Here’s a great question from a Texas reader: “Why is the pizza round, the box square, and the slices cut into triangles?”
This is a complicated question for me. In school, I had so much trouble with geometry they put me in a simpler class called “Meet Mr. Number Guy.”
So, I asked several people about this, and here’s what they told me. (What they didn’t tell me, I made up.)
First is the square box. These are easier and less expensive because they can be made from one sheet of flat cardboard. That means they can be stored easier, too.
This is just basic logic. It’s like asking “Why are wheels round?” Wheels are round because square wheels don’t get good mileage.
So – regarding roundness – why are they that way? I’m told that chefs stretch it by taking a lump of dough and spinning it in the air.
Centrifugal force rounds the dough out. I tried to spin pizza dough, but I dropped it on the floor, which sadly just flattened it.
Finally, why is round pizza cut into triangles? Slicing triangles is the easiest way to divide a circle. This way, the pizza can be divided evenly, and each person gets some crust.
But, did you know that in ancient times, pizza resembled a flatbread cooked in an oven? Flat, rectangular pizza has some advantages, too. For instance, if you don’t like crust, you can eat a juicy middle piece filled with toppings.
Writing about pizza made me so hungry that I bought myself a big round one. I’ll enjoy it for dinner tonight…and maybe tomorrow morning with coffee, too.
Got a story idea for Rix? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Just don’t bombard him with more pizza questions. You’ll likely just make him hungry for it again. Understand?
Rix Quinn is a former magazine publisher who works as an independent biographer and broadcaster.