From Motown music to automobiles to amazing athletes, many things have put the Motor City on the map. But the Motor City (and the surrounding metro Detroit area) is also one of the most popular pizza meccas in the United States.
A bigger spotlight may shine on traditional pizza cities like New York City and Chicago, but the taste of Detroit-style pizza style pizza speaks for itself and hungry consumers can’t seem to get enough!
Fun Fact: Detroit was recently named the Best Pizza City in America by a team of data scientists and researchers, who gave Detroit the nod over bigger cities in part due to its availability and affordability.
Detroiters, Michiganders, and those who just plain love pizza now have a new way to enjoy it in the Motor City after Visit Detroit recently announced the launch of the Detroit Pizza Passport.
This one-of-a-kind digital pass allows hungry devotees of pizza a chance to explore the best the Motor City can offer, from famous Detroit-style pies to classic hand-tossed pizzas to creative, tasty, unique pizza flavor fusions.
Interested customers can sign up on their phones (without downloading an app) and bookmark the pass page for easy access when they visit participating pizzerias. Those who have the passport can earn points when they visit participating locations and redeem them for cool prizes.
“Detroit’s pizza heritage is unlike any other, and the Detroit Pizza Passport lets visitors savor it all,” Visit Detroit President and CEO Charles Molinari said in a news release. “It’s a celebration of our city’s culinary creativity, and we can’t wait to take people on this delicious journey.”
A National Pizza Hotspot
New York is known for its foldable, street-style pizza. Chicago is famous for its deep-dish, restaurant-style slice. But Detroit’s square slice have given the city some serious skin in the pizza game and cravings for Detroit-style pizza have swept the nation.
The Motor City’s famous square pie with the thick, cheesy, chewy crust has won local awards, national awards, and can be found in specialty pizza joints all over the country in cities like Minneapolis, Las Vegas, New York City, and San Francisco.
Michiganders all have their favorite Detroit-style pizza spots, including Buddy’s Pizza, which first developed the famous pie in 1946 in Detroit at the corner of Six Mile Road and Conant Street. Other notable spots include Shield’s, Luigi’s the Original in nearby Harrison Township, and the national chain Jets.
Humble Beginnings in Michigan
Not only does Detroit have its own signature slice, but Michigan, particularly Metro Detroit, could be considered the birthplace of the pizza franchise.
Among the 15 biggest pizza chains in the United States, four of the top 11 were founded in Michigan and collectively, they have thousands of locations and bring in billions of dollars each year.
Domino’s Pizza, with its familiar white and blue domino logo, began in 1960 when brothers Tom and James Monaghan took over a small pizza chain in Ypsilanti, Michigan. It continues to be headquartered in Ann Arbor Township today.
Tom Monaghan had three locations in Washtenaw County by 1965, as represented by the three dots on the logo, and renamed the franchise Dominos at the suggestion of an employee.
The first franchise location opened in 1967 and the company had more than 200 locations by the late 1970s, offering a 30-minutes-or-its-free guarantee to customers for a number of years.
Since then, Domino’s locations have opened in many international markets, including China, India, Canada, Japan, and formerly in Italy.
Before he was the owner of the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Tigers, Mike Ilitch was a pizza maker who founded and operated “Little Caesar’s Pizza Treat” in Garden City, Michigan in 1959.
The first franchise location opened in 1962 and quickly became known in subsequent decades for its Little Caesar mascot, its “Pizza! Pizza! catchphrase (referring to its 2-for-1 pizza deals) and its “Hot-and-Ready” $5 pizzas (price varies by location) for hungry customers on the go.
Michiganders are well familiar with Little Caesar’s offerings, which can be found at more than 300 Michigan locations as well as sporting events in Detroit.
The self-proclaimed “Home of the Flavored Crust Pizza,” Hungry Howie’s, was founded in Taylor, Michigan in 1973 and is still headquartered in Madison Heights.
Pizzeria owner James Hearn opened the first Hungry Howie’s in 1973 and eventually partnered with delivery man Steve Jackson to franchise the business in the early 1980s.
The franchise had dozens of locations within the first three years and now has more than 500 locations in more than 20 states.
Hungry Howie’s famous flavored crust offerings began in 1985 after some initial testing and the company currently offers a lineup that includes garlic herb, sesame, ranch, and butter among others.
Jet’s Pizza was founded in Sterling Heights in 1978 and continues to be headquartered there today.
From the start, Jet’s was a family business. Brothers John and Eugent Jetts opened the first location in 1978 and later locations led to the creation of Jet’s America Inc, with two cousins as their partners.
Jet’s is known for its deep-dish Detroit pizza — the recipe for which is purported to have come from the Jetts’ mother. The company is also known for its eight-corner pizza and has more than 400 locations in 21 states.
Experience Detroit Pizza For Yourself
There’s little doubt that pizzerias in Detroit and the surrounding Detroit Metro area know how to make tasty pies, as evidenced by the local and national recognition they’ve received, the hundreds of locations nationwide, and thousands and thousands of hungry customers.
For customers who have never experienced Detroit-style pizza, the best thing to do is head to the Motor City and get a slice.
There’s plenty to see and do in Detroit and Metro Detroit, including visiting the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak, strolling through Eastern Market, exploring the award-winning Detroit Riverwalk, or even visiting a new Metro Detroit town.
Wherever your trip may take you, enjoying an authentic pizza from a local eatery only serves to enhance the adventure!