Why is pizza so addictive?


A deliciously fresh pizza pie with warm baked dough, salty tomato sauce and gooey cheese is a delight for the senses. There are few foods that could satisfy me on a daily basis, but pizza is one of them.

Interestingly, pizza was recently ranked as the food most associated with indicators of addiction, according to a recent study. But what is it specifically about pizza that makes it so universally craved?

“I’m fascinated by the fact that people will eat almost any kind of pizza — not necessarily the ‘best’ pizza — and part of that is the fact that it is the uber selection of ingredients that have fat, sugar and salt, that pleases the amygdala [a set of neurons in the brain] and makes the brain very happy,” said Gail Vance Civille, founder and president of Sensory Spectrum, a consulting firm that helps companies, including pizza companies, learn how sensory cues drive consumer perceptions of products.

“It delivers on the food matrix that people tend to crave and want, and feeds the brain, which says ‘this is just wonderful.’ “

“It’s the Holy Trinity of crust, cheese and sauce that really accentuates that whole umami thing,” said Bill DeJournett, managing editor of PMQ Pizza Magazine. “Cheese is addictive on its own … and what is better than bread and cheese? And then when you pair with sauce, it takes it to a whole new level, and it’s irresistible.”

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