Pizza Math

This is a dorky but interesting pointer: You should always order the bigger pizza, a writer from NPR explains

“One day last year, an engineer and I went to a pizza place for lunch. The engineer told me he wasn’t very hungry, but he said he was going to get the 12-inch medium instead of the 8-inch small—because the medium was more than twice as big as the small, and it cost only a little bit more. This sort of blew my mind.”

Although the prices are quite similar…
A 12-inch pizza is more than twice as big as an 8-inch pizza.
A 16-inch pizza is four times as big as an 8-inch pizza.

So, always order the bigger pizza! Math!

P.S. Did you hear that the Oscars pizza-delivery guy got a $1000 tip?

(Photo by Todd Coleman. Via Kottke)

  1. What about the money you have to spend for loosing weight?


  2. Yes! I am always sad when I get a smaller pizza… Leftover pizza is the only kind of leftovers I like to eat. ;)

  3. Interesting!! That makes sense. I also find that bigger pizza is ooey-gooier, guess that’s because there’s more surface area for toppings to make it that way. And sometimes if you get just cheese it gets burned where if you get some other topping it doesn’t. I think I have had way too much pizza in my lifetime.

  4. Yes, the big pizza is always the better value but what we need to be mindful of his how much food is necessary for a meal. If you lack self-control like I do, have the server pack up half the pizza for you to bring home for another time. Out of site, out of mind!

  5. What I wouldn’t give for a New York pie!

    Love to you and the family, Jo!

    Shivering in the tundra

  6. Economies of scale! I always look at this with everything (sometimes the bigger pack of toilet paper isn’t the best deal, but sometimes it is. I’m that person with the calc app out).

    I do agree if you won’t use the rest it’s a waste to buy more, but….that rarely happens to me. I <3 gluttony. Oh, and happy lent, yada yada. ;)

  7. I just know that I don’t have the self control to avoid eating the (over twice as large!) pizza even if I don’t need it haha

  8. I told my boyfriend about this last night and he gave me a look and said, “We should order a medium and a large pizza to be sure.” I laughed it off and went to bed, but when I woke up, I found the medium in our fridge.

  9. I was told to always get the largest pizza because they often use the same amount of dough no matter what hte size, and thus it is a nice thin crust if you get the larger pizza. This is, of course, a tip for people who like thin crust pizza :)

  10. The math is good, but this can also make people eat more than what they need or want, just to avoid waste or because temptation is there.

  11. This photo reminds me thoese pie charts, looks similar to that. Those pie-charts looks tasty.


  12. Here’s my pizza math: Large pizzas have larger pieces and I end up eating the same number of pieces even though it’s a larger amount. 3 medium or small size pieces are better than (and satisfy me as much as) 3 large pieces.
    Basically I order smalls and mediums because I have no self control!!

  13. Good to know! We’re all about saving money and getting the bang for our buck. And, I thought that pizza guy was totally an actor! Wow…must have been his lucky day

  14. Believe it or not, this has encouraged me to review basic formulas. I was alright at high school math but haven’t been able to retain the formulas. I’m looking then up and hopefully they’ll stick for a while. I’m not proud of that particular weakness.

  15. I had to read and reread that quite a few times until I got it. Ha! (Math has never been my strength. It was a bigger deal when I completed my last ever math class in college than when I actually graduated. My roommate threw a huge party to celebrate “No more math” … BUT- we usually order the bigger pizza anyway… leftovers are perfect for breakfast ;)

  16. Also, I have to agree with the poster Rosie Scott. It’s as if people are proud of not understanding math, or think it’s cute to be ignorant in that area. Not cool.

  17. pi*r^2, yes. For some reason that equation has ALWAYS stuck with me since 9th grade geometry.

    However, if all you’re going to do is end up tossing the rest of the pizza, then it makes no sense. And there isn’t always a good reason to pay more for anything if you don’t even really want it, just to get a deal. (That’s why, for instance, I never pay to get some sort of giganto soda even though it’s only slightly more expensive than the small.) Paying more than planned because something is a good deal gets a lot of people in trouble but makes stores happy. Now, if you’re really going to eat that pizza – if you really want all those calories for multiple meals (or have someone close to you who wants the rest of it) then go for it!

  18. My wife (fan of the site) sent me a link to this post. This has been my strategy for years! Pizza is priced by diameter, but you get pizza by the square of the radius. Always order the biggest one!

    – A Chemist

  19. Hi Everyone,

    I’m not trying to be mean! I’m trying to express my concern that so many Americans have such a hard time with basic algebra. Cup of Jo does an amazing job gently encouraging people to read more (thank you very much)! I need those nudges.

    But the US is flunking math (even more so than verbal tests). This is not acceptable, people! Crack open those math textbooks and at least maintain a 10th grade understanding of it!

  20. This is the kind of math I like . . . food math.
    I love everything about this logic!


  21. Pizza + Math reminds me this would be the best meal for Pi Day this March 14th!

  22. Where is the like button the commments! lol I agree with Ashely Schneider “I don’t need math to tell me to always order the bigger pizza :)” Damn it now I want pizza!!


  23. jm says...

    That picture of pizza is making me hungry! I will always order large now – plus I love leftovers for breakfast!

  24. Area of a circle = pi*radius^2 (or 3.14*radius*radius). For 8 inch pizza the radius is 4 (half the diameter), for 12 inch pizza, radius is 6. Therefore, 8 in. pizza has area of 3.14*16 = 50.24 square inches. The 12 in. pizza has area of 3.14*36 = 113.04 square inches.

  25. Engineer and Pizza Lover here!

    The area of a circle (or pizza) is

    (pi) x (radius of circle)^2.

    With an 8″ (radius= 4″) pizza, you are getting approximately 50 square inches of pizza.

    A 12″ (radius= 6″) pizza gives you 113 square inches of pizza, hence more than double the pizza!!

    -Stephanie of Stylesmiths

  26. How on earth does that math work out?

    Signed, someone who is bad at math.

  27. I think it depends on if you want quality or quantity- unless I’m getting a deep dish pizza (yay Chicago!), I want my crust to be crispy, and the middle of a huge pizza is never crispy. So I’ll stick with the smaller ones! :)

  28. It makes sense if you take home the leftovers but I can’t even look at cold pizza.

  29. Wow, that sounds just like my husband. He’s an engineer :-)

  30. I don’t need math to tell me to always order the bigger pizza :)

  31. what a cool brother

    and yes, always order the bigger pizza cuz pizza is good later too :) math and common sense!

  32. I don’t even get it – flashbacks to being bad at math. Ha!