New york city City’s world-famous pizza has several merits, as well as among them has actually constantly been that it’s inexpensive. Yet not as inexpensive as it utilized to be! And also currently we have clear-cut evidence of that, many thanks to 32-year-old freelance press reporter Liam Quigley. The resource of his information is instead unusual: Quigley has actually been logging every piece of pizza he directly has actually consumed in New york city for the last 8 years—that’s 494 pieces—as well as he just recently revealed his chest of statistics as well as graphes, consisting of an interactive map as well as searchable spread sheet of each and every single piece, for all the net to read. Definitely the Nobel Reward board will certainly call him up any kind of day currently, however given that he required something to maintain himself inhabited in the meanwhile, Quigley accepted speak with me regarding his ruining searchings for. This meeting has actually been modified as well as compressed for clearness.
Heather Schwedel: Just how does one begin on a course towards gathering years of information regarding their individual pizza usage?
Liam Quigley: I stay in Brooklyn. I was birthed in Manhattan. And also like several New york city City children, pizza was sort of like your best lunch treat. That never ever actually altered for me. I just left New york city as soon as to visit university in Baltimore. Ever since, I’ve stayed in the city, as well as I still consume a great deal of pizza, so I assumed: Why not record it in a useful means? Individuals have a great deal of point of views regarding pizza as well as I assumed the cost was an actually helpful item of information to have, specifically when you don’t have a great deal of cash in your pocket.
Do you have any kind of official pizza qualifications?
I assume I most likely consume just somewhat over the typical quantity of pizza. I provided pies for Finest Pizza, which is sort of an upscale—would certainly individuals claim hipster, is it a hipster area? It was excellent pizza, however costly. I utilized to supply pizza for them as well as do extremely standard things in the back like making the pizza boxes. That was 2012 to 2014. I’m not a pizza professional. I’m simply a person that suches as an excellent piece.
Just how did you select what pizza to consist of, as well as just how did you make certain you obtained sufficient information?
I didn’t have a collection number objective, however I understood there are a great deal of actually excellent pieces in the city. I simply wished to see that map fill out with dots of pieces that were excellent as well as locations that misbehaved, simply to have a document.
Considering the map currently, I assume I might have done Staten Island much more justice. I’ve just had an automobile for like 2 out of the last 8 years. And after that I offered my vehicle currently once again. So you understand, I’m sorry, Staten Island. And also I assume I might have covered much more ground in Queens as well as the Bronx. Yet you understand, I never ever headed out particularly to include a piece. These are all pieces that I obtained either when I was reporting or functioning or doing another thing or going to a pal, possibly with the exemption of 1 or 2 areas. These are all locations that I naturally was hanging around.
I assume most Brand-new Yorkers, we consume a respectable quantity of pizza. You can stroll in as well as you can sort of inform if the piece is mosting likely to be suitable. So often you’ll stroll in as well as you’ll see like, “Ugh, that piece does not look appealing.” Yet the regulation what the regulation was I gotta add it to the map.
But you didn’t want to distinguish on your map between good and bad?
No, because that just gets into such a slippery slope with the ratings. I’ve seen some people’s opinions on pizza that I really disagree with, and I’m sure people would disagree with my things. No one can disagree that the slice costs $1.50.
How did you keep track of your data? With pizza, you’re often paying in cash, you don’t get a receipt, and then you have this hot, greasy food in your hand—
I get the slice. I take the picture, post to Instagram with the price, add the location on the Instagram post, so now I’ve obtained the location, the price, and the photo and the date. Then later I export all that data to a spreadsheet. And then I geolocate or whatever that expression is those addresses into latitude and longitude and then there you go. The only problem really was when Instagram—I hate Instagram so much—started removing locations without telling me. I would diligently tag the location. I go back a year later, and all these locations are missing. It took me several hours to restore that lost data that Instagram removed.
Instagram sucks. This has been a dream of mine, to lambaste Instagram in the press.
I thought it was interesting that you excluded dollar slices from your data. Do you consider a regular slice of pizza and a dollar slice of pizza two completely different things?
Yes, totally. I think that’s exactly it. I remember when Two Bros. first started, it was really good. Everybody was going there because it was really affordable. And they had a lot of volume. So the slices will be really fresh, even if they weren’t quite as good as your average slice. Yet I think the average dollar slice quality has plummeted over the past decade, and with it, it’s kind of dragged down the average quality of regular slices.
One reaction I’ve seen to this is that you didn’t actually eat all that much pizza.
That’s a fair criticism. I mean, remember, I didn’t include places—like if I have a go-to spot and I’m eating a slice of pizza there like eight times over a year, but I’ve already put a photo of that place once in the beginning of the year, that’s not getting uploaded. And number of pies are not getting uploaded. So every time I order a pie to my house or a friend’s house, that’s not getting included.
Did you start to see signs of inflation in your data from the last year?
Yeah, the last year, everything got expensive. It feels like it’s risen more dramatically. I think that’s fair to say. Like a new place will open up and I walked in and I was charged $3.81 in August. For just a slice.
Why did you decide to end the project?
I was getting tired of it. I was getting tired of eating bad pizza, and I think it’s in a excellent place to close the data down. The average slice did actually hit $3 at the end of 2022. It’s now $3—it’s not connected with the subway fare thing anymore.
You’re referring to the “pizza principle,” the idea that in New York, a slice of pizza as well as a subway ride will always cost roughly the same amount. (The current subway fare in New York is $2.75 per ride.) Do you think that’s a good principle?
I like the idea of it, but I’d prefer if public transit was free. I think the subway fare should be free for everyone. And I hope it doesn’t go up. I’m sure it probably will. I’m sure someone at the MTA is only half-joking when they say, “Hey, did you read this article in Slate? We’ll get less backlash to raising the fare next year.”
How much does a slice have to cost for you to consider it outrageous?
If I go to a random pizza spot in Queens and I’m like, “How much is a plain size?” and they’re like $3.50 or $3.75, I’m gonna look at it and be like, “Really, bro?” But if it looks good, I’ll still buy it. I don’t know, I don’t know what it’s like to run a business in the city. If I walk in a place now and it’s a plain slice and it’s $4.50—whereas last year, I would kind of be obligated to buy it—I’m definitely walking out the door unless it’s an amazing-looking slice.
What would you say is your ideal slice of pizza?
No more than $3, with a good amount of sauce and really good cheese. And really good crust. A lot of places don’t have enough sauce on their slices. And it has to be fresh. Ideally it came out of the oven like 13-and-a-half minutes ago.
Now that you don’t have to go to all these different places, where are you going to go for pizza?
If I’m in Jamaica, in Queens, Margherita on Jamaica Avenue is amazing. Near the beach in the summer, Pizza D’Amore on East 116th St. is so good. Joe’s Pizza, I know some people don’t like it, but I think Joe’s Pizza is really good. Bleeker Street Pizza’s really good. And Sunnyside Pizza, though I’m not over there that often. And then I like Mario’s in Fort Greene. I like to order delivery from them.
How do you plan to address any haters of your project that might emerge?
Maybe I’ll go live on Instagram, late at night. No, no, it’s been good. Someone asked me how my waistline correlated, and I said it was 29 inches when I started and 32 inches now. That might simply be obtaining older.