Pizza Empires, Michigan Made

We eat a lot of pizza. In the U.S., approximately 3 billion pizzas are consumed each year, or 350 slices every second.

As a radio producer for Michigan Radio’s Stateside show, I always thought it would be fun to tell the story of why and how all of these national pizza chains – Little Caesars, Domino’s, Hungry Howies, and Jet’s – got their start right here in Michigan. If you’ve ever had a pizza delivered to your door anywhere in America, chances are it came from a Michigan-based pizza chain.

But we struggled to find a local expert who could tell the story from beginning to end, with all the greasy details. We found lots of experts in one field or another – just not someone who put all the pizza pieces together.

Then a couple of things happened.

In 2022 we ended up covering a few really heavy stories on our current events program, Stateside – auto insurance reform and catastrophic car accident victims, the aftermath of the Oxford High School shooting, and reproductive rights on the ballot. We were proud of the work, and it was necessary, but by the end of the year, we were all pretty wiped.

So we decided as a group to make our journalism in 2023 meaningful and fun. Yes, fun became a prerequisite. That’s when we decided to do the chain pizza origin story. And if we couldn’t find someone to tell the full story, we would just have to do it ourselves.

And so we kneaded the dough and slapped on the sauce, and our new podcast, Dough Dynasty, arose like a yeast crust. Dough Dynasty is a new, limited-run podcast series from Michigan Radio that tells the story of how and why Michigan became the pizza chain headquarters of the world, and how these chains shaped pizza as we know it today. In it, you’ll hear from chefs, pizza historians, everyday pizza eaters, and some of the business tycoons who put pizza on a global stage. The podcast tells this story over four weekly episodes, with an additional two bonus episodes.

Dough Dynasty launched on October 3rd and we think you’ll find it to be interesting, and yes, fun. Look for it on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts, or you can check it out at

Laura Weber Davis is the Executive Producer for Stateside on Michigan Radio. This article was posted in partnership with Michigan Radio.