Red Sauce America - Food, Culture, and Italian American Experience

Inventing English Muffin Pizza

By on Tuesday, July 5th, 2022 at 9:01 am | 1,799 views

Pizza took off across America during the 1950s. There were numerous contributing factors to the rise in the sudden popularity, but one that profoundly shaped every day cooking was the desire for more convenient foods.

Take out pizza from restaurants offered a great way to save on time, but could be costly. Domestic brands knew one way to appeal to the 1950s domestic housewife was combining the convenience of opening a can or jar with the thriftiness of eating at home.

Marketing spawned numerous Franken-foods combining processed ingredients into semi-homemade treats. One of these that stands the test of time is the English muffin pizza.

English muffin pizza was all the rage. Are you a top or a bottom

The English muffin pizza was invented to sell tomato sauce by the good folks over at Hunt’s tomato sauce. In 1954, Hunt’s brand tomato sauce started advertising the English muffin pizza with the hope of selling more canned tomato sauce.

The ad called it a 10-minute pizza and included a prominent photo of a can of Hunt’s Tomato Sauce straight from the can.

The accompanying photo shows pizzas topped with anchovy filets and others with green cocktail olives, and suggests that these alternative toppings are a great way to add variety to pizza.

Pizza was not yet an American mainstay. During this time, women’s magazines were still providing pronunciation guides for the strange word featuring the double z — “pizza” literally needed to be taught to Americans.

Back then, Mozzarella was still pretty strange too for the average home cooks, and the ad refers to it as “pizza cheese.” Helpfully, the marketing suggests brick, Swiss, or other good melting cheeses.

The ads ran in magazines targeting housewives life Red Book or Ladies Home Journal, and was one way Italian American food went mainstream.

The following is adapted from a 1955 Hunt’s Tomato Sauce advertisement.


Sliced Swiss or other melting cheese
Hunt’s Tomato Sauce
Salad Oil
English Muffins


Toast English Muffins
Top with sauce
Layer on cheese
Top with oil, oregano, salt pepper.
Bake at 450 F