In what sounds like the best middle school science project ever, mozzarella has been put to the test against several other cheeses on pizza and declared the best. But scientists in New Zealand got to work with more than just poster board; they used fancy cameras and software to study the way cheeses behave when cooked, and, in the Journal of Food Science, called their paper "Quantification of pizza baking properties of different cheeses, and their correlation with cheese functionality."
Mozzarella, it turns out, is very elastic because it is made from fresh curds that are stretched and molded repeatedly. This elasticity allows bubbles to grow very large before bursting, and oil slides off those bubbles, allowing the tops of the cheese to brown. Other findings in the name of science: while cheddar lacks that stretch factor, it does brown evenly, whereas Gruyere bubbles great but doesn't brown well. "When we understand food right down to its micro-structural level, it gives us the levers we need to change the way it behaves," one researcher tells NPR, adding that this kind of investigation could lead to all sorts of little improvements in cooking, such as, perhaps, the development of a low-fat cheese that's just as tasty on pizza. (For more weird food science, check out why bacon smells so good.)