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Is Chicago Really A Deep Dish Pizza Town?

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Dec 23, 2013 5:45PM

Photo credit: Dan Gaken

Jon Stewart’s recent diatribe against deep dish pizza brought out the cow town roots in most Chicagoans. Even mayor Rahm Emanuel got into the act and sent Stewart and his Daily Show cohorts a deep dish pizza with anchovies—a “deep dish with dead fish.”

And while it’s nice to scream “Fuck you, New York and fuck your pizza!”, do Chicagoans really give a fuck themselves about deep dish or was this another rampant case of Second City Disease? Is deep dish Chicago’s pizza?

WBEZ’s Derek John set out to answer that question and found some unsurprising (for us) results. John spoke with reps at GrubHub, Technomic and area pizzerias and found that most Chicagoans preferred thin crust over deep dish. GrubHub’s Allie Mack said that only 9 percent of pizzas ordered via the online delivery service are deep dish. In fact, thin crust pizza orders outnumber deep dish by a 10-to-1 margin.

Chicago Pizza Tours’ Jon Porter also falls in the thin crust camp, noting the style’s square cut origins on the city’s South side (developed as a means to keep working class customers in their bars spending more money) preceded deep dish by a couple of decades. Technomic researcher Darren Tristano questioned some of GrubHub’s data while acknowledging the higher price points of deep dish pizzas to place the style at a disadvantage vis a vis> thin crust.

Many media outlets, including Chicagoist, have noted the wonderful range of styles and depth to Chicago’s pizza scene, including a growing number of pizzerias building wood-fired brick ovens to bake their pies and nods to other styles including Quad Cities, New Haven, Neapolitan and yes, even New York-style pizza. To get territorial about whether one style best defines a city seems like a waste of time. Maybe we can discuss it further over some thin crust.