There are some tools out there that seem so inconsequential, most people wouldn’t give it a second thought. For example, have you ever wondered about the history of the pizza cutter? Most people just know it as a means of slicing up their favorite party food, but there’s quite a bit more to it than meets the eye. If you’re looking for an interesting dive into this unassuming device, here’s a quick look into the invention of the pizza cutter.
Who invented the pizza cutter?
Strangely enough, the first modern pizza cutter was an invention of David S. Morgan, who patented the device to help trim wallpaper. The first modern pizza cutter’s inventor probably never saw a pizza in his life, which is mindblowing when you think about it.
The pizza cutter’s key contributors (and evolution)
- Silvio PacittiInventor of the mezzaluna
The mezzaluna is the half moon kitchen knife, a large enough tool to cut through a whole pie. While the pizza cutter looks different, the mezzaluna is the predecessor.
- Daniel S. MorganPatented what would eventually become the modern pizza cutter
While Daniel S. Morgan invented the first pizza cutter, the initial use of the tool was for trimming wallpaper. These days, the modern pizza cutter can still be used to trim wallpaper if you wanted it to.
- William L. NoblePatented the smaller variant of the modern pizza cutter
Once again, this particular tool was not patented to be a pizza cutter. Instead, this small rotary knife was meant to trim cigar wrappers.
- Carl A. FrahmCreator of the cake cutter
The cake cutter was meant to cut raw dough before baking, but it just so happened to also be an excellent pizza cutter.
When was the pizza cutter invented?
The first familiar pizza cutter design was developed as early as 1862. However, it was not meant to cut pizzas but was used for carpentry where it trimmed wallpapers.
A brief history of the pizza cutter
The pizza cutter undoubtedly has a rich and interesting history, as the tool was first meant to do things other than cutting pizza. It all starts with the development of mezzaluna, the half moon knife. It was invented by Silvio Pacitti, and the mezzaluna changed the way food was prepared. In a lot of ways it trailblazer the preparation of various pies, including the pizza. Typically, you’d use a knife to drag along the food to cut it into portions. The mezzaluna instead applied pressure from up top, allowing equal slices without running the food in the process.
The next big step of pizza cutters came in 1862, when Daniel S. Morgan developed the patent for the so-called roller knife for trimming wallpaper. You read that right — one of the most iconic tools used in food preparation wasn’t developed for food at all. The circular blade roller was used specifically for carpentry. Even stranger, there would be another device in 1899 that further improves upon the design, creating the portable rotary knife which is meant to trim cigar wrappers.
It wasn’t until 1922 when the overall design of the rotary/roller knife was used for food. In this case, it was used for baking. Carl A. Frahm invented the cake cutter, which was used to help cut raw dough in preparation for different baking recipes. The great thing about this is it bridges the gap between the design of the rotary knife and the eventual use for pizza cutters.
There’s a science to the preparation of pizza, which is also connected to the mezzaluna, which can be used to cut pies such as the deep dish pizza into proper portions. Eventually, the design for the rotary knife evolved into the pizza cutter we know and love today.
The pizza cutter timeline
- 1708The mezzaluna
The mezzaluna is invented by Silvio Pacitti, and used to prepare food in an entirely new way. It helps blaze the trail for other similar device in the coming centuries.
- 1862The roller knife
The roller knife was invented by Daniel Morgan in 1862. While its primary use was for trimming wallpapers, it didn’t change the fact that the overall design would be revisited again and again.
- 1899The rotary knife
A smaller version of the roller knife, the design was patented by William Noble, and was invented to trim cigars wrappers.
- 1922The cake cutter
Carl Frahm invents the cake cutter, which is the closest precursor of the modern pizza cutter.
- 1958The modern pizza cutter in a hardware magazine
Finally, after years of being used for something else, the rotary knife is recognized as a pizza cutter!
Where was the pizza cutter invented?
The first pizza cutter was invented by Daniel S. Morgan in Asheville, North Carolina. The rest is pizza slicing history.
The importance of the pizza cutter
- An efficient and practical way to slice through pizza
The thing about pizza cutters is people tend to underestimate its overall use. The blade has to be built specifically so it doesn’t dull or melt when connecting with the hot cheese. While the first roller knife wasn’t built for pizza cutting, it is nonetheless the ideal device.
- All other knives don’t do as well
If you try to slice through pizza with other knives, you’ll find yourself having a much more difficult time than you might think. Having to drag a knife through a pizza tends to ruin the ingredients.
- The ideal example of an efficient tool
The pizza cutter is built specifically for efficiency, while still being considered a novelty due to its overall design. The first invention might not have been meant for pizzas, but it just goes to show how some inventions have multiple uses.
- No other reason to use anything else
Since the invention of the modern pizza cutter, all the other so-called improvements are more novelty than anything else. It makes for fun ways to slice pizza, but there’s no longer any reason to replace the timeless design of the pizza cutter.
Pizza cutters by the numbers
- 160The age of Daniel Morgan’s roller knife as of 2022.
- 2The number of primary pizza cutter variants. The first is the typical roller type, while the second is the rocker blade similar to the mezzaluna. Both types of pizza cutters still see plenty of use.
- 1958The year when the modern pizza cutter was introduced in a hardware magazine
- 482,830The patent number of Daniel Morgan’s roller knife. He probably never expected his device would grow to be so popular.
- 1,487,226The patent number of Carl Frahm’s cake cutter. Without this patent in particular, it might have taken a very long time for people to figure out that such a device would work great with pizza.
Five facts about the pizza cutter
- More than pizza
The cool thing about the pizza cutter is how you can use it for a variety of things. It was originally intended as a trimmer, which means anything that involves trimming — from wallpaper to dough — is possible through the pizza cutter.
- The importance of the wobble
You’ve probably noticed that the pizza cutter is known to wobble. That little bit of wobble is there to ensure that there’s no friction with the blade.
- The universal divider
When it comes to food, the pizza cutter can divide just about anything. While it can certainly divide pizzas, it can do the same thing for brownies, vegetables, and just about anything.
- A blade built for excellence
The blade of the pizza cutter is special, as it’s built to last. It’s something that won’t dull even when used on extremely hot dishes. That said, it’s also easy to sharpen as it shares the qualities of the typical knife.
- The largest pizza cutter
The world’s largest pizza cutter can found in front of the Great House of Pizza in Casey, Illinois.
FAQ about pizza cutters
- Why are pizza cutters so popular?
The simple fact is that no other tool comes close when it comes to the efficiency of cutting through pizza. The pizza cutter is something that will be relevant so long as the pizza remains one of the most popular dishes in the world.
- What should I look for in a pizza cutter?
Preferably, you should look for pizza cutters that prioritize safety over everything else. Pizza cutters can be very sharp, which means it’s always a good thing to have thumb guards and various other safety features in place.
- What’s the size of a standard pizza cutter?
The average pizza cutter is the standard four-inch model. Typically, the design is a mix between plastic and stainless steel.
- How long does a pizza have to sit before you can start cutting?
It’s a good idea to wait about five to ten minutes before you use your pizza cutter. While top-quality pizza cutters can get the job done even if it’s fresh from the oven, the five to ten minute wait will help make things easier.