How Detroit’s Car Industry Helped Shape Its Pizzas

For a tasty and intriguing link between the Motor City’s industrial past and its culinary present, we don't need to look any further than its pizzas. Those not familiar with it might find some peculiarities when they see a Detroit-style square pizza for the first time. For starters, there’s the shape — it’s a rectangle, not a square. Next, the toppings are upside down. The pepperoni is pressed into the dough and then topped with cheese and tomato sauce. Still, the pizza’s oddest characteristic must be how long it’s taken people outside Detroit to notice these facts. Detroit-style pizza was created in 1946 at Buddy’s, a neighborhood tavern at the corner of Conant and Six Mile Roads in Detroit. The then owner, Gus Guerra, working with his wife Anna, whose mother was Sicilian, brought visionary thinking to his search for a high-sided pizza pan. While most people looked at the blue steel utility trays used at the Motor City’s auto assembly plants and saw only nuts, bolts, and thingamajigs, Guerra envisioned a Sicilian-like deep-dish pizza. The idea caught on, and it wasn’t long before other pizzerias began using the utility trays as pizza pans. The rest, as they say, is history.