Why I don't always eat my pizza first
Updated: Sep 14, 2020
So, I am not a scientist. Nor am I a mathematician or a physicist, but I have do have a theory. This is a theory that I came up with around the age of ten. My mom dubbed it The Pizza Theory, and that is what we have called it ever since. So a little back story, I grew up as the youngest child in a family of 5. We didn’t get pizza super often since the town we lived in didn’t have a pizzeria in it (hard to imagine I know) but when we did, we usually got 3 larges so there would be plenty for everyone. I can actually roughly pinpoint the creation of the pizza theory because it was when I was ten that we switched from ordering two pizzas to three. Mom always figured three pizzas, three kids, just let each of us pick what kind we wanted then there was no fighting amongst the lower ranks and Dad could just deal with it. Samantha (the oldest) always wanted pepperoni, classic choice, the pizza most people think of first when they think pizza. Alexandra (middle child) usually went for beef, I personally believe this is because she didn’t care that much and she was trying to earn points with Dad, since that was his favorite. I have always been and will always be a Canadian bacon pizza kind of kid, but no one else in my family actually likes Canadian bacon. This created a unique situation that only I was in.
3 large pizzas with 8 slices per pizza left us with (pulling out my calculator sarcastically) 24 slices to go around. On a typical night, Mom ate 2, Sam and Alex would eat 3 each, and Dad and I were both eating 6. This leaves 4 pieces for who ever got to them first for breakfast or lunch the next day. Or so you would think. For some reason it always seemed that all the pizza that made it to the fridge had Canadian Bacon on top. It didn’t take long for the rest of the family to take note of this. Mom is the one who took it upon herself to observe the process, after some time of this happening. So on an average pizza night the count would go like this.
Dad: 4 Hamburger, 2 Pepperoni
Mom: 2 Pepperoni
Sam: 3 Pepperoni
Alex: 3 Hamburger
Josh: 4 Canadian Bacon, 1 Pepperoni, 1 Hamburger
During the thick of it no one thinks about who is eating what, right? When she questioned me as to why I wasn’t eating the pizza that was bought specifically for me. I told her I was. As the youngest, I usually was the last one through the line for food, I like all the kinds of pizza so why limit myself to the kind that only I would eat if other types where left behind. By eating the other types first, I could secure a larger portion of the whole for myself without any extra work. I am pretty sure when I told her that, she laughed. She never tried to stop me and when my siblings confronted her about it she said it was my reward for thinking the problem through and not being picky.
If you are ever faced with a problem where you have the advantage of a choice; don’t always assume that the best choice is to pick your favorite first. Sometimes picking your opponent’s favorite first or their least favorite last gives you the upper hand. For example, lets say you are back on the playground and you are one of the team captains for that days pickup basketball game. Everyone knows who the best players are so you would think that the picks would be very predictable. If you are choosing first normally, you would pick the best player then your opponent would pick second best and so on and so forth. But in this example, you know that the other guy picking is holding a serious grudge against the number 1 player. By picking the second best you increases the odds of having the higher overall team standing because now your opponent will either have to go for third or swallow his pride (something that doesn’t happen on the playground).
There are plenty of applications where I have applied my pizza theory to better my hand. Choosing household chores, work negotiations, and especially for outwitting a certain two-year-old I know. But you also have to be careful when applying it. Without the proper for thought your opponent might just swallow his pride after all then you lost out on the most favorable option. This is not a tool to eliminate risk, only to manipulate probability slightly. The world is not fair, so why should you play fair either?
But more on that later, I hope this post has found you in good heath and of a sound mind. I am just another confused father from Kansas wondering...
How did I end up here?
There is an entire field of study dedicated to decision based probablity called Game Theory (Not the Youtube Channel but I do also enjoy that). It is incredibliy interesting stuff an includes this theory in much more advanced formats if you are interested.