A Little Pizza Advice

“When it comes to cost-effectiveness, large pizzas trump small ones. ‘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,’ [wrote an economist].” – Business Insider

The revelation-of-sorts that a large pizza will always be a better deal than a medium-sized pie garnered some deserved attention. The economist who made the declaration did his homework, too: He analyzed data from more than 7,000 pizza chains. “One 16-inch pizza has roughly the same area as 1.3 14-inch pizzas or four 8-inch pizzas,” he wrote. “To get the same amount of pizza you get in a 16-inch pizza, you'd have to spend an extra $2.35 on 14-inch pizzas, or an extra $16.41 on 8-inch pizzas.” Indeed! But why stop the analysis there? Here are more ways to get the most bang for your buck at your local pizza place:

Always pay for the smallest soda cup. The pie-size math isn’t exactly obvious, but the drink calculus certainly is. Almost every pizza parlor offers unlimited refills on fountain drinks. That makes buying any size but the smallest one offered foolhardy and wasteful. We looked at the menu of one local pizzeria and found that a large soft drink costs $2.75, while the medium costs $2.25, and the small just $1.75. You don’t even need to know the volume of each cup to see that you can save a dollar and still get all the cold, delicious artificially-flavored carbonated sugar water you can consume! You should also put as much ice as possible into your cup before taking any soda, to maximize the water content of your soft drink.

Next: A national upscale spice retailer in the United States headquartered in Wisconsin sells a .5 oz jar of crushed Californian red peppers—the very seasoning “found on the tables of Italian restaurants and pizzerias” for $3.09 and a one-pound bag of it for $18.90. But pizzerias—and Italian restaurants, for that matter—give the stuff away for free! Most of us sprinkle on each slice of pizza as much crushed red pepper as we want—but only for that slice. If we take our pizza to go, we might shake some pepper into a napkin to apply later. This makes zero economic sense, though. If you take the entire available container of the crushed red pepper flakes—and it behooves you to take the fullest one you can find—then you save anywhere from $3.09 to $18.90! Plus the cost of the jar, which is always nicer than the one you’d get from even an upscale spice retailer!

More or less the same logic applies to the free napkins. Always take napkins. Lots and lots of napkins. As many as you can carry out in your pockets, and then more.

Now, to this point we’ve considered only how availing yourself of the right products in the right sizes or quantities will save you the most money, but there is also an opportunity at every pizzeria for actually making money. For the right kind of patron, there is cash as cold as the soda and as hard as the baking stone to be had, if you know where to look. And where to look, of course, is the cash register, where the negotiable currency accepted by the establishment in return for food items is typically kept. If you can get into the cash register, then you can help yourself to the money there... and the economic benefit of getting your hands on money should be as plain as a pizza with no toppings!

The owners and staff of a pizzeria won’t be happy if you take the money from the cash register, however, and they might even try to stop you, physically, from leaving the establishment with your arguably ill-gotten gains. This scenario presents an opportunity for you to take a hostage, something you should do if you can—again, economically speaking. One recent estimate puts the total amount of ransom payments made each year to kidnappers at $1.5 billion. That’s billion. With a B! Granted, that’s a worldwide figure... and anyway, the suggestion here is not to hold your hostage at length for ransom, but rather to immediately offer the release of him or her in return for your free passage from the pizzeria—with the money you took. Nine times out of every ten, this gambit works.

When it doesn’t work, though, and you’re detained at the pizzeria until the authorities arrive to take you into custody—or if you are positively identified and the authorities arrest you later, possibly at your home while you are eating your pizza, putting away your crushed red pepper and napkins, and/or counting your paper money and coins—do not answer any questions posed to you by the police without having a lawyer present. 100% of economists and lawyers agree: Always demand to speak to a lawyer. Criminal suspects who talk to the cops without the benefit of legal counsel are 75,000 times more likely to be coerced into swearing out a confession than those who exercise their Miranda rights.

Finally, if you are looking at a trial for the crime of robbery, you might not want to accept a plea bargain, notwithstanding the specter of a trial that could end in a prison sentence. The common argument goes like this: If an accused faces ten years in jail and has a 50% chance of being convicted, then an agreement resulting in a five-year sentence, shortened by some further amount in return for saving the government the cost of trial, makes sense. But this is only in theory. In reality, criminal defendants are rarely convicted after trial, owing often to the temporary unavailability of key witnesses to testify, a circumstance that is always worth arranging whatever the cost, at least according to one celebrated economist who wishes to remain anonymous.

Buon appetito!

Matthew David Brozik wrote this and many other short humor pieces, which have been published in print and online by The New Yorker, Adult Swim, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Grin & Tonic, The Big Jewel, and no one.

Read more humor here. Or read some fiction here.