Last month we celebrated Pepperoni Pizza Day, and I discovered sausage pizza is the second most popular pizza in America. Truth be known, sausage is my favorite topping on a pizza pie.

Sausage pizzas are a popular pizza variety because the sausage is not like American breakfast sausage, but rather the sausage used in Italian-blended sausage. The history of "sausage pizza" is related to the evolution of pizza itself.

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The reason sausage is used in pizza dates back to the very invention of pizza by ancient Egyptians and Greeks. These societies invented the circular flatbread where upon different toppings like vegetables and some local meats were added.

The Italians then began perfecting the more modern-day pizzas we enjoy today in the 18th century. The inclusion of sausage as a pizza topping began in Italy, where various regional sausages were readily available. Sausage not only added a distinct rich flavor, but was more readily available and a far less expensive meat.

When Italians emigrated to the U.S., sausage pizza varieties began expanding. Many believe that Chicagoans were responsible for the sausage pizza. However, the evolution of the sausage began getting all the attention in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In the U.S., pizza evolved further and included a wider range of sausages.

American-style sausage pizza is typically characterized by the use of crumbled or sliced sausage. There are mainly two different types of sausage used. One is the ever-popular Italian-American sausage, a sweeter sausage and made from ground pork. The second is the spicier Italian sausage that is most used in the U.S. today.

For the record, pepperoni is not technically a sausage but a type of salami. Mexican chorizo can also be used for a more spicy flavor. And yes, there is even a "vegetarian sausage" for those who prefer a plant-based pizza.

The choice of sausage used is up to you. However, most pizza parlors offer only one or two sausage flavors today, one being the Italian-style sausage and the other the American breakfast sausage. Experimenting with different types of sausage can lead to unique and delicious flavor combinations for your homemade or restaurant-style sausage pizza.

I love the Italian-style sausage. And I'll see you at the pizza parlor!

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