Previous: The History of Pizza John!
Next: A Surprise Relationship Between John and Hank!



View count:348,183
Last sync:2023-05-11 05:30
In which John Green discusses the history of the world's most perfect food, which was impossible for almost all of human history, and then discusses the history of what was once England and the U.S.'s most common first name.

All this in response to Hank's History of Pizzamas video. Thanks to for the none pizza left beef joke and help with images.

Join the community at &
John's twitter -
John's tumblr -
Hank's twitter -
Hank's tumblr -
Ugghhh. Good morning Hank, it's Tuesday. It's morning, but I still see the moon and that star that you're probably gonna tell me tomorrow is actually a planet.  Alright, it's a little bit later and I'm in a better mood now. Plus I'm vlogging from the car; that always makes me happy. So Hank, I really enjoyed your history of the Pizza John design, but it made me wonder about the history of pizza, and also the history of Johns. We're gonna start with the history of pizza, but first we have to define what we mean when we talk about pizza. I mean, we live in an age of cheeseless pizza, and sauceless pizza, and none pizza with left beef.  Now some people say that pizza is just like bread with toppings, and so they trace it back to Ancient Egypt and India and Greece. But Hank, I think we all know that those people are wrong, I mean garlic naan is not pizza. Banana bread is not pizza. Pizza is bread and tomato sauce and cheese and possibly other. And by that definition, the history of pizza becomes a lot more interesting, because for almost all of human history, pizza was impossible. Pizza's central ingredients lived in entirely different worlds, Hank. In the Americas, there were delicious tomatoes. And in the rest of the world, there was wonderful cows' milk and bread. But then, Christopher Columbus. Now, Hank, as discussed in this video - and you will notice my excellent pointing skills. Anyway, the exchange between the Americas and the rest of the world that began with Columbus, in the late fifteenth century, was disastrous for life on Earth in many, many ways. But it did make pizza possible, and also like 90% of the foods that we now eat. I mean, hamburgers and french fries? There were no cows in the New World, no potatoes in the Old World. I mean, can you imagine going to a restaurant and being like, "hey, can I have a hamburger and French fries?", and them being like, "Well, you can have french fries, but if you want the hamburger ,you're gonna have to leave the Americas". Well, among the many New World foods that came to the Old World was tomatoes, which was initially believed to be poisonous, but it turns out that they are just dangerously delicious. And by the middle of the sixteenth century, in Naples, Italy, we had pizza as we know it today, with cheese, and tomato sauce, and bread and possibly other. But like most things, Hank, pizza didn't actually have an inventor, it had, like, millions of innovators. Like, for instance, the pizza in sixteenth century Naples tasted very little like pizza as we know it today. For one thing, it was sweet, like pizza literally means 'pie'. So the story of pizza is really a story of, like, humans coming together over thousands of generations and across continents to invent the perfect food. And that's what history is, really, Hank, it's not really about great individuals, it's this ongoing collaboration among the ninety six billion or so people who have lived here. Alright, Johns! John comes from the Hebrew name meaning 'God is gracious', and for, like, a thousand years it was the most popular name in England, until, like, I was born and then suddenly it became less popular. I'm trying not to take that personally. There's a few minor Johns in the Hebrew Bible, but the Johns really took off in the New Testament. I don't want to brag, Hank, but there are no Hanks in the New Testament, and there's some pretty vital Johns.  Like, there's the itinerant preacher John the Baptist, Jesus' apostle John... Historians disagree about whether there are other Johns in the Bible, and I'm going to steer clear of that argument because I'm no dummy! But anyway Hank, the most interesting thing I learned in my research is that the name John is not the same name as the name Jonathan. Jonathan comes from a different Hebrew word that means 'gift from God', and it's a longer form not of John, but of Nathan.  So there you have it Hank, a brief history of pizza and Johns. It happens to be lunchtime. You'll never guess what I'm having. Hank, I'll see you tomorrow.