In general, the more pizza we have the better. This is especially true for a Super Bowl Party, so get ready for some good news regarding your forthcoming (safe and socially distanced) celebrations for the big game between the Chiefs and Buccaneers.
If anyone tries discourage you from buying multiple large pies, don’t let them: It is almost always better value to order larger-sized pizzas, according to math (well, an engineer). Here’s why.
It’s all about math
In 2014, Quoctrung Bui explained for NPR’s Planet Money blog:
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.
…The math of why bigger pizzas are such a good deal is simple: A pizza is a circle, and the area of a circle increases with the square of the radius.
So, for example, a 16-inch pizza is actually four times as big as an 8-inch pizza.
And when you look at thousands of pizza prices from around the U.S., you see that you almost always get a much, much better deal when you buy a bigger pizza.
The post also includes an interactive graph that compares average pizza prices from pizzerias and chains across the country. You can drag the slider at the bottom of their graph to see exactly how much larger that bigger pizza is compared to the smaller ones, and at the average prices for each, how much you actually come out ahead.
The pizza diameter tool is obviously based on pretty old data, but the general rule remains for Super Bowl 2021 and beyond: Bigger pizzas mean more value for your buck. For example, one 18-inch pizza has roughly the same area as 1.7 14-inch pizzas or 5.1 8-inch pizzas. To get the same amount of pizza you get in an $18.68 18-inch pizza, you’d have to spend an extra $5.29 on 14-inch pizzas, or an extra $23.09 on 8-inch pizzas. See how the numbers add up?
It’s almost universally a better deal—mathematically, mind you—to just get the bigger pizza. This hypothetical example will obviously be a little bit more expensive in today’s dollars, but the principle is unchanged.
Of course, this is a mathematical exercise—a rational, logical method of determining how to get the most return on your pizza investment. Obviously it doesn’t make sense to buy a massive pizza if you can’t eat it all, don’t want to overeat, don’t have the funds to purchase the larger size, or have no way to store the leftovers. But for all other occasions—especially the Super Bowl, which just might be the most universally recognized national day of pizza consumption—get the bigger pizza.
This story was originally published on 10/23/16 and was updated on 2/3/21 to provide more thorough and current information.