While for a time it was thought that Marco Polo returned from China in 1295 with pasta, there are Italian recipe books from twenty years earlier containing references to pasta dishes. However, it is certain that he did encounter pasta on his travels. Since China is an ancient civilization, with a complex culture dating back 5,000 years, it’s likely that pasta existed in China very early.
In the New World, pasta grew in popularity through the 18th century. By its end, it graced the table of Thomas Jefferson and commoner alike. When the American Ambassador returned from France in 1789 he brought with him a macaroni maker that he used to delight friends.
But it was with the large Italian immigration around the turn of the century that pasta really took off in America. Spaghetti, lasagna and a great many other forms became widespread as a result. With the ubiquitous consumption of pre-made dried macaroni and cheese during WWII, the dish became a staple of the American diet for decades after.
But whatever its true origins, and subsequent history, one thing is sure. Pasta is here to stay.