Are we paying too much for pizza in Chicago and in Illinois? Just happened to hear that Datafiniti is a company doing some hard-hitting data analysis in the area of pizza prices and they analyzed restaurants serving pizza across the country to answer the all-important question: Are you and I paying too much for pizza?
Historically, you know that pizza may have its humble origins in Italy, but it was America that fully embraced the dish, opening global franchises, making it accessible at all times by creating a frozen dinner version, and serving it to every child enrolled in a public school on Fridays. Between 2007 – 2010, a USDA study estimated that 1 in 8 Americans ate some form of pizza on any given day. That number climbs to about 1 in 4 for males and 1 in 5 for females when looking specifically at Americans age 12 to 19. There’s no escaping it; pizza is ingrained in our diets.
How much will you pay for a large cheese pie? Median prices range from $7.25 to as much as $15. Despite only looking at plain cheese pizza, there are subtle stylistic differences that likely lead to price variation. The neighborhood family-friendly pizza place and the typical franchise have much lower prices than artisanal wood-fire pizzerias. Other regional differences, like Chicago deep dish, lead to higher prices as well. And the cities with the most expensive cheese pizzas in America? Buffalo, NY, Nashville, TN, and San Francisco, CA take the top three spots.
SO, are we paying more than average here in Illinois? In our great state, the answer — at least according to their research — is not really. Illinois ranked 22nd out of 51 (including Washington, D.C.), with the median price of a large cheese pizza coming in at $11.45.
Alaska had the cheapest pie ($7.25), and thank goodness we don’t live in North Dakota or Wyoming, where the median price topped $13. North Dakota and Wyoming have the most highest median prices. While there is no distinct regional trend, there are some possible explanations for what we see. These states have fewer pizzerias, which tend to be more upscale, artisanal sit-down restaurants. So in cases where you can find pizza, it’s just a more expensive variety. Maine and Alaska have the cheapest pizza options. While that’s not exactly the attribute you want your pizza to be known for, it is a great thing for pizza lovers in these states.
So which city has the most pizza restaurants per capita? When working with this data, they limited their comparison to the 50 cities with the greatest absolute number of pizza places. Chicago did not even make the top 24 on a per-capita basis! Orlando, FL sits at the top of the list with 21.6 restaurants per 100K residents. While Orlando is not known for any pizza tradition, a few things could be causing the abundance of pizza. Florida, in general, is known for tourism, Orlando especially. Pizza is guaranteed to interest tourists no matter where they’re from and it’s a great option for families when traveling. Ft. Lauderdale likely has a similar story. Number two is a city from New York that is not NYC; it’s Buffalo (20.2). This mid-sized city has a sizable Italian community and its own style of pizza. It’s a medium-thick crust round pie that is somewhere between New York and Chicago pizza styles. Our third place city, Minneapolis (21.1), may seem like the odd-man-out at first, but the Midwest also has its own distinct pie. Its square shape and medium-thick crust is similar to the traditional Neapolitan pie that families would bake at home. You’re likely to see this shape of pizza across the Rust Belt, as far east as Detroit.