The Debated Origins Of French Bread Pizza

French bread pizza is the epitome of quick dinners and late-night snacks, whether homemade or from a grocery store freezer. While Stouffer's may have made the pizza famous around the country, they were not the first to make the dish. But since Stouffer's launched its version of French bread pizza in the 1970s, there have been many copycat recipes by home cooks and celebrity chefs. Rachael Ray is a fan, in fact. Her recipe calls for a large grocery store soft-style French bread loaf that is topped with homemade pizza sauce and a blend of shredded cheese. 

Ree Drummond, on the other hand, uses a combination of pesto and marinara sauce as the base for her French bread pizza and then adds different toppings to several loaves to make Canadian Bacon and Pineapple Pizzas, Greek Salad Pizzas, Pepperoni and Jalapeno Pizzas, and Hamburger Pizzas. Like traditional pizzas, the sky's the limit with French bread pizza. Stouffer's sticks to classic pizza toppings, including Three Meat, Pepperoni, and Extra Cheese. But, who was the first to have the idea to put pizza sauce and cheese on a loaf of thick, crunchy French bread? The answer is up for debate.

Late-night inspiration

The first clue to the origin of French bread pizza can be found on the box for Stouffer's French bread pizza, which says it was inspired by a late-night visit to a food truck after going to a 1970s disco event. But, who ran this food truck and where was it located? The Wall Street Journal says the food truck was located in Ithaca, New York, where Bob Petrillose (known as Hot Truck Bob) used his sub sandwich bread to make pizzas for local college students.

However, another origin story exists that Stouffer's shared with The Wall Street Journal that cites Milton Miles, an employee in the marketing department, as the creator. The story goes that he needed to expand the company's garlic bread which wasn't able to support a product division. His solution was to divide the bread and put toppings on it of tomato sauce and cheese to sell as a frozen snack. What was first going to be sold as an open-face sandwich got branded as a pizza.

No matter who first had the idea for French bread pizza, one thing is for certain: it's a modern classic for people of all ages.