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Pizzanomics
February 28, 2014 9:03 AM   Subscribe

You Should Always Get the Bigger Pizza (SL NPR blog post w/interactive graph)
posted by neroli (154 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
The obesity epidemic in a nutshell.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:08 AM on February 28 [17 favorites]


Jane, you ignorant slut.
posted by Curious Artificer at 9:09 AM on February 28 [15 favorites]


There's a local pizza place that sells a large 10 piece pizza for just over 3 times the price of a single slice. The problem is that the pizzas are so big I'd have to actually put some planning into transporting the full pizza's box around for the day, so I'm still paying $5 every few days like a sucker.

On preview: Yes! Jess Jiang gets me!
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 9:10 AM on February 28 [3 favorites]


Given the limited shelf life of a pizza, this statement only makes sense if it's one of those fancy "stays fresh for years" pizzas the military is developing.
posted by Cash4Lead at 9:14 AM on February 28


From the link posted by Curious Artificer: "more pizza is actually worse than less pizza."

This is exactly my feeling. There are few foods more disappointing to me than the "pile it on" school of American pizza. My belief is that pizza is vastly improved at the same price point simply by using lower quantities of higher quality toppings.
posted by slkinsey at 9:14 AM on February 28 [5 favorites]


Whoever came up with this graph never ordered a half-anchovy half-pepperoni pizza to share with their anchovy-hating kids.

Never, ever, ever, get a pizza with anchovies on only one side. In fact, if you want an anchovy pizza and any sort of other pizza, get them from two different pizza places and eat them in separate rooms.
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:14 AM on February 28 [16 favorites]


The deal only gets better as dimensionality increases. I think most businesses have no idea just how much of a discount they're giving on their larger hyperpizzas.
posted by invitapriore at 9:15 AM on February 28 [32 favorites]


There's a local pizza place here that has this all figured out. They spread the same amount of toppings over the same area no matter what size pizza you order: an XL pizza is just a small pizza in the center of a big ol' empty crust.
posted by ook at 9:16 AM on February 28 [7 favorites]


You Should Always Get the Bigger Pizza

This is true if the only thing for which you are optimizing is "ratio of pizza to money", but for many of us this is not actually what we care about most; in fact, if I get twice as much pizza for fifty cents more but only eat half of it I've more-or-less wasted fifty cents. Also, sometimes I just don't want more; maybe I'm trying to lose weight or eat less pizza or carry less stuff around or whatever.

I sometimes get a surprising amount of judgement in the supermarket for buying, say, one thing of orange juice when it's actually buy one get one half off, but I don't actually want two cartons of orange juice! I'll just waste one and they're heavy and I don't need them, but the cashier will act like I'm a horrible rich person for refraining from taking advantage of the special orange juice deal. In Coldstone Creamery, too, the manager once tried really hard to bully us into getting the next biggest size of ice cream because it was only one cent more, but we didn't want more ice cream. We knew what we wanted and we ordered it and having our choices questions because one cent is not a lot of money was really unpleasant.

People optimize for different things and sometimes the price per unit of pizza is not the most important consideration.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 9:16 AM on February 28 [34 favorites]


Once a pizza becomes big enough that it has to be cut into squares instead of proper slices, it is no longer an optimal pizza.
posted by jbickers at 9:17 AM on February 28 [11 favorites]


Somebody should keep this guy away from Costco
posted by cacofonie at 9:18 AM on February 28 [23 favorites]


People optimize for different things and sometimes the price per unit of pizza is not the most important consideration.

Quoting myself, I meant to add, I also find it really insulting and confrontational when people assume they know what I want better than I do and are trying to run my life based on their metrics.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 9:18 AM on February 28 [5 favorites]


The deal only gets better as dimensionality increases. I think most businesses have no idea just how much of a discount they're giving on their larger hyperpizzas.

Pizza spheres are where it's at.
posted by kmz at 9:23 AM on February 28


The best sized pizza is the pizza that can be eaten completely within 18 hours without anybody involved blowing way past a sane calorie count.
posted by wotsac at 9:23 AM on February 28 [7 favorites]


From the counterpoint linked twice in the comments already...
"That's just a geeky way of saying that, at some point, more pizza is actually worse than less pizza.

This idea might be foreign to, say, teenagers and college kids. But for most people, there's a point at which more pizza makes you less happy. You don't want to eat it, but you have to lug it home, find room for it in the fridge, then throw it out when it goes bad. Or maybe you know you'll eat it at 2 a.m. and be very unhappy with yourself."
Except...

1) I have my 'za delivered.
2) Fuck refrigeration, I leave that shit out for days! (and yeah, I have chicken and bacon on it and even sometimes ranch (a little sketchier, I know), or sometimes a pepperoni one instead).
3) Fuck yeah, eat tat shit at 2 am.

True, true, stale pizza sucks, so if it's more than a day, it's starting to get crappy. I do usually get a 14" to last me a couple days. 16" is a bit much, but I see no reason NOT to get it. Leave it out. It'll be fine. All the whiny fearful people about food poisoning or whatever. You'll be fine. Eat that shit within a day and you're golden.
posted by symbioid at 9:26 AM on February 28 [13 favorites]


jbicker, how big is that, because... you know. NY STYLE!!!! It must be pretty damn big to have to cut into squares.
posted by symbioid at 9:27 AM on February 28


Any pizza is a personal pizza if you believe in yourself and try hard enough.
posted by Daddy-O at 9:27 AM on February 28 [148 favorites]


I'm concerned with the size of the pizza, but I'm also concerned with the size of the slices.

I mean, that's Pizza Feminism 101 stuff.
posted by box at 9:31 AM on February 28 [3 favorites]


Like a personal pizza from Pete & Elda's...
posted by Gronk at 9:32 AM on February 28


New York pizza, like DC Jumbo Slice, is thin and flexible and can therefore be used as a blanket when you have consumed sufficient pizza.

*curls up under a slice of pizza and naps the rest of the day*
posted by capricorn at 9:32 AM on February 28 [6 favorites]


When I was a teenager, it was all about maximizing the calories. Now I have an adult metabolism, which means maximizing taste. In pizza terms, that means spending more for smaller but far tastier pizzas from better places and leaving the huge crappy pizzas alone.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:34 AM on February 28 [5 favorites]


For all that the thesis is overstated, there is a point here: people should think of splitting dishes more often. If there are, say, three of you and you can all agree on the kind of pizza you want, it makes much more sense to buy one large and split it than three "individual" pizzas. Given the size of servings in most US restaurants, you could routinely make a habit of splitting one entree between two diners, as well; though that's a somewhat different issue.
posted by yoink at 9:34 AM on February 28 [6 favorites]


Oh. This is about COST. I thought it was gonna be about how bigger pizzas bake better and turn out with more evenly browned cheese and chewier crust. THAT'S the only variation I care about.
posted by cthuljew at 9:35 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]


You also get less crust proportionately on bigger pizzas. If you're really into crust, that only increases at the circumference rate, not the area one.

It's the same deal as my disappointment about how giant pocky has way more cookie than chocolate compared to regular pocky.
posted by NoraReed at 9:35 AM on February 28 [2 favorites]


The only problem with his argument: negative marginal returns on pizza.

That's just a geeky way of saying that, at some point, more pizza is actually worse than less pizza.


Fucking NPR man, can't get anything right. negative marginal returns does not mean that more pizza is worse than less pizza, its just that the 11th slice is less satisfying than the 10th slice.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:36 AM on February 28 [7 favorites]


I think most businesses have no idea just how much of a discount they're giving on their larger hyperpizzas.

Eh, I'm not so sure. Different pricing for different sizes is both meant to entice a customer out of a little more money (where the utility of having a larger pie exceeds the cost), but also reflects the cost of inputs. I think when a business charges a little more for a twice as large pizza is because the larger size doesn't cost the business twice as much. Yes, the materials to make a pizza scale geometrically, but a small pizza and big pizza still require about the same amount of labor and nearly similar amounts of oven time (this is assuming a big ass oven). And that's not even mentioning that there might be similar pricing effects that the business faces when purchasing dough, pepperoni, cheese, and pizza boxes (that is, another 100 pounds of dough costs a little more than the first 100).

I think it's the same pricing effect of a small drink and a large drink costing nearly the same. And when you consider that this pricing effect also creates more predictive behavior in a certain size (there's a standardization effect), then businesses can even more effectively take advantage of mass production.
posted by FJT at 9:36 AM on February 28 [7 favorites]


Eight Nine Ways Being Poor is Wildly Expensive in America
posted by univac at 9:37 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]


Why pay sky-high pizza parlor prices when you can simply
Open a jar
Of Pizza Quick Sauce
And open your own
Pizzaria
?
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:37 AM on February 28 [7 favorites]


The pizza place wants you to go for the "better" deal because the limited resource isn't dough, sauce or toppings (those are all on hand and will go bad if kept around too long, so you really want to use as much as possible). Instead the limited resource is you being in the store to make a purchase. You're probably going to buy one thing, and you're probably not going to come back soon (at least if there are a lot of options for dining). Therefore they want to maximize the sale. You get a "better" deal by maximizing your pizza, but however much more food the pizza place is giving you is far outweighed by the reduced opportunity cost of having made you spend more money in the sale.

That's why movie theaters have such ridiculous price differences between different soda sizes. The economic part of your thought process sees, well, duh the super large is only 50 cents more and you get so much more soda! But then you don't drink the soda. You would've been fine buying the medium and getting a "worse" deal, but the movie theater would've lost out on the one purchase you made for your trip there.

This is like sleight of hand trick called the magician's choice. You're making your customer feel good by offering the illusion of choice, while railroading them into a single choice that's optimal for your business. People would hate being forced to only have a single option for a drink that cost $5.50, but you offer them a drink for $5.50 which seems like a better deal than the one for $4.80 (you're getitng 100% more soda!) and they're more likely to go for it.
posted by codacorolla at 9:40 AM on February 28 [39 favorites]


I think when a business charges a little more for a twice as large pizza is because the larger size doesn't cost the business twice as much. Yes, the materials to make a pizza scale geometrically, but a small pizza and big pizza still require about the same amount of labor and nearly similar amounts of oven time (this is assuming a big ass oven).

Yes, it is indeed the case that prices don't scale linearly because of the amortization of fixed costs, among other reasons, but at the peril of explaining my own joke that wasn't quite what I was getting at.
posted by invitapriore at 9:43 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]


FJT, this is interesting. It brings to question the issues of the value of labor into the cost of these "supersizing" and the savings to the corporation via extraction of labor value even though the material input might potentially be a losing proposition. It makes me think about that issue regarding overtime, and how any time over like, the first four hours goes to corporate profit (I can't recall where I read that, and that might be generous (or not)). Regardless, it seems a similar effect is in play here. How much does that contribute to our current "supersizing" capitalistic consumer economics of food?

Would there be a point where the cost of labor vs the cost of material in these "supersize" scenarios offset each other so that this facet of modern industrial food production (and I'm thinking of "king size candy bars" as well, and "super large slurpees" etc...) would be eliminated or at least reduced to a degree (i.e. if you can't save on labor, you have to save on material)?

Or would we just run into an ever larger amount of material for more prices to offset the cost? I suppose it becomes a "what would the market bear" in terms of increasing costs. But we see that things like downsizing portions is happening (instead of raising costs, repackaging food in smaller sizes, like Randy Taylor, The Angry Jimmy Dean Sausage Guy complains about).

Interesting stuff to consider.
posted by symbioid at 9:43 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]


Sometimes the cheaper option is garlic bread(sticks) w dipping sauce and the smaller pizza. I used to eat extra large pizzas by myself when I waa a teenager, so I'm very experienced at calculating pizza value.
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:47 AM on February 28


Planning a party for our student workers, I had to explain to my Chair, for what seemed like a really long time, that, yes, the pizzas I was ordering were more expensive, but they were 18" rather than 16" pizzas, and that was considerably bigger, so we could order fewer pizzas. And my Chair was "that's only 2" bigger!," and I had to get out my calculator and show how areas of circles worked. Math! It's not just for breakfast!
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:49 AM on February 28 [17 favorites]


This was an astonishingly uninformed 'analysis', coming from a source with "the economy explained" as a tagline.
posted by ceribus peribus at 9:49 AM on February 28


I once tried to explain this to one of my co-workers at a pizza joint and ended up giving an 30-minute explanation of what exponents are and how they work.
posted by dudemanlives at 9:51 AM on February 28 [7 favorites]


What that graph is telling me is that if you want the cheapest price per square inch you are best off buying several 10' pizzas at that ONE SPECIFIC PLACE!
posted by vacapinta at 9:51 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]


74,476 Reasons You Should Always Get The Bigger Pizza

1. You're hungry enough to eat the larger pizza, and you always eat the crust.
2 - 74,476. You can't remember the formula for the area of a circle to determine which size pizza is actually the best value at the place you are going to be ordering pizza from.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:53 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]


One of my favorite things about living with nerds in college is that we did this math AGES ago. We called all the local pizza joints and got the radius of their pizzas and figured out the surface area of pizza to price ratio and then bought accordingly. We kept doing this and would recalculate with coupons. I still do this now. Which is why Costco rules.
posted by sleeping bear at 9:55 AM on February 28 [5 favorites]


This should be surprising to nobody who knows the story of the founding of Carthage.
posted by axiom at 9:56 AM on February 28 [4 favorites]


The volume of a pizza with radius Z and depth A is PI*Z*Z*A.

(yeah I know I've mentioned that before)
posted by w0mbat at 10:02 AM on February 28 [57 favorites]


When I get a soda at the movies it's only 25 cents more for the massive 64 ounce size.

Now, I'm not an asshole, I can definitely drink that much Diet Coke in 2 hours.

But handling that much soda is like driving a dump truck. So I downsize to the nimble Miata that is the 44oz. Worth every extra cent.
posted by mullacc at 10:03 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]


f I get twice as much pizza for fifty cents more but only eat half of it I've more-or-less wasted fifty cents.

What...what does this phrase "only eat half" mean?
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:05 AM on February 28 [14 favorites]


This should be surprising to nobody who knows the story of the founding of Carthage.

I never order from Dido's after their Enough Pizza To Go Around Your House promotion.
posted by Etrigan at 10:06 AM on February 28 [4 favorites]


You Should Always Get the Bigger [anything]

cthuljew: Oh. This is about COST. I thought it was gonna be about how bigger pizzas bake better and turn out with more evenly browned cheese and chewier crust. THAT'S the only variation I care about.

Yup. Someone spent time plotting a graph of value vs size for pizzas, when it's a common ploy to upsell people on quantities they cannot use, due to shelf life or the necessary size to store the extras.

You could buy everything in bulk and save a ton in the long term, but do you have space for 25 lb of flower and 10 lb of sugar? Will you use it before insects find a way into your flower container? Can you even drink two gallons of soda before it goes flat? Probably not, but it only costs you a fraction more than the size you can consume in a reasonable amount of time, and the retailer is still making a profit.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:09 AM on February 28


You people buy pizza?

Do you also get buttered toast delivered?
posted by srboisvert at 10:10 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]


What...what does this phrase "only eat half" mean?

This is also a good point -- no matter how much pizza there is, I will eat it. I will feel terrible and disgusting and my doctor will not be happy, but I will eat it. Paying a worse rate for less pizza is helping to subsidize a (relative) lack of shame.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 10:11 AM on February 28 [4 favorites]


You people buy pizza?

My oven only goes to 550F.
posted by bgrebs at 10:12 AM on February 28 [11 favorites]


The guilt term in my personal utility function has a pretty high coefficient in front of it, which is why I frequently do not get the largest possible size of the thing.
posted by invitapriore at 10:12 AM on February 28 [4 favorites]


the nimble Miata that is the 44oz

It's only a nimble Miata in that it is the actual size of a Miata. Small for a car, but still a fucking enormous drink.

(Go for the slush. A non-ridiculous amount lasts the whole movie.)

Worth every extra cent.

But -- and this is another huge problem with the thesis of the linked article -- you're not spending any extra cents. You're saving 25¢ (and your excretory system).
posted by Sys Rq at 10:13 AM on February 28


You people buy pizza?

Do you also get buttered toast delivered?


What part of fuck it, let the minimum wage peon cook for me tonight is unclear to you?
posted by MartinWisse at 10:15 AM on February 28 [16 favorites]


Eh, I'm more in the mood for Chinese.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:15 AM on February 28


Yeah, barring the effect of other factors like satisfaction derived from making your own, saving on ingredients, etc., if your homemade pizza is as good as what the local pizza places make, either your local pizza places suck, you have specialized equipment, or your taste for pizza diverges significantly from the mainstream.
posted by invitapriore at 10:16 AM on February 28 [3 favorites]


you're not spending any extra cents.

Goddamnit I'm an idiot. You're right. I spent less money. But I also got to drink less Diet Coke. And I spent more per ounce. Anyway, my point is that it was worth it to make an absurd Miata analogy.

Go for the slush.

GTFO
posted by mullacc at 10:18 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]


The difference in cost between a short and tall mocha at Starbucks is minimal, but my liver thanks me for my extravagant ways.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:19 AM on February 28


Pizza made at home isn't pizza. It's a flatbread.
posted by mullacc at 10:19 AM on February 28


Better living through geometry!
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:20 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]


There's a reason fancy pizza makers are called pizzaYOLOs.
posted by invitapriore at 10:22 AM on February 28 [2 favorites]


I suppose if I was living by myself, it would make sense to order the smaller pizza while sitting along at home on Friday while crying bitter tears of loneliness. But since I have a partner, a single large pizza will make for dinner and lunch, and an extra large will make for two dinners, no problem.

The other time I order a pizza is at group events, and it's cheaper and easier to order a couple of huge pizzas with generally agreed upon toppings, then get a bunch of small pizzas.
posted by happyroach at 10:28 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]


One of my favorite things about living with nerds in college is that we did this math AGES ago. We called all the local pizza joints and got the radius of their pizzas and figured out the surface area of pizza to price ratio and then bought accordingly. We kept doing this and would recalculate with coupons. I still do this now. Which is why Costco rules.

While individual pizza joints can be expected to be roughly consistent on density of their pizza (with exceptions for the ones who use the same amounts of toppings on multiple sizes), there's no way this is going to net you useful comparisons restaurant to restaurant. You can't compare an 18 inch thin crust to an 18 inch deep dish for the sustenance each contained and that's not even touching on whether each one tastes good. Unless you were comparing calorie:price and not the surface area of the pizza. It's apples and oranges.
posted by NoraReed at 10:29 AM on February 28


Pizza made at home isn't pizza. It's a flatbread.

Or not. Sure, you can't make a proper pizza in an oven that only goes to about 500F. But if you have a barbecue? Crank that fucker up until it's almost melting, throw your pizza on the grill for a minute. Flip, throw on toppings, close the lid for a minute or two. Pizza, nicely blistered.

There's a reason fancy pizza makers are called pizzaYOLOs.

You go to hell. You go to hell and you die.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:32 AM on February 28 [5 favorites]


It's apples and oranges.

Damned odd pizza toppings.
posted by yoink at 10:33 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]


I dunno, yoink. The best pizza joint in Toronto does a gorgeous pizza with gorgonzola, pears, and duck confit.

You will not believe me but it is even better than it sounds.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:36 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]


Once a pizza becomes big enough that it has to be cut into squares instead of proper slices, it is no longer an optimal pizza.

Not always true. Slightly stronger crust, more sauce, and you're good to go. Middle pieces will be enjoyable because of their profusion of cheese and tomato; crust pieces will be enjoyable, because browned.
posted by Iridic at 10:36 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]


You will not believe me but it is even better than it sounds.

It sounds pretty damn fantastic, so the taste must be out of this world.
posted by yoink at 10:37 AM on February 28


The middle pieces suck because there is no good way to hold them.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:37 AM on February 28 [2 favorites]


I had a pizza in Spain with a pumpkin cream sauce and it was the best pizza I've ever eaten. So I don't rule out pizza toppings anymore.
posted by Night_owl at 10:38 AM on February 28


At some point, more pizza is actually worse than less pizza.

I'm no theologian, but I'm pretty sure this is some kind of blasphemy.
posted by knuckle tattoos at 10:38 AM on February 28 [11 favorites]


Declining marginal utility does not apply to pizza.
posted by triggerfinger at 10:38 AM on February 28 [3 favorites]


Damned odd pizza toppings.

I guess using a food cliche in something about food doesn't work well. I should've said that doing this is the spherical cow of pizza efficiency.
posted by NoraReed at 10:38 AM on February 28


I really don't understand anything about this thread. Pizzas come in sizes? It's undesirable to have leftovers? This is not a world I want to live in.
posted by uncleozzy at 10:40 AM on February 28 [5 favorites]


You should always get the largest pizza, because breakfast refrigerator pizza is fucking delicious.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:41 AM on February 28 [17 favorites]


The deal only gets better as dimensionality increases. I think most businesses have no idea just how much of a discount they're giving on their larger hyperpizzas.

Pizza spheres are where it's at.


Once you get past five dimensions or so, you're going to wish you'd gotten a pizza cube.
posted by Jpfed at 10:41 AM on February 28 [3 favorites]


One of the worst pizzas I've ever had was smoked salmon, pesto, capers, goat cheese. Seems nice in theory but the salt oh my god the salt so much salt
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:42 AM on February 28 [2 favorites]


Seems nice in theory but the salt oh my god the salt so much salt

Surprised they didn't brine the fucker before throwing it in the oven!
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:45 AM on February 28 [2 favorites]


You should always get the largest pizza, because breakfast refrigerator pizza is fucking delicious.

The older I get the less I enjoy cold pizza the next morning. It's gummy and the starches aren't gelated properly anymore and it's just no fun to eat really.

Then again that's not so much something I have to worry about anymore; we ordered 241 pizza the other night and I watched in some awe as my boyfriend took down almost a pizza and a half with nary a breathing break.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:45 AM on February 28


The Pizza Hut buffet is infinite square inches per dollar, and that's not even counting the chocolate pudding in the salad bar!
posted by michaelh at 10:46 AM on February 28 [3 favorites]


As a man who has created spreadsheets not only to calculate pizza area, bit also to attempt to calculate the best possible ways to specify any given custom topped pizza, I feel this thread has brought me significantly closer to understanding just why I feel so at home here at metafilter.
posted by ominous_paws at 10:47 AM on February 28 [2 favorites]


negative marginal returns does not mean that more pizza is worse than less pizza, its just that the 11th slice is less satisfying than the 10th slice.

Wait hold on what? Negative marginal return does in fact imply that the total return has decreased. It is true that a negative rate of increase in the marginal return doesn't.
posted by invitapriore at 10:48 AM on February 28 [2 favorites]


Surprised they didn't brine the fucker before throwing it in the oven!

Let's just say it wasn't a restaurant that makes particularly astute choices when combining ingredients.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:49 AM on February 28


when a counterperson asked yogi berra if he wanted his pizza cut into four pieces or eight pieces, he replied that he didn't think he could eat eight pieces.
posted by bruce at 10:50 AM on February 28 [2 favorites]


It brings to question the issues of the value of labor into the cost of these "supersizing" and the savings to the corporation via extraction of labor value even though the material input might potentially be a losing proposition.

I can't come up with a good scenario (at least dealing with pizza) where that would be the case. The labor required to make a 18" pie is basically the same as required to make a 16" pie, or really, really close to it. This is particularly true in a high-volume pizza shop where they have tools for rapidly pressing the dough, cutting the pizza, etc.

If the labor inputs scaled linearly with the area of the pizza (i.e. the amount of product produced), then they wouldn't be able to offer the pricing schemes that they currently do. The economics would be entirely different. You'd probably have to charge according to the number of square inches with maybe a slight discount on the materials as you scaled up to encourage people to buy big... it'd be like any other labor-based business where you can only give very slight discounts.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:52 AM on February 28


michaelh: "The Pizza Hut buffet is infinite square inches per dollar, and that's not even counting the chocolate pudding in the salad bar!"

That doesn't count because Pizza Hut doesn't sell pizza. I don't know what that stuff is but it ain't pizza.
posted by Big_B at 10:54 AM on February 28 [3 favorites]


I'm confused by people talking about excess left-over pizza. If there is not another person there and you put down a typical 14" pizza in front of me, without thinking I will eat the whole thing. I might feel like a bit of a glutton after, but I'll still eat the whole thing. And any piece I don't eat right away I'll eat later. It's like look I have lunch for the next 3 days, yay! If it's thin crust veggie pizza you don't even have to re-heat it. It's a proven fact that cold thin crust veggie pizza is better than warm pizza of the same style, especially when paired with warm/flat soda or beer.
posted by MrBobaFett at 10:55 AM on February 28 [3 favorites]


feckless fecal fear mongering: "One of the worst pizzas I've ever had was smoked salmon, pesto, capers, goat cheese. Seems nice in theory but the salt oh my god the salt so much salt"

This sounds fantastic to me, probably because it's my favorite bagel.
posted by Big_B at 10:55 AM on February 28


michaelh: "The Pizza Hut buffet is infinite square inches per dollar, and that's not even counting the chocolate pudding in the salad bar!"

Yeah, but it's time bound. It would only be infinite if it never closed.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:56 AM on February 28 [2 favorites]


sleeping bear: "Which is why Costco rules."

No, Costco rules because that is the best hangover pizza in America.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:58 AM on February 28


At some point, more pizza is actually worse than less pizza.

I'm no theologian, but I'm pretty sure this is some kind of blasphemy.


Agreed. Pizza is the holy food. Even bad pizza is good pizza. More pizza is always better than less pizza. Pizza is not just a dish, it is a meal, and it is a meal you can eat any time of the day, any number of days of the week.
posted by MrBobaFett at 10:58 AM on February 28 [4 favorites]


the spherical cow of pizza efficiency.
Damned odd pizza topping.
posted by MtDewd at 10:59 AM on February 28 [4 favorites]


Related: How much pizza costs, by neighborhood. They don't have my area, because I do not live in a big important metropolis, but Chicago, LA, D.C.and Philly are all in there.

Some stuff is not cost-effective to buy in large, warehouse sizes, like mayonnaise (which I am all ewwww about anyway) and other perishables, or anything that comes in huge containers you just don't have the storage space for.

But pizza? If you don't just leave it out in a cardboard box and actually, you know, put it in a decent container in the fridge, leftover pizza means easy lunches for the next couple days! Even if you don't eat it all and throw out a piece or two, you still come out ahead by buying the larger size.

And you know I love you, Mrs. Pterodactyl, but orange juice at buy one, get one free? That's like manna from heaven! Good OJ --the real, fresh-squeezed oranges kind, of course, not sugary juicy juice--is EXPENSIVE! But, refrigerated, it will keep for ages and make any breakfast yummier. Pass up the BOGO chips, sure, but grab that BOGO OJ while the getting's good and revel in your good fortune!
posted by misha at 10:59 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]


I can't come up with a good scenario (at least dealing with pizza) where that would be the case. The labor required to make a 18" pie is basically the same as required to make a 16" pie, or really, really close to it.

It's so close, honestly, that it makes no difference at all. The difference in materials cost will be greater from 16" to 18", probably by a couple orders of magnitude, than the difference in labour cost.

In real terms in a restaurant, for a lot of preparations your labour cost is functionally no different if you're making one portion or twenty. In fact, one portion will cost you proportionally more--you're putting an hour of labour into serving one person, instead of an hour of labour serving twenty. (I don't have citable research to back this up; it's from experience. I've worked out at times how much prep is involved in a given dish, and noticed how the time spent doesn't change when quantities are scaled up. To a certain point of course. The difference between 1 and 10 is negligible; between 10 and 100 there's obviously a difference.)

This sounds fantastic to me, probably because it's my favorite bagel.

Which you're eating at room temperature, meaning less intense flavours, meaning you perceive less salt. Heat that bagel up to pizza temperature and you'll suddenly wonder why the fuck you are eating concentrated ocean.

grab that BOGO OJ while the getting's good and revel in your good fortune!

Plus freezing orange juice does approximately nothing to its taste or texture, so the second can theoretically be kept indefinitely. I say theoretically because if I have good OJ in the house it just doesn't last long.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:00 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]


In addition to labour costs are we factoring in delivery? A large costs no more than a small to deliver, and here in the UK that comprises half of the price of any pizza (insofar as standard practice in the major chains is to offer a massive 50 per cent discount of you collect)
posted by ominous_paws at 11:07 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]


I feel that this article should be accompanied by a picture of the Statue of Liberty shedding a tear of joy as in Onion editorial cartoons.
posted by Flunkie at 11:09 AM on February 28


NoraReed: "It's the same deal as my disappointment about how giant pocky has way more cookie than chocolate compared to regular pocky"

See also, Kit-Kat Chunky.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:13 AM on February 28 [2 favorites]


You people buy pizza?
My oven only goes to 550F.


My oven's thermostat only goes up to 550F, but with the "broil" setting I can get my pizza stone up to 650. Also, remote infrared thermometers are awesome

In addition to labour costs are we factoring in delivery?

The original article was about a visit to a pizza place. Which reduces the overhead of getting you the pizza and collecting your money, but it's still not zero.
posted by aubilenon at 11:14 AM on February 28


Actually the overhead for delivery is lower than that for in-store.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:16 AM on February 28


If there are, say, three of you and you can all agree on the kind of pizza you want, it makes much more sense to buy one large and split it than three "individual" pizzas.
Well... OK... I guess... but you need to be aware going into this that I'm not the one who's only getting two slices.
posted by Flunkie at 11:16 AM on February 28 [3 favorites]


Fff, in store as in eat in store or collect from store? If the latter, how so? That's interesting.
posted by ominous_paws at 11:18 AM on February 28


Well... OK... I guess... but you need to be aware going into this that I'm not the one who's only getting two slices.

Assuming a pizza is a circle with 360°, then you'd just need to have 9 equal pieces of 40° arc each. Like this.
posted by Celsius1414 at 11:23 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]


Delivery = less overhead. You don't need a dining room for starters, and you can probably convince the poor high school/college kids that getting to drive your own car for work is awesome (even when you aren't compensated).
posted by Big_B at 11:25 AM on February 28


In-store pickup implies a bunch of infrastructure that delivery doesn't have. So while delivery costs contribute to your total overhead, it's a smaller proportion per pizza than the bricks-and-mortar location overhead. You're not paying for the actual vehicle, just insurance + shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiitty pay for the drivers (because tips).

I'm relatively sure that at least two delivery places in Toronto (a pizza chain and an ersatz Chinese chain) have essentially moved to delivery-only, eliminating a bunch of overhead. Not least that they can consolidate kitchen operations in a location that doesn't need to be pedestrian or (customer) driver friendly. Decor, signage, etc etc--all gone. Cheaper physical location without some of the fixed costs you'd need in a customer-facing business.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:28 AM on February 28


Is there a principle in economics that accounts for a "shame/integrity factor"? Serious question. Modeling human behavior for pizza consumption - and lots of other things, really, but especially pizza - HAS to take into account "the point at which you lose respect for yourself."
posted by naju at 11:34 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]


I violently dispute the above premise.
posted by ominous_paws at 11:34 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]


"the point at which you lose respect for yourself."

The Taco Bell thread is over there.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:40 AM on February 28 [2 favorites]


A different way (a better one, I think) to frame this data is to point out how the stores inflate the price of smaller pizzas because they want to make roughly the same profit amount from each one regardless of size. The large ends up being only a little more expensive because it only costs slightly more to make. Giving them the same fixed profit for a half sized order results in a much higher per-slice cost.
posted by ceribus peribus at 11:40 AM on February 28


Is there a principle in economics that accounts for a "shame/integrity factor"? Serious question. Modeling human behavior for pizza consumption - and lots of other things, really, but especially pizza - HAS to take into account "the point at which you lose respect for yourself."

Seems to me that if you can quantify it, however tenuous your basis for doing so, you can add it as a term in a utility function. IANAE
posted by invitapriore at 11:44 AM on February 28


Yeah, that's the basic model of variable-size pricing everywhere. You start your profit engineering at the highest size, and work out the smaller size prices backwards from that. Bonus: it makes people think they're getting more for less, when on a strict basis they're getting less for more.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:44 AM on February 28


You need enough pizza for everyone to have some in the morning, with a fried egg on.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:46 AM on February 28 [1 favorite]


The OMEGA pizza has infinite radius and finite price. The flavour scales accordingly.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:57 AM on February 28


Lyn, I have finally found something my boyfriend won't eat for breakfast.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:02 PM on February 28


Smaller pizzas always taste better!
posted by radioamy at 12:14 PM on February 28


Fucking NPR man, can't get anything right. negative marginal returns does not mean that more pizza is worse than less pizza, its just that the 11th slice is less satisfying than the 10th slice.

No, you are describing *diminishing* marginal returns. *Negative* marginal returns are just what the man said they are.
posted by leopard at 12:23 PM on February 28 [2 favorites]


The best pizza joint in Toronto does a gorgeous pizza with gorgonzola, pears, and duck confit.

Dear AskMetaFilter: Due to unforeseen circumstances, I must move to Toronto. Tomorrow. What do I need to do today to make that happen? Bonus points if you can help me move there tonight before dinnertime.
posted by solotoro at 12:26 PM on February 28 [4 favorites]


Or maybe you know you'll eat it at 2 a.m. and be very unhappy with yourself.

clearly the person who wrote this isn't a fan of alcohol.

I sent the first article to my boyfriend, which means I will probably be eating pizza or dinner tonight. and then for a snack later. I'm ok with this.

and ffs, fff, perhaps you could cough up the name of this wonderful place with the gorgonzola/pear pizza? Though, I have to admit I probably wouldn't be able to convince my boyfriend to switch from our usual order (gigi, sundried tomatoes, green olives, pepperoni, well done. it is glorious)
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:44 PM on February 28


In Coldstone Creamery, too, the manager once tried really hard to bully us into getting the next biggest size of ice cream because it was only one cent more, but we didn't want more ice cream.

Oh god the people in Coldstone are the WORST about this. I only want the tiny size! No one in their right mind should get any more ice cream than the tiny size! Who the hell can EAT more than the tiny size?!

But you'd think I was killing a kitten when I ask for the tiny size. It's baffling how personally they seem to take my reluctance to eat a vat of ice cream.
posted by winna at 12:55 PM on February 28 [1 favorite]


Who the hell can EAT more than the tiny size?!

I don't know the sizes of Coldstone ice cream, and I don't actually like their ice cream, but I am 100% sure that I can eat more than the tiny size of good ice cream. (Should? No.)
posted by jeather at 12:57 PM on February 28 [2 favorites]


The excellent Pete's Apizza in Washington, DC, has been helpfully providing this information on its site for years.
posted by oneironaut at 12:59 PM on February 28 [1 favorite]


Once you get past five dimensions or so, you're going to wish you'd gotten a pizza cube.

The blessing of dimensionality!
posted by scose at 1:14 PM on February 28


I don't know the sizes of Coldstone ice cream

As I recall, the sizes at Cold Stone are "Like It," "Love It," and "Gotta Have It." I haven't been in a Cold Stone for a decade for precisely this reason, and it still makes me disproportionately cranky. When I'm in a foul mood, I like to daydream that I'm yelling at the Cold Stone marketing department.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:14 PM on February 28 [1 favorite]


5_13_23_42_69_666, it's Pizzeria Libretto. Go to Ossington, not Danforth. Give 'em your cell # at the door, go next door to Salt for a couple glasses of wine and some charcuterie while you wait.

As for ice cream, I've never been to a Coldstone and maybe I'm getting old(er) and curmudgeonly(er) but I'd rather have one small scoop of a badass gelato (I recommend the place at Jarvis and Richmond which is dangerously close to my apartment) than a tub of ice cream. Well, unless it's, ahem, later at night. Pass that dutchie on the left hand side and give me a tub of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:16 PM on February 28 [2 favorites]


So, like, does anyone want to go halfsies on an extra large?

For some reason, I really want pizza now...
posted by madajb at 1:19 PM on February 28


ah yea, Libretto is amazing! if only pizza like that could be delivered.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:20 PM on February 28


I have a vague ephemeral idea for basically putting a real pizza oven in a food truck and only being 'open' from about 7pm until 2am. Delivery hell, the pizza gets cooked when we arrive at your front door.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:22 PM on February 28 [5 favorites]


you are a genius
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:23 PM on February 28 [1 favorite]


also, let me give you my address
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:23 PM on February 28


I think it could actually be a reasonable proposition. No real overhead--maybe timeshare a small commercial kitchen for prep. The most expensive thing would be refitting a truck with a 900F oven.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:30 PM on February 28


I have a vague ephemeral idea for basically putting a real pizza oven in a food truck and only being 'open' from about 7pm until 2am. Delivery hell, the pizza gets cooked when we arrive at your front door.

There are several food trucks around here with wood-fired ovens in them.
They are often located near breweries for maximum enjoyment.
posted by madajb at 1:35 PM on February 28


The best pizza sell.
posted by jacanj at 1:39 PM on February 28 [4 favorites]


I think most businesses have no idea just how much of a discount they're giving on their larger hyperpizzas.
Isn't a hyperpizza just a calzone?
posted by roystgnr at 1:54 PM on February 28


I dunno, yoink. The best pizza joint in Toronto does a gorgeous pizza with gorgonzola, pears, and duck confit.

That's not pizza. That's flatbread.
posted by gyc at 1:58 PM on February 28


Because I have nothing else to do, I looked up the Coldstone sizes. The size I always get is the kid's size, which is 3 ounces not including the brownie they mash into it. That is a cup of ice cream about the size of a smallish apple. The Like It size, the next size up, is 5 ounces, which is still a reasonable amount of ice cream but too much even so.

The price differential is not great enough to make me getting the kid's size any different than getting the Like It size, but the Coldstone people take it as a personal affront for a grown person to order either of the two smaller sizes.
posted by winna at 2:07 PM on February 28


I think most businesses have no idea just how much of a discount they're giving on their larger hyperpizzas.

Isn't a hyperpizza just a calzone?


A calzone is the shadow a hyperpizza casts in our dimension.
posted by Etrigan at 2:18 PM on February 28 [16 favorites]


I can now state with authority that I could eat more ice cream than a kid's size from Coldstone.

Also I order larger pizzas, but my least favourite part is a crust.
posted by jeather at 2:21 PM on February 28


but with the "broil" setting I can get my pizza stone up to 650.

Pfff. You ain't doin' it right 'less you set it to a healthy self-cleanin' 900.


warning: do not attempt w/o fire extinguisher & 911 on speed dial
posted by thisclickableme at 5:17 PM on February 28 [1 favorite]


Related: How much pizza costs, by neighborhood.

Comment from the article: Chicago has started serving pizza?

burn.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 12:16 AM on March 1 [1 favorite]


Today at my supermarket they had the exact same brand of the exact same type of potatoes for sale as a 2kg bag for $3.99 or a 4kg bag for $2.99. That's not even per kilo: it's total. So now I have to eat a lot of potatoes. But at least they last longer than pizza.

When it comes to fast food, I don't understand buying even the slightest bit more than I would want to eat. If it were actually cheaper, like the potatoes, I probably would. But then I'd throw half of it away and feel bad about the environment.
posted by lollusc at 1:05 AM on March 1


Take only what you need. Use what you take.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:28 AM on March 1 [1 favorite]


>Fucking NPR man, can't get anything right. negative marginal returns does not mean that more pizza is worse than less pizza, its just that the 11th slice is less satisfying than the 10th slice.

Actually NPR is using the term correctly. Negative margin return means that as you increase input, you are worse off than if you didn't.

>its just that the 11th slice is less satisfying than the 10th slice.

That is the definition of diminishing marginal return. The claim in the story is not that more pizza is less satisfying (diminishing marginal return), it is the claim that more pizza actually makes you feel worse (negative marginal return).
posted by JackFlash at 9:41 AM on March 1 [3 favorites]


I dunno, yoink. The best pizza joint in Toronto does a gorgeous pizza with gorgonzola, pears, and duck confit.

That's not pizza. That's flatbread.


I'm pretty sure the international association of pizzaiolos (or whatever it's called) based in Naples--where they invented pizza donchaknow--who certified the chef/owner and the restaurant as making genuine Napolitano pizza would disagree with you. It's not like they had to install special water conditioners to make the water the same as in Naples or undergo a whole lot of training or learn anything.

But, I mean, what would they know anyway.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:38 PM on March 1


"Genuine Napolitano pizza" is a warning, not a certification.
posted by Etrigan at 1:39 PM on March 1


pizzaiolos

That sounds like a really dirty insult, somehow. "What a bunch of pizzaiolos!"
posted by yoink at 2:12 PM on March 1 [2 favorites]


"Genuine Napolitano pizza" is a warning, not a certification.

In what universe? Napolitano pizza is the original, real deal. That's where the stuff was invented. You may like your Chicago deep dish or your New York floppy grease triangles or your Roman thin crust.

But a perfectly blistered, very slightly charred crust. Chewy. Made from the best flour and the right kind of water. Minimal toppings; ingredients at their best. Kissed by a volcano for 90 seconds in the oven.

It's sheer bliss, and if you're kvetching about it, you've probably never had it. Real Napolitano pizza is the ur-pizza.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:48 PM on March 1


Had it, multiple times in multiple places (including Naples), always assured that this was the real thing, and never been impressed.

Invention != perfection
posted by Etrigan at 3:55 PM on March 1


Yeah, just because it's the original doesn't mean it's the best. The original knife was a piece of flint broken so it has a sharp end but I'd still rather have something steel with a handle.
posted by NoraReed at 5:18 PM on March 1 [4 favorites]


In what universe? Napolitano pizza is the original, real deal.
There are three official variants: pizza marinara, which is made with tomato, garlic, oregano and extra virgin olive oil, pizza Margherita, made with tomato, sliced mozzarella, basil and extra-virgin olive oil, and pizza Margherita extra made with tomato, mozzarella from Campania in fillets, basil and extra virgin olive oil. The pizza napoletana is a Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (Specialità Tradizionale Garantita, STG) product in Europe. The Association reserves the right to accept variations of the product and recognize their authenticity if they are informed by the Neapolitan tradition of pizzas and are not in contrast with the rules of neapolitan gastronomy
No mention of gorgonzola, pears or duck confit.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:57 AM on March 2


Ahem, from your own quote:
The Association reserves the right to accept variations of the product and recognize their authenticity if they are informed by the Neapolitan tradition of pizzas and are not in contrast with the rules of neapolitan gastronomy
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:58 PM on March 2


And yet:
Out of 60 competitors from around the world, Rocco solidifies himself as 3rd Best in the World in the Non-Traditional FINALSl (emphasis added)
This fits well into one of my rules of thumb for restaurants: Every minute spent convincing you of their authenticity is a minute they didn't spend on the quality.
posted by Etrigan at 2:37 PM on March 2


Says someone who's never eaten at Libretto. I know the chef, I know many of their suppliers, and their quality is second to absolutely nobody.

They don't, actually, spend much time at all convincing anyone of their authenticity. They're certified by the association, meaning every pizza they serve is approved by the association, and at the end of the day? Their food is goddamn angels dancing on your tongue delicious.

If you don't like it, fine. But don't mistake snarky nonsense for any actual evaluation of something.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:48 PM on March 2


I hear the stuffed-crust barbecue chicken is transcendent.
posted by box at 6:06 PM on March 2


If you don't like it, fine. But don't mistake snarky nonsense for any actual evaluation of something.

If you like it, fine. But don't mistake smarmy nonsense for any actual evaluation of something.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:18 PM on March 2


Sys Rq what you want metafilter to cease to exist or something?
posted by Carillon at 10:49 PM on March 2


You should always get the largest pizza, because breakfast refrigerator pizza is fucking delicious.

Always reheat your pizza in a skillet. I think skillet-reheated pizza is actually better than the fresh pizza from the day before.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 11:50 PM on March 2 [2 favorites]


Unless you like it cold, which is fine too (though obviously inferior).
posted by lollymccatburglar at 11:51 PM on March 2


Metafilter, where all disagreements are settled once and for all, thanks to our rational discourse.
posted by Chrysostom at 5:56 AM on March 3 [4 favorites]


i ate a p'zone this weekend
posted by mullacc at 4:09 PM on March 3


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