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People suck at ordering pizza for groups

Vegetarians ruin everything, Sep 23, 2017

I honestly don't know if this problem is widespread or I've just noticed it more than other people, but it never fails that when I attend a function or am in a situation that calls for ordering, say, 5 pizzas or more, the ordering of pizzas is completely botched. There are multiple ways to botch it, but the primary way this is done is in the determination of how many of what type of pizzas to order. Generally, once you reach a certain number of people eating the pizza, you get to the point where you can't ask everyone what they want and try to satisfy that. It becomes too complicated. Instead, you just order of a variety of different types of pizza and hope that there is something for everyone.

The problem is that no one seems to apply any sort of logic or critical thinking to this process. I've witnessed countless times a pizza spread consisting of something like 4 pepperoni pizzas, 4 sausage pizzas, and 4 cheese pizzas. Common swaps are supreme pizzas for the sausage and veggie pizzas for the cheese. If you think this is a reasonable course of action then you are part of the problem. Have you ever gone to get some pizza from a spread like this after the initial rush of people died down? If so, you'll see that the pepperoni pizza is completely gone, three sausage/supreme pizzas will be left, and 2 to 4 slices of cheese pizza will be gone.

Despite this happening every single time, it seems either people don't learn, don't pay attention, or never order pizza more than once. Also, apparently people think there are tons of vegetarians running around that need cheese/veggie pizzas. Those people must never realize/notice that cheese pizzas are always the last pizza eaten save for a random slice here and there. I'm not sure, but as a pepperoni pizza lover, it is incredibly frustrating. The solution here is obvious - simply significantly increase the pepperoni pizzas being ordered, and reduce everything else. I have a general formula that works for most random groups of people quite well. Based on my analysis over the years, going 60% pepperoni, 30% sausage/supreme/misc, 10% cheese usually get the best results. One reason why it works well is that it is rare that someone is not going to like pepperoni pizza, so by defaulting the majority of your pizza in that direction, you reduce the likelihood that people are going to disappointed. It is not like this is some cosmic revelation either. It is painfully obvious if you ever pay attention to pizza consumption patterns.

Another way people often botch ordering for groups is not getting good value for your money. Especially if you are ordering in a situation where you are spending someone else's money, either because they are funding the whole order, or a bunch of people pooled their money and you are the ordering party, you need to ensure you get the best value possible. This is usually as simple as asking about specials on the phone, or looking for them online. But again, some analysis is needed here as well. The place might have a "deal" that isn't so much of a deal if you break it down. My local Papa John's wants $14.50 for a single large pepperoni pizza. That will feed an average of 2.7 adults. For $11.98, I can get 2 medium pepperoni pizzas from Domino's that will feed 2 adults each, on average. So for $2.50 less, I can feed 1.3 more people. Sure, maybe you like Papa John's more than Domino's (I don't, but I know that view is relatively common), but when you are talking about stewardship of money and feeding everyone, value is an important consideration. Which is a better outcome, ordering pizza that most people like better but running out before everyone gets their fill, or ordering pizza not quite as good and having plenty? The second one 10 out of 10 times.

The final way I've noticed people frequently botch ordering pizza for a group is by underestimating how much people can eat and thus not getting enough pizza when money is not the issue. This happens most often when someone with a modest appetite does the ordering. If you calculate two slices per person and base your order on that, people like me are going to blow that up with my 5-6 slice appetite. If your group is made up of a mix of adult men and women, 2.67 to 3 slices of a large per person is a good baseline, based on an 8 slice large, and you always round up. So, a group of 10 people needs at least 4 large pizzas.

What do you think? Have you noticed these same problems? Maybe other problems? Are you part of the problem?

Tags: formula groups ordering

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