Just about everybody loves pizza. There’s something about pizza dough topped with tangy tomato sauce and melty cheese that hits a universal “mmmmm” chord. But what is it, exactly, that makes us love pizza so much? The folks at Reactions, a YouTube channel produced by the American Chemical Society, explained the chemistry of pizza, diving into what makes each ingredient so delicious, and how they all work together to create sheer awesomeness.
Essentially, the video explains how the components of pizza “hustle your brain’s pleasure centers into overdrive,” via a “complex chemical symphony of flavor and texture.” The dough crisps up on the outside but remains soft and moist under the toppings, the sauce incorporates a sweet acidity, and the moist, soft mozzarella gets stretchy when it melts, adding “an awesome texture and mouthfeel to your pie.”
And when it all goes into the oven, the Maillard reaction, also called the browning reaction, extracts flavor compounds from the crust, toppings, and cheese as they brown.
So when you hear someone say that pizza is the perfect food, you have good reason to agree with them. When all of those components are cooked in a super-hot oven, something magical happens.