trip, they added it to the dough first, layering on the toppings next, and the sauce last. 

No one needs to tell you that it was a success. There is, after all, a love song dedicated to it. You might still play the vintage track. Ten years after deep-dish pizza was introduced to the world, Dean Martin first brought his hit song, "Amore," to life, singing, "when the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's amore" (via Song Facts). Was it a hymnal to Chicago-style deep dish? We can't say for sure, but The Chicago Tribune certainly wants to think it's true.