Mar 02, 2023

Interactive: Should you buy the bigger pizza?

You have the choice between the 8 inch pizza, the 14-inch and the 18-inch. Which is the best buy? Oh, and find out below how your class might win a pizza party...

A little bit of math might help you make better decisions when it comes to buying pizza.


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.

Why? Remember how to find the area of a circle? I dusted the cobwebs off of my geometry book and found Area = Pi*(radius)^2

Click to go directly to the simulation which shows the how the price per square inch varies based on the pizza size. The researcher collected 74,476 prices from 3,678 pizza places around the country (that's a lot of data) to create this chart. 


  1. What happens to the price per square inch of pizza as you increase the diameter of the pizza?  
  2. Based on this chart, should you ever buy the 8-inch pizza? Why or why not? 
  3. If given a choice between a 16 inch pizza and a 24 inch pizza, which would you choose? Explain using the data from the simulation. 

Good reminder from an educator who wrote in after this post first appeared. Karin Kiewra: "Buy the larger pizza, but only if you'll take home leftovers...."


We have lots more of these interactive resources in our Interactive Library. Each come with a worksheet too! 


 Wondering about the pizza party, participate in the FinCap Friday Frenzy for a chance to not only get a pizza party but also a virtual visit from Yanely and class set of her new book. Round 2 of the contest Details. 

About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.

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