The History of Pepperoni

It’s a favorite pizza topping, a must-have for a meat and cheese board, and even a fun way to spruce up a sub sandwich. Pepperoni has a ton of uses in our cuisine, and its history is actually quite the story. Like a lot of processed meats, it comes out of a search for unique flavors and has its origins coincide with 20th-century immigration to America, it’s a tale of a unique time in our history where cultures from all over the world were meeting in New York City.

Where Does Pepperoni Originate From?

Many believe pepperoni to be an Italian creation. In most of its popular uses, it’s used as a topping or meat for Italian dishes. In fact, pepperoni did come from Italy, but only in concept. The flavors found in pepperoni were often recreated in dishes, but not as complete processed meat. As Italian immigrants arrived to the United States at the end of the 19th century, they began using American ingredients to recreate their favorite flavors. In a loose translation, pepperoni means big peppers, as the flavors inside the meat come from a variety of peppers. With its salty and smoky flavor, it’s a favorite topping and meat for a variety of Italian American dishes.

Traditional Pepperoni Dishes

As we all know, pepperoni is a staple in a few dishes. Here is where it popped up originally upon its creation.

Pepperoni Rolls

In West Virginia, pepperoni rolls began popping up as soon as the meat made its way to the state. In a pepperoni roll, you have what is essentially a pepperoni calzone. Now, you can find calzones with all sorts of fillings in nearly every state.

Grilled Sandwiches

With New York and other Eastern states being very big on sub sandwiches, pepperoni found a home right away. Adding pepperoni to ham, salami, and other favorites became common nearly as soon as it hit the market.

Cheese Boards

Many love a good meat and cheese board, and pepperoni is seen as a great way to add a little spice to the mix. It’s also a perfect pairing with many common findings on a meat and cheese board.


Can we talk pepperoni without talking pizza? Of course not. Pepperoni pizza is as common as cheese pizza at this point. It’s a perfect pair for a red sauce, cheese, and crust, making it one of the first ways many try this unique meat.