Food Delivery: A Brief Timeline

The Ancient Romans didn’t invent the concept of cooking food in one location and distributing it to another, but they did plant the seeds. In creating the thermopolium, the Romans basically established antique take-out restaurants, serving up food prepared by professional chefs to villagers who didn’t have their own kitchens.

The next step in the evolution of this idea is one you’re familiar with: pizza delivery. Instead of taking aim at the working class, super-rich Italians in Naples got the ball rolling on this concept in 1889, when the King and Queen decided they wanted pizza but didn’t feel like jostling around with commoners to satisfy their craving.

During the same time period, an innovate immigrant in Mumbai launched what may have been the world’s first food delivery business. When he noticed some other immigrant workers lacking lunches, he developed an intricate system for collecting home-cooked meals from across the city and distributing them to hungry laborers with astounding accuracy.

As we entered the 20th century, horse-drawn food and snack deliveries began to appear in American cities like New Orleans and New York. Pizza delivery started to catch on in the 1950s, but the pies tended to become soggy quickly, and due to poorly-designed bags, deliveries containing multiple pizzas often arrived in a jumbled mess.

You can thank the 1960s version of Domino’s Pizza for pushing pizza delivery to the forefront of American culture — or more specifically, the company’s development of the corrugated cardboard box as a delivery mechanism. It provided stability, ventilation for escaping steam, and the ability to stack multiple pizzas, allowing consumers to wave goodbye to loathsome, soggy pies forever.


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