Can you imagine a world without a pizza cutter? A world where pizzas were left unsliced and the people that were forced to cut up pizzas were forced to use knives and various tools without the ease of the circular slicer we know and love today?
Could you just imagine that for a second? What an absolute nightmare. I genuinely couldn’t think of anything worse.
But there was a time before the pizza cutter, just like any other invention in history. There was a time where people had to make do.
I’m going to explore those times with you today and we’ll find out when the pizza cutter came into existence, as well as the where and the how. It’s a lot more interesting of a story than you might first think, so stick around!
The Pizza Before The Cutter
The journey of the pizza cutter didn’t actually come into existence until the early 1700s. Before then, who knows how people would slice their pizzas – but I can assure you it wasn’t pretty.
The invention of the mezzaluna in 1708, by a man called Silvio Pacitti, was the first recorded invention of what would later revolutionize how we cut our pizzas.
At the time, the mezzaluna wasn’t used for pizzas, pizzas weren’t even considered an option. Pacitti invented the blade to cut vegetables easier.
It is called a half-moon blade and resembles the blade of a curved machete with a handle on either end, making the slicing of food much easier than the typical clenched hand and sharp knife technique that was used.
The mezzaluna has evolved greatly since its invention and is still very prevalent today.
It would go on to become the forefather of the pizza cutter we know came to be. It paved the way for how pizzas were most effectively cut, but it wouldn’t be until the late-1800s that anything else would be said on the matter.
When Was The Pizza Cutter Invented?
Almost 200 years in the future, the mezzaluna was now being used as the way for most people to cut their pizzas. There still wasn’t much efficacy to the tool, but it made for an easier time than slicing with a knife at the very least.
That’s where a wallpaper hanger, known as David S. Morgan comes in. He didn’t know it, but he was about to go down in the pizza history books as a legend… even though it wasn’t intentional at the time.
Morgan managed to invent the first pizza cutter in 1892, and it very closely resembles the sharp, circular blade cradled by a thin handle that we use today.
However, Morgan never intended the thing to be used for pizzas. It’s safe to say that pizzas probably never crossed his mind at all at the time of invention.
Instead, he focused his efforts on making his job slicing wallpaper strips easier, and that was the first recorded use of the pizza cutter.
Likely, Morgan wouldn’t actually have figured out the powerful connection his little tool could have with slicing pizzas. In the late-1800s pizza was barely a part of the culinary habits of America.
It would be highly unlikely for a simple wallpaper handler to think out a solution of this caliber himself. The likelihood is he probably never even had a pizza until much later in life. What a happy little accident it ended up being!
Where Was The Pizza Cutter Invented?
David S. Morgan, the original inventor of the (accidental) pizza cutter, was from Asheville, North Carolina, and his invention came out of there.
He actually patented his design as a wallpaper trimmer though, so technically there isn’t any connection there and not much can be said for the actual invention of the pizza cutter in North Carolina.
By about the 1920s, we really started to see Morgan’s design be utilized to cut pizzas the same way we do today.
A man named Carl A. Frahm, from Canton, Ohio was the attributed inventor. Circa 1922, Frahm had fine-tuned the work of Morgan to more closely resemble the cutters we use now, the wheel was much smaller and much sharper and was based on cake cutters from around that time.
So if you wanted a direct answer, the most appropriate one would be to say that the early inventions of a pizza cutter definitely came out of the States, rather than Italy as you might expect.
Though the patent has traveled far and wide now and is used just about everywhere, America can take 100% of the credit for the pizza cutter as we know it today.
The Evolution Of The Pizza Cutter
Starting way back in 1702, the mezzaluna looks nothing like the pizza cutter today. Like most technological advancements, evolution is a key part of the process to ensure the most efficient tool is always ready for the job.
If anything, the pizza cutters that we use today might end up being nothing more than another story in history come the year 2120. The advancements they could have made by then could be too immense.
Though, the old saying “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” comes to mind. There probably isn’t a great deal more work that needs to be done on the modern pizza cutter.
If the job of the cutter is to slice a pizza into even portions, with little to no stoppage en route, and the pizza cutter today is capable of doing that – what would you possibly need to change to make it better?
The only thing I can think of is potentially making it sharper… But that could be asking for a lot of trouble!
Anyway, there’s plenty that could be said about the evolution of the pizza cutter throughout history. The pizza cutter started as the half-moon bladed mezzaluna and then transitioned into the beefy wheeled blade of the wallpaper trimmer from David S. Morgan.
Once actual pizza aficionados got their eyes on it, they started playing around with the blade and made it smaller and more streamlined for a better cut.
The first patented pizza cut has a much smaller blade head than the wallpaper trimmer from Morgan did. It was also a little more serrated for the cutting process, whereas Morgan’s was smooth (since wallpapers tend to be a teensy bit thinner than pizza dough).
As the years went by, more and more companies had a go at creating some of their own pizza cutters, each one trying to make the most efficient one they could.
Naturally, some pretty interesting (and some rather comical) results followed. The mid-1900s played a very powerful part in the modern creation of the pizza cutter.
Companies had to sift through the initially poor ideas to get to the more appropriate ones. One of the best inventions I could find to mention was some strange fusion between the mezzaluna and the pizza cutter that is better off left alone – but some companies attempted it anyway.
Basically, it’s a half-moon-shaped handle that you hold in the middle, with two pizza wheels on either end to cut through the pizza quickly.
I suppose on paper it can sound pretty good at what it does… but in practice, it just looks clunky and just a bit unnecessary.
This is what we use the past for though. What good is learning about history if we can’t learn our lessons from it! No more fusion inventions of two already working creations, please!
Other Names For Pizza Cutters
It’s a good time to mention some of the other names that pizza cutters go by. I’ve already covered a few of them here, but it helps to have an idea so you can impress your friends with some of your new-founded pizza cutting knowledge.
Firstly, it’s good to mention that most pizza cutters have synonymous names like a pizza slicer or a pizza wheel. I find a pizza wheel to be the most fitting substitute if you’re going to use any, since (obviously) the blade resembles a wheel and spins just like one too!
Then there’s the mezzaluna, which I’ve mentioned above as one of the earliest inventions of the pizza cutter. It didn’t go on to be developed into the wheel that we use, but it still holds a powerful link with modern pizza cutting. There are plenty of places around the world that still practice using a mezzaluna for pizza cutting.
The blade itself has been upgraded over the years. It is still plenty sharp and curved for that perfect cut, but it’s come a long way since its first conception (remember it was only designed to chop vegetables after all).
So, how’s that for the rich history of pizza cutters in the world? Who would have thought it could have been that interesting! Before I started my research, I hadn’t really thought much about it at all.
It’s not something I often find myself wondering about, but I’m certainly glad I looked into it! Starting in Italy as nothing more than an overgrown knife, to then be an accidental invention that was intended for trimming wallpapers. What a remarkable story for something as simple as a pizza cutter.