Legislators introduce bill to make pizza the official food of Connecticut

For fans of New Haven-style apizza, the perfectly-charred delicacy is as “Connecticut” as apple pie is American.

The love for apizza in Connecticut is so grand that two New Haven legislators are looking at adopting pizza as the official food of the state.

Proposed House Bill 5656 — drafted by Rep. Patricia Dillon, 92nd District and Sen. Gary Winfield, 10th District — has been submitted for the 2021 session.

The bill, which is one sentence long, attempts "to recognize the contribution of pizza to the state's cuisine and economy." The bill, if passed, would amend chapter 33 of the Connecticut general statutes, which currently includes the likes of state fish (American shad) and state folk dance (square dance).

If the bill is passed, pizza would be the first food-based item to be recognized by the state. It is one of more than 2,000 bills that have been introduced for the 2021 legislative session, which is expected to last until June.

As of Jan. 27, the bill was last referred to the joint committee on government administration and elections committee.

According to Rep. Dillon, she came up with the idea after being approached by New Haven activist Colin Caplan.

"It had been a grim year and I loved the opportunity to celebrate the joy in our lives," said Dillon in a statement to Hearst Connecticut Media. "[Also] who doesn't like pizza?"

Dillon expressed concerns for small businesses struggling amid the pandemic, specifically pizzerias, who have been forced to pivot their business models in order to meet the current health climate.

"Some have fared better than others in the pandemic depending on [the] location," Dillon said. "They're small businesses and Connecticut has one of the largest number of pizzerias per capita."

Caplan, author of the book Pizza in New Havenand contributor to Taste of New Haven, has started a petition to bring awareness to the bill.

"We, the people of Connecticut, and those born, raised, living, working, schooling, now, in the past or in the future, see pizza as a source of pride and appreciation for residents and businesses in the state and as an economic driver for the restaurant, pizzeria and tourism industry," reads a statement on the petition. "By signing this petition, you will help us show Connecticut Legislators that there is popular support for making pizza our state food."

The change.org petition currently has 243 signatures with the goal of getting at least 500 signatures.

In recent months, Connecticut pizzerias have made headlines — earning six of the top spots in The Daily Meal's "101 Best Pizzas in America" list.

Connecticut also has some of the oldest pizzerias in America, including Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, which was established in 1925 on Wooster Street in New Haven, and Zuppardi’s Apizza, which can trace its roots back to 1934.

In case the love for pizza in Connecticut was not evident enough, Gov. Ned Lamont went up to bat for Connecticut pizza against Gov. Phil Murphy after a poll named New Jersey the pizza capital of the country.