Pizzanomics: What's the link between cost of a NYC slice and cost of subway ride?

[video link]

Internets Celebrities, starring Dallas Penn and Rafi Kam, is my new favorite internet video series. You'll see these guys on the Boing Boing Video in-flight television channel on Virgin America starting next month. Their latest episode explores the connection between the cost of a slice of pizza in New York City, and the cost of an MTA subway token. From the video description:

In 1980, New Yorker Eric Bram noticed that for twenty years the price of a subway token had tended to match the price of a slice of pizza. Thirty years later, his hypothesis still holds true. The question we wanted answered is WHY. Are the MTA and the various supposedly independent pizza shops involved in collusion - or who's taking their pricing cues from who? And what about the dollar pizza spots that have been popping up all over Manhattan recently -- could these be predicting a lower cost transit authority appearing in our future?
Directed by Casimir Nozkowski, Edited by Corinne Maro, Original Music by Bless 1, Producers: Robin Oye, Jesse Wilson, Cornelius van Gorkom.

(thanks, Jesse Thorn!)


  1. Heh, I kind of feel sorry for the people outside the MTA, the guys seemed confrontational even though they were just having some fun.

  2. I love these guys. I saw their Bodega video years ago, and it is one of my all-time favorites.

  3. Why a slice for a dollar? From expierience: cause they put hardly any sauce or cheese on it. Not good slices at all, unless you are realllly hungry. Like they say, when you are desperate, there is no such thing as a bad slice of pizza or bad sex.

  4. Fun video, but it would be heaps more interesting if they actually, you know, SAID something. Like call the MTA and get a spokesperson, do they have an official line on it? Breakdown some more costs (the ONLY new thing I learned in this video was that the cost of flour went from $12 to $28 between 2006 & 2007).

  5. Had to eat the last 2 slices I had in the fridge after this…
    Korner on Church and E 3rd

  6. I grew up in Brooklyn. Live 5 minutes from MTA headquarters. Love the NYC subway. And have known people who have worked for the MTA as well. The MTA is one of the most corrupt entities in NYC. The cost of a fare has 100% nothing to do with anything connected to reality. A few token stations are cleaned and upgraded, but the vast majority of stations are treated like crap and have not changed one bit since the 1980s.

    And that guy out of MTA headquarters who explains the fare is justified by the attitude of people they serve? What kind of nonsense is that? MTA workers are some of the rudest most self-centered assholes I have ever met in my life. I have never seen any city workers with such smug senses of entitlement elsewhere. Can’t get them to even basically help you and even the few remaining station clerks who do mostly nothing all day—since the MTA fare card machines have taken over their job—are jerks if you have to ask them for help doing the one or two things they still are supposed to do.

    And no disrespect to “Tony’s Pizza” on Fulton and Adams (featured in this piece) but their pizza is dreck. Walk a few blocks over to Court Street & State Street to “My Little Pizzeria.” Or better yet go over to Henry Street near Pineapple Street to “Fascati.” That stuff is tons better.

    1. It’s no different here in San Francisco. BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) have the rudest customer service I’ve ever encountered and their employees are overpaid. The stations are clean enough though. However, the cars are fitted with fabric seating and carpeted which are stained with hair product, urine and excrement.

    2. Oh it makes me sad to hear people complain about the NYC subway system.

      It might be old, hot and frequently smelly but it works damn it.

      Here in the wonderful land of Oz (Australia) we don’t so much have the problem of smelly (very few stations are underground) but we’ve got all the other problems, and nothing fucking works.

      Oh damn I missed my train… oh well 30 minutes until the next one… oh wait that’s been cancelled, guess I’ll be here an hour.

  7. Its because, if you spend your subway money on a slice of pizza instead, you’re forced to walk, and burn up the extra calories.

  8. No such thing as bad sex? For men, maybe.

    Interesting that pizza and a bus token have cost the same for so long. In the late 60s, they were 15 cents each. The Daily News went from 7 to 8 cents around that time. Now, it’s $1. Still about half, eh? So, is somebody going to do graph of cheese and sauce to transportation to ink and paper prices? I think this would approach a Unified Field Theory in importance.

  9. Offtopic: Doh! I used to live on church and East 2nd. F train in da hizzouse. Are the kosher deli and scarola’s still on church right there? Best ever lobster fra diavolo for 14 bucks.

    Ontopic: I think both have been mapped to the price of a bottle of soda.

  10. Inflation.

    Both items started off about the same price, then inflation kept them increasing by the same rate; so prices stay similar. Is this a surprise?

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