History of Pizza Delivery: When & Where Did Pizza Delivery Start?

We all love the convenience that comes with having a pizza delivered to our doorstep. Whether you’re placing an order by phone or online, you only need to wait for the bell to ring. But do we ever stop to think about how it all started?

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It turns out pizza delivery is a practice with a long history that dates back to the 19th century. Unbelievable right? If you ever thought your dinner was taking too long, appreciate that you weren’t around when the first delivery took place because it started before the invention of cars. Here’s more about the history of pizza delivery.

What is Pizza Delivery?

It’s a service that ensures pizza chains or pizzerias deliver pizzas to customers at a fee. An order is made online or by phone to the pizza chain allowing the customer to provide details about its size, type, and other products to accompany the pizza.

How Pizza Delivery is Done

Typically, pizzas are delivered in pizza boxes and the deliveries are made by a bicycle, motorized scooter, or automobile. The pizzerias companies use specialized software to identify the most efficient routes delivering pizza within a short time.

That’s why most pizza chains deliver pizzas in 20-30 minutes (or less) after receiving an order. However, the delivery time may vary based on a few factors which include:

  • Whether there’s a driver available to deliver the pizza
  • The distance between the store and the customer’s house
  • Whether the driver has other deliveries to make along with yours
  • The traffic and weather condition

Some pizzerias guarantee a set period. For example, Domino’s Pizza has a strict policy to have every order delivered within 30 minutes or less to ensure customer satisfaction.

The company launched a campaign in the 1980s to offer a three-dollar discount if the policy was broken. Pizzerias that don’t offer guarantees regarding the delivery time state an approximate delivery time.

Pizza Delivery Fee

With pizza delivery is the question delivery fee. For many companies, it’s a standard requirement to charge a fee for deliveries made. However, for years many pizzerias followed a free delivery policy and Domino’s Pizza is an excellent example.

Later in 1999, Pizza Hut decided to experiment by charging 50 cents for each delivery in ten stores. Other stores implemented the idea, and by 2002 a handful of pizza franchises, including Domino’s, charged 50 cents for each delivery.

When Did Pizza Delivery Start?

History has it that Queen Margherita of Savoy was the first to get a pizza delivered at home. Apparently, the Queen and her husband, King Umberto were on a trip and had stopped at Naples.

Queen Margherita

Queen Margherita was sick of eating the tasty meals served in hotels and wanted a change. It prompted her to request some food at the local eatery, and since it was in Naples, that meant a pizza.

At the time, pizza was a popular street food because the ingredients (mozzarella, olive oil, and tomatoes) were readily available. In fact, nobles regarded it as a meal for local peasants. Chef Raffaele Esposito had been popularizing the affordable street food at his restaurant, and the Queen got wind of it through the royal chef.

As such, Raffaele Esposito was called upon to make the best pizza chef for the Queen. Raffaele didn’t disappoint. Instead of making one pizza, Esposito decided to make three of them. The first comprised tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil to resemble the colors of the Italian flag. The second had garlic and the other had anchovies.

And since the king and the Queen were not expected to visit the pizzeria, Esposito delivered it himself. This was the first-ever recorded pizza delivery and the culmination of the Margherita pizza.

Esposito’s fame continued after the royalty left Naples, spreading throughout Europe. You’d think the common class was entitled to pizza delivery as well. It wasn’t the case. The common class only enjoyed pizza delivery after World War II (1945).

It is believed that the hungry soldiers were craving food (pizza) they had eaten abroad. Since the soldiers couldn’t visit the nearest pizza shop, they had the pizzas delivered.

Pizzerias in New York City offered to pack the pizzas in individual containers and sent them to the soldiers. Years later, pizza chains in Los Angeles offered free deliveries on all orders. This trend marked the beginning of pick-in-store service, popular in many pizzerias today.

Evolution of Pizza Delivery

1. Car-based Pizza Delivery

The 60s marked the beginning of modern pizza delivery. At the time, fast foods were quite common as most Americans had stable incomes. Fast food eateries, pizza joints, and burger chains offered delivery changing the food industry.

Some pizzerias even started offering a 30-minute or less guarantee on pizza deliveries. It meant that if your order took longer than 30 minutes to deliver, your order was free. However, the practice was banned in 1993 following the rising number of accidents caused by hasty delivery drivers.

2. Impact of the Internet on Pizza Delivery

Pizza delivery has experienced a massive change over the years, and one factor that has propelled its growth is the internet. A few pizza chains began integrating the internet in their delivery operations between 1994 and 1997, spawning an experimental service called PizzaNet.

The service allowed customers to visit a pizza chain online and order a pizza. Many customers were still skeptical about this new invention, but fast-forward 20 years, and no one can imagine a world without online pizza delivery.

The invention of mobile applications in 2009 propelled online pizza delivery further, and during the following years, famous pizza chains and small pizzerias developed apps that allowed customers to:

  • Order their favorite pizzas
  • Track orders
  • View the chain’s menu

3. App-based Pizza Delivery

After setting up online pizza delivery, the next step was setting up delivery systems that ensured fast delivery. Of course, the chef can’t deliver, as in the case of the first-ever pizza delivery.

Many pizza chains resulted in the use of cars, but the ongoing technological development has led to the invention of exclusive food delivery. The service doesn’t eliminate pizzeria’s exclusive apps but broadens their scope.

Some online food delivery services partner with Google to enable customers to initiate orders using Google Maps. Also, consumers can use mobile applications to make orders in advance, skipping the long queues. Examples of such pizza delivery services include:

  • UberEats

An additional invention by Uber, this online food ordering and delivery platform enable customers to place orders and track them. What’s more, the delivery service learns the customer’s preference, makes customized recommendations, and provides half-hour delivery options.

  • Slice

If you’re not a fan of the big pizza chains, Slice has got you covered. The app allows you to create custom pies to order exactly what you want. You can also re-order your favorites with a few taps.

  • Grubhub

While it’s not an exclusive pizza delivery app, you can use it to find the nearest pizza restaurant. Type the word ‘pizza’ into the search bar, and a list of all the pizza joints near you will appear. The app also helps you find delivery restaurants, takeaway spots, or both. Also, you can store payment information, so you don’t need to fumble with your card every time you’re ordering a pizza.

Other notable innovations in pizza delivery involve the use of delivery trucks. A robot prepares the pizza while the truck moves towards your home or where you want the pizza delivered. The premise is to reduce delivery time and deliver the pizza while it’s still hot. Pizza Hut is one company that has taken to the idea to expand its delivery radius.

The company in partnership with Toyota has developed a mobile pizza factory that can deliver oven-hot pizza. The factory features a unique truck bed that has been converted into a virtual pizza factory on wheels.

It contains a portable conveyor oven, a pair of robotic arms, and a refrigerator. Once you order a pizza from Pizza Hut, one robotic arm opens the refrigerator and removes the desired pizza, places it on the oven conveyor, and returns to close the door. The second arm removes the finished pie, places it on a cutting board, divides it into slices, boxes it up, and delivers it to the customer.

Driverless Pizza Delivery

Pizza delivery continues to impress myriads of people with large pizzerias reinventing the service to ease convenience. One such invention is the driverless pizza delivery which Domino’s recently piloted. Domino’s in partnership with Nuro, a self-driving delivery startup company, launched a pilot for driverless pizza delivery.

The idea is to enable customers to place a prepaid order on Domino’s website for delivery. If the customer places the order within specific times and days, they can choose to have Nuro’s robot drop off the pizza.

On arrival, the customer types a unique PIN on the robot’s touch screen to activate the doors to open for pizza retrieval (delivery). Domino’s has invested in technology to make pizza delivery fast and easier, and driverless pizza delivery is one recent focus. Of course, the company is years away from replacing fleet drivers, but the new technology is worth exploring.


Pizza delivery has come a long way. And with companies committed to reinventing their delivery tactics, we’re bound to see more cutting-edge pizza delivery services to reduce delivery time and enhance customer satisfaction.

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