I can see the brainstorm behind Ellis Island’s new “A Slice Of History—Pizza In America” exhibit: The museum’s staff is stuffed into a conference room full of white boards, tasked with capturing the elusive teen visitor attention span. (I visited Ellis Island as a preteen and, I’m ashamed to admit, found it insufferably boring.)
“What are the kids all about these days?” staff asks.
“TikTok and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos,” the intern replies.
“What about pizza though?”
And so, the History Of Pizza exhibit was born. The temporary exhibit will run through October, and will trace the arrival of pizza on America’s shores in the late 19th century courtesy of Italian immigrants. Ellis Island National Museum Of Immigration will chronicle the immigration stories of five New York-area pizza makers, including Johnny’s of Mt. Vernon, New York; Kesté of NYC; Nellie’s Place of Waldwick, New Jersey; NY Pizza Suprema of NYC; and Posa Posa of Nanuet, New York.
“Food is a tangible and fun way to connect our visitors to the story of immigration,” John Piltzecker, superintendent of the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island, said in a press release. “And who doesn’t love pizza?”
Thanks to a survey whose results were publicized this week, we know Americans think the biggest benefit of immigration is, yes, food. So maybe this is in fact a savvy way to help Americans understand that without immigrants, we’d be without some of our most beloved dishes and would probably still be eating corn porridge.