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Top pizza trends place pepperoni on top, thin crust on the bottom and a beer on the side

By Elizabeth Crawford

24-Feb-2016
Last updated on 24-Feb-2016 at 15:27 GMT2016-02-24T15:27:22Z

Source: iStock
Source: iStock

Vegetarian diets may be gaining traction in general in the US, but when it comes to pizza meat toppings still reign supreme, according to a Harris Poll released Feb. 23.

Pepperoni and sausage are Americans top two favorite pizza toppings and bacon and ham make it on the top 10 list, reveals a survey of 2,193 US adults conducted in January by the Harris Poll.

Veggies, on the other hand, dominate four out of five of the top least favorite pizza toppings listed by consumers – only coming in behind anchovies, which have been long frowned upon by US pop culture, the poll found.

More divisive than anchovies, are mushrooms, which come in at number three on the list of best toppings and number two on the list of worst toppings, the poll showed.

In addition, to mushrooms, plain cheese pizza and onion came in as vegetarian options in the fourth and fifth place of the most-loved toppings list, suggesting pizza-lovers have not fully turned their back on the vegetarian eating pattern.

No matter what the topping is, other research shows consumers are wanting higher quality options. Several CPG companies are responding to consumers’ desires for premium toppings by offering frozen pizza with organic meat and vegetables. These include Sonoma Flatbread and Smart Flour Foods

It’s all about the base

Americans are just as divided about the best type of crust as they are their favorite toppings, the poll also revealed.

“When it comes to crust style, there’s no majority rule though a plurality (29%) prefer thin crust,” according to the public opinion poll. From there the preference appears to be an inverse trajectory with decadence. Regular crust came in with 18% of the votes for the best type of crust followed by 15% for deep dish, 14% for stuffed crust and only 9% for thick crust.

A closer look reveals crust preferences divide by generation. Younger consumers tend to favor more decadent options with 26% of millennials preferring stuffed crust compared to only 6% of baby boomers. Likewise, 36% of boomers like thin crust compared to 15% of millennials. Gen Xers consistently fall in the middle of the other two generations.

Several CPG companies also are stepping up their crust-game by launching frozen pizzas with desirable better-for-you ingredients. For example, Against the Grain makes a grain-free base with buckwheat and Cappello’s recently launched a grain and gluten free line of frozen pizzas.  

As for the style of pizza most consumers want, New York’s large, thin, foldable slices won the top spot when pitted against Illinois, which took second and California in third.

That said, consumer preference for New York style verses Chicago’s deep dish varied slightly by region with most consumers preferring the type physically closest to them on a map, the poll shows.

All in on indulgence

As long as consumers are indulging in pizza, most also want to indulge in beer (54%) and wine (20%). Less than 10% choose malt beverages, cocktails or hard cider to sip with pizza.

Still, 20% opt for water, and in doing so likely save some calories in what likely is a heavy meal, the poll found.

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