Pizza rolls, or pizza snack rolls, are popular bite-size snacks made of dough and filled with assorted ingredients that generally include pepperoni and cheese. They’re usually sold as a frozen delicacy, and one can cook them quickly using an oven, a microwave, or an oven toaster. One can also deep-fry them until golden brown. Several flavors are currently available in the market, and companies are offering organic, vegan, and non-GMO variants of the rolls.
Have you ever wondered how pizza rolls came to be? In this article, we’ll take a quick dive into the pizza rolls’ history and evolution.
Who invented pizza rolls?
Some food historians couldn’t agree on who was the actual originator of the pizza rolls. On the one hand, some say that pizza rolls came to be as the brainchild of entrepreneur Jeno Paulucci in 1968. Paulucci is the renowned father of frozen foods. Paulucci owned Chun King, a company that produced canned chop suey and other Chinese food dishes such as chow mein and egg rolls. It was alleged that he replaced the fillings in a traditional Chinese egg roll with ingredients for pizza toppings, and when the market embraced the product, he developed other flavors.
Paulucci eventually established the company Jeno’s, which specialized in producing pizza rolls. He used the trademark, Pizza Rolls, starting in 1967 until he decided to sell the company to Pillsbury, the owner of Totino’s Pizza. In 1993, Jeno’s Pizza Rolls rebranded as Totino’s Pizza Rolls. When General Mills acquired Pillsbury in 2001, they continued the production of the beloved pizza rolls.
Other historians say that Paulucci was inspired by the work of Giuseppe Agiro of Fairmont, West Virginia. Agiro sold pizza rolls in the 1920s, starting with the pepperoni roll. It’s said that Agiro was inspired to create the product when he saw miners eating their lunch, holding a sausage in one hand and bread in the other. He decided to put the two together, and it made for a better product. Over time, Agiro came up with pizza rolls with peppers, ground beef, and cheese fillings.
Pizza rolls’ key contributors (and evolution)
- Giuseppe AgiroAgiro’s product fed hungry miners
Inspired by the miners who ate their lunch, holding sausage in one hand and bread in the other, Agiro decided to put them together. He came up with a well-received product that didn’t need refrigeration at the time. He also came up with pizza rolls with ground beef, peppers, and cheese fillings.
- Jeno PaulucciPaulucci innovates classic Chinese dish into a terrific Italian-style favorite
Jeno Paulucci, the king of frozen foods and owner of Chun King, a producer of Chinese dishes, stuffed the egg roll with classic pizza topping ingredients instead of the usual fillings and came up with the pizza roll. The product was widely embraced, and he kept developing it with different flavors.
- Jeno’sJeno’s specialized in producing pizza rolls
Paulucci’s experimentation led him to establish another company, Jeno’s. Jeno’s specialized in producing pizza rolls, which started as a boon in the food industry. Several products are based on the original.
- Totino’sTotino’s continued the pizza roll legacy
When Paulucci decided to sell his company to Pillsbury, he knew he would give up pizza rolls production. General Mills acquired Pillsbury and rebranded the pizza rolls as Totino’s. The brand continued the development of the pizza roll line.
- Alexia’sAlexia’s innovated the pizza rolls with 100% all organic ingredients
When the health craze swept the food industry, Alexia’s was one of the companies that came up with healthier pizza rolls. They produced a product that boasted 100% all organic ingredients claiming that their product didn’t need artificial flavors and preservatives.
When were the first pizza rolls invented?
Some food historians have pointed out that Jeno Paulucci invented the idea for pizza rolls in 1967 when he intentionally replaced the traditional egg roll fillings with pizza toppings ingredients. Paulucci owned the Kung Chun company, which specialized in packaging Chinese products such as egg rolls, chop suey, and chow mein.
The success of the pizza rolls led Paulucci to establish Jeno’s, which specialized in the product. When the public embraced the product, they continued developing it with different flavors. They met commercial success, and they sold the company to Pillsbury. General Mills acquired Pillsbury and continued to produce pizza rolls under the brand Totino’s. Paulucci proceeded to establish Luigino’s to replace Jeno’s.
Other food historians would point to Giuseppe Agiro as the originator of the pizza rolls in 1920. Agiro was inspired by the miners he saw eating their lunch, holding sausage in one hand and bread in the other. He combined the two, and the customers loved it. Agiro came up with pizza rolls with different fillings such as ground beef, peppers, and cheese.
A brief history of pizza rolls
Food historians generally point out Jeno Paulucci as the originator of pizza rolls in 1967. Paulucci owned the Chun King company, which specialized in packaging Chinese food such as chop suey, chow mein, and egg rolls. Paulucci experimented and created the pizza rolls when he replaced the traditional egg roll filling with pizza topping ingredients. The market embraced the concept and led to the development of the product.
The success of the pizza rolls led Paulucci to establish a different company, Jeno’s, which specialized in the product. The company continued research and development on the product and came up with different flavors and fillings. They met commercial success, and Paulucci eventually sold the company to Pillsbury. Pillsbury continued to make the product until they were acquired and absorbed by General Mills. They rebranded the product into Totino’s, which still is in the market today.
Some food historians, however, say that the first person to come up with the idea for pizza rolls was A West Virginia man named Giuseppe Agiro. They say that Agiro was inspired when he saw miners eating their lunch. They ate sausage on the one hand, and they also had bread on the other hand. Agiro combined the two, and the customers loved it. After that, he developed other product variants, gradually coming up with rolls with ground beef, peppers, and cheese.
The pizza rolls timeline
- 1920Giuseppe Agiro came up with the concept for pizza rolls
Agiro, a West Virginia resident, saw miners eating their lunch. On the one hand, they held a sausage; on the other, they had bread. So he decided to combine the two, and the customers loved it. He also developed different flavors and came up with rolls filled with ground beef, cheese, and peppers.
- 1967Geno Paulucci and his brand of pizza rolls.
Some food historians pointed out that it was Paulucci who came up with the concept of pizza rolls when he replaced the fillings of an egg roll with ingredients of a pizza topping. The market embraced the idea, leading him to establish Jeno’s, a company that specialized in the product.
- 1985Jeno’s sold to Pillsbury
Jeno’s successfully manufactured the pizza rolls. As a result, they attracted the attention of bigger companies, specifically Pillsbury. Pillsbury bought Jeno’s in 1985, rebranding the pizza rolls as Totino’s.
- 2000sAlexia Foods NY improved the pizza roll
When the health craze swept through the food industry in the 2000s, Alexia Foods NY saw the chance to improve the pizza rolls. So the company made pizza rolls healthier by incorporating all organic fillings into the product claiming no preservatives are added.
Where were pizza rolls invented?
Jeno Paulucci created the pizza rolls in Duluth, Minnesota, in 1967. Paulucci, the owner of Chun King company, an enterprise that packaged and sold Chinese products such as chow mein, egg rolls, and chop suey, replaced the egg roll filling with pizza topping ingredients. The market embraced the idea, and the pizza rolls product line was born. The success of the product led Paulucci to establish Jeno’s.
The importance of pizza rolls
- Pizza rolls made eating convenient.
Pizza rolls made eating favorite Italian pizza dishes convenient. It made the pizza into a roll, served hot after a few minutes in the oven, toaster, or microwave.
- Pizza rolls innovated the food industry.
Pizza rolls innovated the food industry as they introduced a concept that customers appreciated. Food manufacturers found ways to produce different product variants to appeal to people.
- Pizza rolls made snacking appealing.
The presence of pizza rolls on the supermarket shelves provided a different option to over-the-counter snacks. The product is delicious, easy to prepare, and filling.
- Pizza rolls opened the food industry to new avenues.
Pizza rolls may seem pretty simple fare, but it is a favorite of many people. This led companies to research different avenues and opportunities for packaging, preparing, and manufacturing pizza rolls.
Pizza rolls by the numbers
- 16Totino’s sports sixteen different pizza roll flavors under its brand.
- 36Thirty-six pepperoni rolls is the current world record for eating pizza rolls. The current world record holder is Geoffrey Esper from Oxford, Massachusetts. There are other contenders to the record, but they’re not verified by accepted record-keeping organizations.
- 140The biggest commercially available bag of pizza rolls contains 140 pieces of the delicious, easy-to-prepare food.
- 210According to dieticians, a six-count serving of pizza rolls provides 210 calories, 3g of saturated fat, 2g of sugar, and 370 mg sodium.
Five facts about pizza rolls
- Pizza rolls are considered frozen food.
Pizza rolls are found in the frozen section of your supermarket. They come frozen and are readily prepared by placing them in the oven, microwave, or toaster for a few minutes according to package instructions.
- They come in different count size packaging.
Pizza rolls are quite a popular snack. They come in different count size packaging. There are packages of 15, 50, 100, 130, and 140 count sizes.
- Pizza rolls cook and taste better when placed in an oven.
According to customers, pizza rolls cook and taste better when placed in an oven. The crust becomes crisper, and they can flip the pizza rolls halfway through the cooking time to get perfectly cooked pizza rolls.
- Pizza rolls are high in calories.
Pizza rolls have a huge number of calories. A six-piece serving already has 210 calories and high fat content, with 70g of energy coming from fat. It also contains minimal protein, carbohydrates, and fiber.
- You could fry or bake pizza rolls.
You can either bake or fry your pizza rolls. If you don’t have an oven or a microwave, one option is to deep fry pizza rolls until they’re golden brown.
FAQs about pizza rolls
- Are pizza rolls healthy?
Pizza rolls have high calorie content, and they also contain high levels of fat. So while they are delicious, you should consider consuming them in moderation. There are vegan and all organic pizza rolls available in the market, which boast lower calories and better levels of fat and nutrients.
- How many pizza rolls make a pizza?
You need to prepare 78 pieces of pizza rolls if you want to recreate a whole pizza.
- Are pizza rolls pre-cooked?
Yes, pizza rolls are pre-cooked and then flash-frozen. Before enjoying them, you must thaw them and cook them according to package instructions.
- Where do you cook pizza rolls better?
Pizza rolls cook better in an oven. You can flip the rolls halfway through the recommended cook time to get an even crisp on the crust. Although you can cook them in a microwave or even deep-fry them, oven-cooked pizza rolls are still the best.
- How many calories are there in a six-piece serving?
According to dieticians, a single six-count serving of pizza rolls has 210 calories. It also contains 70 calories from fat, 8g of total fat (2g saturated fat), 340 mg of sodium, 5 mg of cholesterol, and 2 g of sugar. The serving also contains about 26 g of carbohydrates, 7 g of protein, and only a gram of fiber.