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Pizza Slices or Squares: A Debate for the Ages

BY: Shannon Grilli | Apr 20, 2016

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Despite its Italian origins, pizza is the most American of foods. It’s cheap, its ingredients are readily available, and its subject alone inspires countless arguments. What are the best toppings? What is the best pizza style—New York, Chicago, New Haven? What explains its appeal to mutant ninja turtle teens?

Here, we invited two of our food editors to debate one of the most important decisions in pizza. What is the best way to cut up and divide it: into slices (the pie cut) or into squares (the party cut)?

ROUND 1: Opening arguments

Party cut: The right cut

SHANNON GRILLI: Growing up in the Midwest, I was blissfully unaware that party-cut pizza wasn’t the norm everywhere. So unaware, in fact, that I wasn’t even familiar with the term “party cut” until a few years ago. Square-cut pizza was simply “regular” pizza.

Fast-forward to college, when my circle of friends began to include East and West Coast natives, and I was finally faced with the ugly truth: not only were these people unfamiliar with party-cut pizza, they actually disliked it.

Seeing as the vast majority of these folks are smart, educated individuals, I must conclude that this attitude is simply the result of habit, rather than poor taste. Most pie-cut fans would probably sing the praises of a pizza carefully sawed into a grid-like formation, if they could only step out of their comfort zone. Below, I make my case in order to help them see the light.

Pie cut: The actual right cut

CHARLES AUSTIN: My colleague appears to be in the pocket of big-money party-cut pizza purveyors. I question her integrity, but above all, I question her taste. I also grew up in the Midwest, but I had no problem finding a number of pizza restaurants dedicated to the pie-crust style, all of which provide a superior pizza-eating experience for the reasons I will outline below.

WINNER: Pie cut. The Midwest has more than just party-cut pies. And the pockets of big-money party-cut pizza purveyors are notoriously deep.

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ROUND 2: Popular appeals

Party cut brings crust lovers and crust haters together

SG: If you’re a pizza-crust lover (like me), nothing is more infuriating than watching a friend devour slice after slice of pie-cut pizza, leaving a gigantic pile of delicious crusts behind. You know what would solve that kind of horror-show situation? A pizza that was cut in a formation that allowed for both crusted and crust-free slices.

Boom! With a party-cut pie, everybody gets exactly the type of pizza slice they want, and no crust gets left behind.

Party cut is not egalitarian

CA: First of all, let’s be clear: crust is disgusting. It is the bones of the pizza, and the fact that anybody could find pleasure in eating a dry, bloated dough stub is one of the things that’s wrong with America today.

Here is really where your argument is problematic, though. Not only is party cut not egalitarian—the corner slices are puny compared to the delicious inner slices—but people are punished for diligently grabbing the first slices. The hard-working, motivated person who reaches the pizza first inevitably gets stuck with those disgusting corner slices, if you can truly call those lilliputian triangles “slices.” Pie-cut pizza provides ample, fair sustenance for all—even the losers who reach the table last.

WINNER: Party cut. Crust is delicious, and not eating it is just plain wasteful.

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ROUND 3: Health considerations

The party cut is diet-friendly … sort of

SG: Let’s face it: most of the time, if you start eating a big, triangle-shaped slice of pizza, you’re going to finish a big, triangle-shaped slice of pizza. That’s where the genius of the party-cut pie really shines: it makes portion control a breeze, since you can simply select the number of squares that corresponds to your hunger level. Still hungry? Take a few more squares! Full, but still feel like nibbling? Those tiny corner pieces were made for you!

Because you keep having to make return trips to the pizza box, you’re also going to be more mindful about how much pizza you’re consuming. It’s easy to say, “Oh, I’ve only had two slices,” in order to justify shoving more cheesy deliciousness into your mouth, but much harder to justify that decision if you’re saying, “Oh, I’ve only had nine squares.”

Best of all, you’ll never be that person at the party who leaves half a slice uneaten. Or, worse, the person who saws a pizza slice in half or thirds. You know that person. Don’t be that person.

Real pizza eaters do not diet

CA: In Chicago, Bacci Pizzeria only serves slices that are bigger than a human head and weigh at least as much. It does this because it is a real pizza establishment aimed at real pizza eaters. Also, it serves the pie-cut style. I wonder why.

WINNER: Pie cut. “Pizza” and “diet” don’t even belong in the same sentence.

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ROUND 4: Social relevance

It’s great for a crowd

SG: It has “party” in the name, making it great for—duh—parties. Party-cut pies are perfect for feeding groups, especially if you’re on a budget. A pie-cut pizza with eight slices might feed twice as many people if it’s cut into squares, since people will likely serve themselves less. You might even say a party-cut pie makes us kinder, gentler, a little more conscious of the needs of others—or at least their pizza-consuming needs.

This isn’t just about saving the host cash or being a polite party guest, though. If you’re at a party and you chow down on a monster jumbo slice, you’re going to have much less room for beer and snacks and cake. And nothing is sadder that being too full for cake.

Those little squares of pizza make it way easier to pace yourself and enjoy a little bit of everything. Everybody wins.

Ironically, pie cut is more suitable for parties

CA: There are lots of wonderful, spontaneous things that happen at a party with pie-cut pizza. Remember that scene in Lady and the Tramp where the two dogs kiss while eating spaghetti? You could definitely split a big slice of pie-cut pizza from both ends and then kiss somebody. Imagine trying to do that with a tiny party-cut slice. There would be no time for your eyes to lock and for the romance to develop.

WINNER: Party cut is great for parties. It’s right there in the name.

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Overall debate winner: Tie. Besides, everyone’s a winner when they’re eating pizza.

It was a fine debate, and we congratulate both of our editors on four spirited rounds of rhetorical deliberation.

The Pro Party-Cut Editor The Pro Pie-Cut Editor
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Shannon Grilli is the Guide’s resident dessert historian. Charles Austin makes an annual list of the Hottest Vegetables. This could be rainbow chard’s year.

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