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The History of French Bread Pizza

By on Tuesday, July 12th, 2022 at 9:03 am | 2,295 views

french bread pizza made with old bread

French Bread Pizza is often associated with Stouffer’s, the frozen food giant that helped popularize lasagna. French Bread Pizza followed a few years later. Stouffer’s launched the product in 1974 with an eye toward pizza ovens, then an increasingly popular home appliance.

The Stouffer’s product was the result of the marketing department. Milton Miles needed more product lines to keep the Stouffer’s garlic bread baguettes in production. Covering the french bread with sauce and cheese created an open-face sandwich that the company smartly called a pizza.

As refrigeration in the 20th century became widely available, companies like Stouffer’s found new ways of exploiting the technology.

Stouffer’s wasn’t the first pizza on a baguette. In Ithaca, New York, a college town in the rural Finger Lakes region, Bob Petrillose sold an open face sandwich from his Hot Truck, a food truck he operated since 1960. He called the sandwich a “PMP,” or rather, a Poor Man’s Pizza. Sometimes his style of sandwich is referred to as an Ithaca-style pizza.

french bread pizza is a popular way to use old bread

Hot Truck Bob wasn’t first, however. The Frizza, a pizza made by slicing a French bread into thirds and then in half, was suggested as a “pleasant and easy change” from pizza back in 1958.

Add cheese and toppings like sausage and mushrooms, and brown the Frizza for ten minutes at 450 F.

In Poland, a similar French Bread style pizza known as zapiekanka has been served since the 1970s. Under the Soviets, Poland suffered greatly as most of their resources, including food, were exported back to Russia.

Small, family owned eateries spread during the food shortages of the 1970s, and one of the popular dishes were zapiekanka covered with melted cheese and assorted toppings and condiments.

Today, zapiekanka are common late night snacks. But they raise an important question as to what is pizza and how far a dish can evolve before it loses the moniker.