Pizza Math

Ever been faced with the quandry of determining how much pizza to order? I do all the time. When you ask the pizza place, "how much pizza should I order for 12 people?" they invariably respond with, "how hungry are you guys?"

That is not helpful response as it does not take into consideration other important variables: namely the fact that most people given the same amount of hunger will eat different amounts of food.

Another approach that I see people use is asking each person "how many slices will you eat?" This never felt like a reliable method to me, because slices of a medium pizza always seemed bigger to me than a slice of an extra large (keeping in mind that the larger the pizza gets, the more slices it typically contains).

But let's do the math, because the world should know the best and simplest formula for figuring out how much pizza to order.

Pizza SizeDiameter# SlicesSurface Area Per Slice
Medium12"814 sq. in.
Large14"1015 sq. in.
Extra Large16"1216 sq. in.

I think the most important thing to take away from this is that slices do not vary wildly in size - maybe by a bite or two, but that a slice of a medium pie will probably be equally filling to a slice of an extra large. Therefore, the simplest and easiest way to order pizza is simply to ask each person how many slices they will eat and then ordering the requisite number/sizes of pizza optimizing for variety of choice and economy of scale.

9 Comments

So, your math seems a little off . . .

The 16" diameter extra large slices come out to be closer to 17 square inches rather than 16.

More informatively, they're almost 20% larger than the small slices!

Of course, this back of the envelope calculation ignores things such as crust thickness, depth of toppings, stuffed crusts, non-circular pizzas, etc.

Sort of ruins the old joke:

A VB programmer walks into a Pizza shop and orders a pizza.

Pizza maker asks "do you want it cut into 4 slices or 6?"

VB programmer replies, "Better make it 4, I don't think I could eat 6".

I work with some autistic kids. I'll ask them how to figure it out.

The math also does not take into consideration the non-standardization of number of slices per pizza and shape of such slices. Square slices with 9 or 16 slices or the more traditional pie style with 4, 6, 8, or more?

Ah, a quandery... What're you going to do?

:)

I like the approach, and I had never thought about the sizes being about the same. However, your math doesn't take into account the fact that most pizzas (round ones, anyway) are cut all the way across. So you can get 2-4-8-16 or 2-6-12, but it's really tough to get 10 slices from a pizza parlor. And that would affect your slice size a bit.

hello hi what does this thing have to do with math?????

The problem with your approach is that, the person in charge of ordering for groups often has to place the order in advance. For large groups of people, doing a person-by-person Q&A of how many slices they want is simply not viable.

The formula to use is take the number of people, divide by 8, multiply by 3, and add 1.

Yea, we usually do "How many slices do you want?" but in response to Not Satisfied if you have a large group you just assume 2 slices per person and add a few extra for waste. If majority of group is guys, probably go at 3 or 3.5 per, just to be safe.

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  • Yea, we usually do "How many slices do you want?" but in response to Not Satisfied if you have a large group you just assume 2 slices per person and add a few extra for waste. If majority of group is guys, probably go at...

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  • The formula to use is take the number of people, divide by 8, multiply by 3, and add 1. ...

  • The problem with your approach is that, the person in charge of ordering for groups often has to place the order in advance. For large groups of people, doing a person-by-person Q&A of how many slices they want is si...

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  • hello hi what does this thing have to do with math????? ...

  • I like the approach, and I had never thought about the sizes being about the same. However, your math doesn't take into account the fact that most pizzas (round ones, anyway) are cut all the way across. So you can get 2-...

    John-boy
    Pizza Math
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