The New York Pizza Connection

The New York Pizza Connection

The New York Pizza Connection, or Pizza Principle, is a humorous but generally historically accurate "economic law" proposed by native New Yorker Eric M. Bram, who noted in 1980 that from the early 1960's the price of a slice of pizza "matched, with uncanny precision, the cost of a New York City Subway ride." [Glenn Collins, Metropolitan Diary, "The New York Times," 18 June 1980, p.C2] Five years later, in 1985, the late, great writer, historian, blogger, [ [ A Girl and a Gun] ] and film critic George Fasel (1938-2005) learned of the correlation and wrote about it in an op-ed for "The New York Times." [George Fasel, "If You Understand Pizza, You Understand Subway Fares," "The New York Times," 14 December 1985, p.27]

The term "Pizza Connection" referring to this phenomenon was coined in early 2002 by "New York Times" columnist Clyde Haberman who, observing that this theory had by now become part of the traditional wisdom of New York City in the minds of many New Yorkers, used the theory to forecast that since the cost of a slice of pizza was as high as two dollars in midtown Manhattan, the subway fare, currently $1.50, was bound to rise. [Clyde Haberman, " [ Beware The Price Of a Slice] ," "The New York Times," 12 January 2002.] Sure enough, at the beginning of July Mayor Bloomberg announced that subway and bus fares would probably be going up soon, [Clyde Haberman, " [ A Subway Fare Increase? As Inevitable as Pepperoni] ," "The New York Times," 9 July 2002.] and in May of 2003 "The New Yorker" magazine proclaimed the success of the Pizza Connection (which they renamed the "pizza principle") in accurately predicting the rise of the subway fare to $2.00 the week before. [Nick Paumgarten, " [ Two Bucks] ," "The New Yorker," 19 May 2003.] However, they also quoted Mr. Bram, now a patent attorney in Westchester County, as warning that the direct correlation between the cost of an off-the-street slice of cheese pizza and the cost of a subway token might not continue to hold, since the New York City Transit Authority had recently announced the discontinuation of the subway token itself, in favor of the variable-fare cost MetroCard. [Richard Pérez Peña, " [ Farewell, Subway Token] ," "The New York Times," 15 March 2003.]

Mr. Bram's fears may have been well-founded. In 2005, [Clyde Haberman, " [ Digging Deep for a Slice of the Pie] ," "The New York Times," 21 June 2005.] and again in 2007, [Clyde Haberman, " [ Will Subway Fares Rise? Check at Your Pizza Place] ," "The New York Times," 27 July 2007.] Haberman noted the price of a slice was again rising, and, citing the Pizza Connection, worried that the subway fare might soon rise again. But now, near the end of 2008, the cost of a single subway ride is still holding at $2.00, and it seems that the advent of MetroCard may have indeed, at long last, destroyed the Pizza Connection correlation.

But then, it took eight years for the City to decide to finally raise the fare from $1.50 to $2.00, so who knows?


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