## Pizza algorithm

A big question for any children’s party in which you are providing lunch is how many and what kind of pizzas to provide.

The internet has a few algorithms that address this subject, but I can’t find the super-useful one we used last year (that I probably got off a mommy forum). Instead there’s people’s own personal algorithms, which seem to be a bit, I dunno, personal-preference heavy (#2, for example, feels about mushrooms how #1 feels about eggnog, and #1 has a green pepper intolerance).

Do these algorithms really work?

In my years as a parent to a small child and chauffeur to and chaperone at children’s parties, I have made the following Scientific Observation: Kids seem to like Cheese or Pepperoni (originally had “and Pepperoni” but in reality, the cheese eaters eschew pepperoni entirely, and some pepperoni eaters will not eat plain cheese, “no! want pepROni pizza!”).

I have also noted: Adults seem to like more variety (and pepperoni, unless they’re vegetarian).

Last year we had 15 kids and at least 15 parents and didn’t get it quite right– there wasn’t quite enough veggie and one vegetarian kid was sad to have cheese as hir third piece…

Here’s what we’re trying this year for 4-7 year olds and their parents (or n people total):

(n+1)/4 for large pizzas (because we’re from the midwest and would rather have leftovers than run out of anything)
Order of pizza ordering based on number of people:
1.  Cheese
2.  Pepperoni
3.  Cheese
4.  Pepperoni
5.  Something with veggies (ex. vegetarian lover)
6.  Something with meats (ex. meat lover)
Then cheese, pepperoni, individual veggies (mushroom or onion), individual non-pepperoni meat (sausage or hamburger), cheese, pepperoni etc. Normally I would prefer onion to mushroom in terms of individual veggie, but this part of the country seems to be anti-onion, which I don’t understand.

If there were more adults, I would make pepperoni the first ordered pizza, and replace every other cheese pizza with a single-topping vegetarian pizza.

Hopefully this modified algorithm will work!

### 20 Responses to “Pizza algorithm”

1. First Gen American Says:

Hmmm…Although my kids like pepperoni, they’ll never turn their noses up at cheese and I know a lot of kids that just eat cheese. If it were me, it would be all cheese pizzas, unless i knew the adults and knew they weren’t picky, then I’d throw in some veggie ones and ronis too.

2. julier Says:

My 6 year old loves veggie pizza with banana peppers, which doesn’t quite jive with the normal algorithms for ordering pizza for a kids party. I usually order one veggie, a cheese, and a pepperoni. If I need a fourth, I order sausage because that is my favorite.

3. bogart Says:

My own kid is a pepperoni kid but also knows that sometimes he gets pizza without pepperonis on it and this is not the end of the world. For example we sometimes join his dad’s friends after they play sports and then adjourn to pizza (in a park, pizza delivered), and we just take what is there. It’s not always optimal (from a pizza perspective) but useful in pointing out that the point is the people/get-together, not the pizza.

As for me, I’m an anchovy person, so I have to deal with that (the point is the people, not the pizza) a lot. Or treat myself to a personal pizza.

We haven’t had to implement pizza algorithms yet and don’t have (organize, we have attended) kid parties involving that many people. However, I’m notorious about serving too much of whatever it is, so that I’d probably do a 1:3 pizza/person ratio (large pizzas) and have tons left over — though with kids I’d increase the denominator (but probably not enough. I always end up thinking, “But what if Every Single Person Present wants Pepperoni!?” and thus ordering way too much of that (and everything else, for the same reason).

• nicoleandmaggie Says:

haha. Yes, anchovies are one of the foods I cannot stand (even in Cesar salad!). But when DH goes out of town I will order myself a Hawaiian pizza as a treat. Something about fruit and meat not belonging together.

My DS will eat any kind of pizza… but other people’s kids are often pickier.

• anandi Says:

I’m with your DH – no fruit and meat. I also don’t like the pineapple-tomato combo.

Your pizza algorithm is very complex, and making me rethink my own :) Basically, I’d get one cheese, one pepperoni, and one mixed veggie and repeat from there. If I had a LOT of people (who are not known vegetarians), maybe also a mixed meaty one.

4. becca Says:

I like cheese pizza best. It is not “plain” cheese. It is “perfect” cheese, replete in its cheesiness, and absolutely satisfactory. Also, if you listen to people tell you what they want, they will tend to say they want some topping or another, and eat one slice of that. And then attack my cheese. So you need to add on two slices of cheese for every slice of something else people claim to want, unless they are rabid meat eaters and even then probably one slice of cheese for every two meaty slices.

5. Linda Says:

What about people who are dairy intolerant? ;-)

Almost everyone (with the excpetion of those of us with dairy tolerance issues) will eat cheese pizza. (And most of those with dairy intolerance will still eat cheese pizza and just deal with the consequences.) I don’t think I’ve ever run into anyone who *insisted* they had to have pepperoni pizza. I haven’t been around a lot of little kids, though. Even if I did meet a kid like that I’d think it was being a brat. (That sounds so mean of me, but it is honest.)

Personally, when I eat pizza I stay away from pepperoni. I will take pepperoni only as a last resort (as in, there is nothing else to eat) and I will usually peel the pepperoni off. I just don’t like most pepperoni.

• nicoleandmaggie Says:

Don’t forget celiac!

Yes, other people’s kids sometimes behave like brats… I don’t get it. (Not to say mine is always an angel, but when ze is not, ze is removed from polite company, so people think ze is.)

• anandi Says:

My take, as the mama of a kid with a dairy allergy, is that I’m not counting on others to provide food for my kid (because she pretty much can’t eat *anything* that’s “normal” party food). So we bring our own snacks, I feed her beforehand, etc. She’s a little sad about not getting cake but I try to bring along a vegan cookie or cupcake or something if I’ve planned ahead.

I kind of lump the celiac people in the same bucket. Yes, if you know people have issues, have a veggie tray, fresh fruit, etc. but I don’t think you need to plan for every eventuality.

I also like Linda’s suggestion of just getting cheese for everyone :)

6. Liz Says:

Oh I love that we are having a discussion about pizza algorithms! This has provided another example of the complexity that kids add to seemingly simple tasks. I do a lot of pizza ordering for grad student events and, unless I’m feeling particularly inspired one day, I normally just go with half pepperoni and half peppers & mushrooms. The great thing about adults is they will either just suck it up or take off the toppings that they don’t like and don’t openly complain. Numbers can be tricky because grad students will typically eat as much as is available so I rarely end up with too much but generally feel 3 slices per person is a safe bet.

• becca Says:

Grad student pizza consumption, under conditions of plentiful pizza, is hilarious. They are all pretty good at estimating, and usually not as terribly socialized as you might think, so they all start with 1-2 slices while eying the door, planning when to ramp up. Then they gradually increase, sometimes sneaking up during the speaking part of a seminar to get an extra slice. Then at the end, somebody will always take it home or back to lab rather than leave anything to be cleaned up. I have seen events where an unusually low number of grad students showed up, only to have 7/8 people take home at least half a pizza (and the last person taking an extra slice). It will all get consumed, no matter what.
That said, your grad students are probably too grateful to have pizza to tell you this (and 3 slices/person is a good starting point- I commend your numerical analysis), but you should get them more cheese and less peppers.
:-P

7. femmefrugality Says:

Whoa, it’s been too long since I’ve taken math. I’d just order way too much pepperoni and cheese. But I wouldn’t be as good of a hostess either, I suppose. :)

My favorite is clam pizza. Second favorite is prosciutto and egg.

9. squirrelers Says:

Equations for pizza. Not sure what it says about me, but I smiled approvingly when I saw that since I get this line of thinking.

My preference: veggie combo pizza. Oh, and fresh garlic on pizza is my quirk. As for kids, I think it’s safe to balance between cheese and pepperoni. More and more kids these days are being raised to eat less meat it seems, at least based what I’ve seen/heard.

10. Debbie M Says:

In the last pizza group I was in (co-workers), one of them actually went around asking everyone their favorites and their dislikes. I was the only one who disliked jalapenos. There ended up being four veggie pizzas of various kinds, all with jalapenos, and one pepperoni. This worked out fine. Half pepperoni and half cheese would not have worked well–the cheese would have gone first, and the pepperoni sat around.

I agree with becca that cheese pizza is different from pizza diluted with other toppings, and the other flavors come out better. Sometimes I also agree that it’s the best, but most pizzas aren’t that good and need to be gussied up a bit.

I like fruit and meat fine: I pick off the pineapple and eat it first (dessert first?) and then eat the rest of the pizza as intended.

I am just like the grad students, first taking not quite my fair share (just to make sure), then a little more, then a little more…

As to your actual question, usually my favorite is pepperoni (or one other meat), but I feel I should eat vegetables, so I normally go with pepperoni (or sausage or hamburger) and mushroom. At my parents’, we get hamburger with extra cheese, and if Mom’s cooking, she uses turkey sausage.

I’d say for a group of adults, you need more veggie pizzas (maybe 1/3, but this might vary based on what part of the country you’re in), but for a mostly kid mix, I like your algorithm.

11. MutantSupermodel Says:

No way would I even come close to thinking about it that much. All cheese. You don’t like it? Too bad too sad. I’m cranky that way.