Correct Pizza Orientation

I must bring up a contentious issue. Some years ago, it came to my attention that many people don’t understand where the top of a pizza slice is. Allow me to set the record straight, clearly and without any ambiguity. The first photo is right-side-up. The top of a slice of pizza is the point. The bottom is the crust. End of story.

Pizza - Point up RIGHT!
Pizza - Point down WRONG!

Based on past polling, it is clear that my view is in the minority. Nevertheless, having consumed a truly awesome amount of pizza in my lifetime, I feel my opinion suffices. Yes, I am America’s leading authority on your basic cheese pizza. (The only voice that could sway me is that of my oldest brother, my only rival in total lifetime slices consumed.)

16 thoughts on “Correct Pizza Orientation”

  1. interesting post, I had never considered this important subject before. However, the presentation of the photos confused me a bit, b/c the words “right” and “wrong” appear at the bottom of the pictures, and thus closest to the opposite end of the slice that they are referring to. Otherwise, well done.
    P.S.–when will Muttroxia T-Shirts be made available?

  2. With all due respect to someone with vastly more pizza experience than I, I’d like to make a few observations.

    First, if the author would show me how he can set the record straight clearly but with an ambiguity, or not clearly but without an ambiguity, I’d be honored to learn. A bit of a redundancy there.

    Second, implicit in his most erudite posting is the notion that a slice of pizza has a top and a bottom. That subject is worthy of exploration by him. A circle doesn’t have a top or a bottom. If a sllice is but a part of a circle, and the circle doesn’t have a top or bottom, can it really be said that the slice has a top or bottom?

    Third, another important issue is whether, assuming that a slice has a top and bottom, the top is always at the same place (point or crust) regardless of whether there are add ons, such as pepperoni. Isn’t it possible for the “top” to change depending on such things? I haven’t thought much about this, but there is so much in life that isn’t absolute that it’s possible that the point/crust top/bottom issue doesn’t always come out the same.

    Finally, another assumption made by the author, actually, a major error made by the author, is the assertion implicit in his posting that his orientation of the slice is the correct orientation. Any lover of pizza knows that the part of the pizza with the cheese, etc. on it is the top and the part that rests on the oven or plate is the bottom. How does a lover of pizza know that? Because when you call the pizza store, the guy always asks if you want any toppings, and you can’t put toppings on the bottom or they’d fall off! The author obviously doesn’t know that because, as he concedes, he neveer orders any toppings.

  3. To Aaronmg… the interface for this blog makes me hard-code most HTML. I didn’t bother to get the alignments correct, I’m sure you can figure it out…

  4. Hank,

    I figured someone would bring up the literal bottom of the slice. Points for cleverness. It’s a fair point, but ducking the common usage. Imagine the question put differently. There is one piece left, and you decide to split it with the boy. You cut it so the point is on one side, and the crust on the other. Which is the top?

    As far as circles goes, the act of cutting moves into a different geometrical area. You can’t assume that because the whole has certain mathematical properties that the parts do also. To put it simply, just because a circle doesn’t have a top or bottom does not mean that none of it’s consituent parts do. By cutting, you have broken the symmetry. By breaking symmetries, you introduce new properties, namely a defined top and bottom.

    Here’s another way to look at it. The pizza has potential top and bottom in three spacial dimensions. One is the literal top and bottom, which you pointed out. Here, the pizza is asymmetric in that one side has sauce, cheese, and extras, while the other is just crust. We can use that asymmetry to define top and bottom. Another dimestion is “along the circumference”, what we’d probably call the left and right side of a slice. Since the sector is congruent with itself by flipping it around that axis, no top or bottom can be defined. Then there’s the dimension from the point to the crust. This is clearly non-symmetric, so there can be a clearly defined top and bottom, which is the gist of this posting.

    Math geek mode, off.

  5. I don’t understand why it would have a top and bottom (bread vs. toppings), as well as a second top and bottom (crust vs. point). It seems that you would really be discussing the “front vs. back” issue.

    To put it another way: if the pizza falls on the ground, and you are wondering if it is still edible, you would be wondering if it landed top down.

    So, if you would agree that we are talking about the front vs. the back, I posit that you hold the back (crust) and eat from the front (tip) to the back.

    Or are you one of those freaks that eats the crust first?

  6. You have to be kidding me. Some people actually think the crust end is the top? That’s ridiculous. No wonder our country is falling behind in critical skills like math and science… we can’t even master basic pizza geography!

  7. I don’t agree with this. My perception of the orientation of the pie is formed by how it actually enters the mouth. I’ve always held the slice by the crust (the top) in a manner that the bottom of the slice (the point) gets lowered into my mouth. This is particularly the case of overly greasy pizza that doesn’t hold its shape very well. For pies with a crisp crust, it is easier to eat the pizza from what is (from my perspective) bottom up. This is not, however, what is pictured and is typically not what you get from the average American pizza joint. I must side with what you acknowledge is the majority on this important issue.

  8. Muttrox, don’t ever talk or communicate with this Jabley fellow again. He is obviously a fool.

  9. Top and Bottom orientation is useless and meaningless. The REAL terminlogy should be FRONT and BACK. You eat the slice front-to-back. So the point is the front and the crust is the back. Put that on your slice and eat it!

  10. I can’t believe someone posted to this 6 months later. In response, I bring back my March 8th IM conversation with Jabley, which was still floating around my computer.

    ======================
    [13:08] Jabley: so you see no merit shatsoever in my pizza logic?
    [13:08] Jabley: when the tip of the pizza hangs DOWN when you hold it, I tend to think of that as the bottom
    [13:16] Muttrox: name anything with a top and bottom that you eat from the bottom
    [13:17] Muttrox: nay, no merit whatsover
    [13:17] Jabley: pizza
    [13:17] Muttrox: holding the top downwards does not magically make it the bottom
    [13:17] Jabley: spaghetti on a fork
    [13:17] Muttrox: when you drink a beer, do you drink the top or bottom first
    [13:17] Jabley: that’s a cylinder, jerk
    [13:18] Muttrox: what’s the difference, you drink the top of the drink
    [13:18] Jabley: and you yourself admit that most people agree with me
    [13:18] Muttrox: if you eat kabob off of a stick, you eat from the top of the stick right?
    [13:18] Muttrox: i do – but most people are wrong
    [13:18] Muttrox: I yield to no one when it comes to pizza — particuarly if it’s a competlely menaingless argument!
    [13:19] Jabley: plus, the directionality of a drink is defined by its container
    [13:19] Muttrox: actally it’s defnied by gravity
    [13:19] Jabley: 🙂
    [13:19] Jabley: in coordination with the container
    [13:19] Muttrox: ok
    [13:20] Muttrox: i’m trying ot think of any other food that has an obvious top and bottom…
    [13:20] Jabley: ice cream
    [13:21] Muttrox: an ice cream cone?
    [13:21] Jabley: yes
    [13:21] Muttrox: ok
    [13:21] Muttrox: what do you eat first, top or botom?
    [13:22] Jabley: in that case, you eat the top first….I’d note that in that scenario, you approach the broad part of the cone (top of the pizza) first
    [13:22] Jabley: and get to the bottom (point) later
    [13:22] Muttrox:
    [13:22] Muttrox: what do you mean, you approach the borad part of the cone first? You eat the ice cream point first.
    [13:23] Muttrox: oh I see what you mean
    [13:23] Jabley: the point is the bottom of the cone, man
    [13:23] Jabley: yes, I tried to draft my comment in carefully worded language
    [13:23] Muttrox: you’re thinking of the truly conical cone, right.
    [13:23] Muttrox: so the bottom of the cone is the part you hold
    [13:23] Muttrox: and the part you eat last
    [13:23] Jabley: I could just see you calling me a cockgobbler or something b/c of the wording of the comment.
    [13:24] Muttrox: By the way, this:
    [13:24] Muttrox: I’ve always held the slice by the crust (the top) in a manner that the bottom of the slice (the point) gets lowered into my mouth.
    [13:24] Muttrox: is completely untrue
    [13:24] Muttrox: and I dare you to watch yourself when you eat. It sounds good, but it’s very very rare that you actually lower food into your mouth
    [13:25] Jabley: when you have a piece of pizza that’s right out of the oven, that’s basically the only way to do ti
    [13:25] Jabley: it
    [13:25] Jabley: we’re not talking about out of the fridge, 3 day old pizza
    [13:25] Jabley: which is great
    [13:25] Muttrox: lol
    [13:25] Muttrox: this is an awesome argument
    [13:26] Muttrox: I totally disbelieve you. Again, I challenge you to watch yourself.
    [13:26] Muttrox: Maybe one bite out of 500 is done this way
    [13:26] Jabley: I’m going to get a video of it
    [13:26] Muttrox: o no, nothing staged!
    [13:26] Jabley: it gets easier as you eat toward the top
    [13:26] Muttrox: I just want you to notice the next few times you eat pizza, how often you actually hold the piece downwards.
    [13:27] Muttrox: TOWARDS THE BOTTOM YOU IMBECILE!! lol
    [13:27] Jabley: after the bottom of the piece is consumed, you can basically level off
    [13:28] Muttrox: so you say that the point is the bottom because it points downwards in your eating motion.
    [13:28] Muttrox: I say, 1) that’s not true hardly ever
    [13:28] Muttrox: 2) it’s not where you hold it
    [13:28] Muttrox: 3) it’s the part you eat last
    [13:29] Jabley: plus, I look at eating pizza as a mission…..a gastronomic mountain to climb. You start from the bottom and work your way to the top.
    [13:29] Muttrox: Not only that — simply look at a triangle shape, without thinking of it as pizza. The top is clearly the highest point, and the bottom is a supporting line. It’s simple geometry

  11. Brad, didn’t I tell you this guy is a fool? Stop wasting your time on people like this. If you can’t tell the top of a slice from the bottom of a slice, you ought to be sent back to the class where they also teach you not to eat crayons. Dumb!

  12. Since you are bringing this back up, I rephrase my argument.

    Have you ever ordered a topping for your pizza? I’m sure you have. Where did the topping go? On the top, that’s why they call it a topping. The flat expanse with all the cheese and sauce is the top. The pointy part is the front. The crust/handle is the back.

  13. I’m just plain dumbfounded. Has no one realized that eating a pizza is the classic definition of a top-down approach? First, you take in the whole circular pizza as it comes out of the oven. Then you carefully cut it into the standard octet of component “slices”. Next, you gently masticate the pieces into their subsystems, taking in the flavor. And finally, you digest the base elements, while comparing them to the whole as you look for another component to break down. So, I can’t see how it could be more obvious: you start eating from the TOP, no matter which end you bite into first!

    This, by correlation, would make Mutt’s answer correct about 93% of the time (lucky you!).

  14. Michael, I understand your point, but that renders an meaningless conversation even worse – since no one has ever argued about that version of top vs. bottom. This is a forced choice question, you have to assign the word “top” to either the point or the base. Because people do use those terms, even if you hear it also as front and back.

    Matt, Glad to see you agree with me, by whatever freaky logic you can come up with.

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