Feel like pizza? When you’ve got a group of hungry kids, friends, and family, there is one topping that is sure to please most: pepperoni. It is not only the single most popular pizza topping in the U.S., it is a staple in tens of millions of kitchens and pantries. Pizza may be the most common usage, but pepperoni makes a great snack! For folks on keto or other low-carb diets, this is a terrific on-the-go snack. High-quality options are packed with proteins, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. We love this spicy meat treat – but do you know where it comes from? You’re about to! Read on for more info on the origins of pepperoni. 

History of Pepperoni: An American Superstar

Pizza and pepperoni: a match made in heaven! Our favorite pie originated in Italy, and it looks (and tastes) a bit different than what we eat here. The sauce is made from fresh tomatoes and mouth-watering herbs. With “bianca” pizzas, there is no tomato-based sauce, just a drizzle of olive oil. The crust is thin and crisp, and on top, you will find delicious prosciutto, chunks of mozzarella, eggplant, garlic, green peppers, basil, rosemary, and other herbs and greens.

We love our thin crust in the U.S., but we also enjoy thick “Chicago-style” and deep dish pies. Our toppings are also very different: Americans prefer sausage, onion, mushroom, ham, bacon, pineapple, and… pepperoni, of course! 

Pepperoni is a uniquely American invention of ground pork and beef, commonly seasoned with garlic, cayenne, and paprika. Nitrites and nitrates give it the red color – and help preserve it. 

Origins of Pepperoni

Subscribe to Emails from Sweetwood Smokehouse and SaveWay back in 1894, some intrepid Italian markets began offering a “dry sausage” that was the great-great grandfather of today’s pepperoni. It mainly stuck to Little Italy’s across the country. It took decades for pepperoni to start popping up on pizzas, and even then, it was called “sausage for pizza.” 

Part of this was practicality. Italian cured meats, like capicola, took too long to make; Italian-Americans needed a faster solution. Pepperoni doesn’t take as long to process, so it became a good, affordable, accessible choice. In the mid-20th century, pepperoni was served as an appetizer, often with other cured meats, pickles, and olives.

Finally, finally, pepperoni started popping up on pizzas. As for the origins of pepperoni pizza for the masses, Pizza Hut started selling pepperoni pizzas – for a whopping $1.35 – in 1958, and Dominos hopped on the trend two years later. Today, it’s hard to imagine indulging in a slice without our beloved pepperoni!

Pepperoni: Pizza Optional

Now, what if you are cutting carbs? What if you simply don’t enjoy pizza? Pepperoni slices and sticks make terrific low-carb and keto-diet meat snacks on their own. Pack some slices in your bag, keep some sticks in your car, and always have a pick-me-up when you need it. Pepperoni is great with cheese slices, veggie slices, and olives, for example, and you can eat it anywhere. 

But be careful: not all pepperoni is created equal! Some options are loaded with salt and artificial ingredients, and this can derail your health and wellness goals. If you’re looking for a high-quality option, you’ve found it. Sweetwood Smokehouse is launching a new Pepperoni FATTY Smoked Meat Stick. We’re excited to add this to our stellar lineup of natural meat sticks. As always, you’ll enjoy all of the flavor without the junk!

December 03, 2021 — Sarah Kelshaw