Tuesday, 15 February 2005

Conspiracy theories and serving sizes

Some interesting thoughts on the difficulty of organizing a conspiracy:

Every time [a possible conspiracy] comes up in a class I ask the students if they’ve ever tried to order a pizza for 3 people, and if yes whether it was difficult to agree about what to get on it and how to divide it up. Occassionally a light bulb goes on over one of their heads when they make the connection that if pizza is this hard than conspiracy must be damn near impossible.

Completely unrelated: has anyone noticed that the recommended serving size of virtually any frozen pizza (so far tested with DiGiorno, Tombstone, and Kroger-brand Tombstone clone) is one-fifth of a pizza? However, dividing a pizza—particularly the “thin crust” DiGiorno, which is square—into fifths is left as an exercise for the consumer. (þ: Cold Spring Shops)

Dividing the square DiGiorno into fifths is actually fairly easy; just do five parallel slices of equal width, and then for eating simplicity split the long slices in halves or thirds. The round pizzas, on the other hand, will require the use of a protractor.


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Recommended serving sizes have nothing to do with eating. It’s a way to jigger the fat, sodium and calorie numbers to make the product look healthier than it is, since most don’t pay close attention to serving size.


There actually is a guy at NYU named Stephen Brams who has worked out how to divide things fairly for different numbers of people. So, the problem isn’t incomprehensible, but the pizza example works for students.

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