Image credit: BELLA GRAVES

Pizza is one of the world’s most popular foods. In the U.S., 350 slices are eaten every second, and 40% of Americans eat pizza at least once a week. There’s a reason for this: pizza combines fatty, sweet, rich, and complex flavors that humans love. The cheese is fatty, the meat toppings are rich, and the sauce is sweet.

Pizza toppings are also full of a compound called glutamate, found in tomatoes, cheese, pepperoni, and sausage. When glutamate hits our tongues, it tells our brains to get excited and crave more, making our mouths water for the next bite.

The combination of ingredients is another reason pizza tastes so good. Cheese and tomato sauce taste good on their own, but together, they create a flavor that’s even better.

Another factor is how the ingredients brown and crisp in the oven. This happens because of two chemical reactions: caramelization and the Maillard reaction. Caramelization occurs when the sugars in food turn brown between 230 and 320 degrees. On pizza, this makes ingredients like onions and tomatoes rich, sweet, and flavorful. The crust also gets brown and crispy from caramelization.

The Maillard reaction happens when amino acids in high-protein foods like cheese and pepperoni react with sugars when heated. This makes pepperoni crispy and cheese brown and bubbly.

With its bread, cheese, and tomato sauce, pizza might seem simple, but it’s actually quite complex. Next time you eat a slice, think about all the elements that make pizza so delicious and mouthwatering.

Re-reported from the article originally published in She the People.

Why Is Pizza So Irresistible

Image credit: BELLA GRAVES

Pizza is one of the world’s most popular foods. In the U.S., 350 slices are eaten every second, and 40% of Americans eat pizza at least once a week. There’s a reason for this: pizza combines fatty, sweet, rich, and complex flavors that humans love. The cheese is fatty, the meat toppings are rich, and the sauce is sweet.

Pizza toppings are also full of a compound called glutamate, found in tomatoes, cheese, pepperoni, and sausage. When glutamate hits our tongues, it tells our brains to get excited and crave more, making our mouths water for the next bite.

The combination of ingredients is another reason pizza tastes so good. Cheese and tomato sauce taste good on their own, but together, they create a flavor that’s even better.

Another factor is how the ingredients brown and crisp in the oven. This happens because of two chemical reactions: caramelization and the Maillard reaction. Caramelization occurs when the sugars in food turn brown between 230 and 320 degrees. On pizza, this makes ingredients like onions and tomatoes rich, sweet, and flavorful. The crust also gets brown and crispy from caramelization.

The Maillard reaction happens when amino acids in high-protein foods like cheese and pepperoni react with sugars when heated. This makes pepperoni crispy and cheese brown and bubbly.

With its bread, cheese, and tomato sauce, pizza might seem simple, but it’s actually quite complex. Next time you eat a slice, think about all the elements that make pizza so delicious and mouthwatering.

Re-reported from the article originally published in She the People.