A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from January 10, 2012
Pizza Connection or Pizza Principle (price of the subway vs. price of a slice of pizza)

The “pizza connection” or “pizza principle” is the New York City rule that the price of a slice of pizza is almost exactly equal to the price of a subway ride. The New York (NY) Times had a June 1980 “Metropolitan Diary” by Eric Bram (a patent attorney) on the pizza connection, and then ran a 1985 opinion by George Fasel (a banker, not a film critic as stated in Wikipedia).

In the 2000s, several shops opened up offering 99c slices of pizza, so the “pizza principle” does not always hold true.


Wikipedia: 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. He noted in 1980 that from the early 1960s the price of a slice of pizza “matched, with uncanny precision, the cost of a New York City Subway ride.”

In 1985, the late writer, historian, and film critic George Fasel learned of the correlation and wrote about it in an op-ed for The New York Times. The term “Pizza Connection” referring to this phenomenon was coined in early 2002 by New York Times columnist Clyde Haberman. He made the observation that the theory had been used by New Yorkers to the cost of a slice of pizza would increase by as high as two dollars in midtown Manhattan, and commented on the two earlier publications of the theory in the Times.

In May 2003 The New Yorker magazine proclaimed the validity 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. They also quoted Mr. Bram (by then a patent attorney) as warning that since the New York City Transit Authority had announced the discontinuation of the subway token itself in favor of the variable-fare cost MetroCard, 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.

In 2005, and again in 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. The fare did indeed rise to $2.25 in June 2009 and will again in 2011 to $2.50.

18 June 1980, New York (NY) Times, “Metropolitan Diary” by Glenn Collins, pg. C2:
ERIC BRAM did not have the slightest doubt about the future of the New York City transit fare. “Since the early 60’s.” he pronounces, “the price of a slice of pizza has matched, with uncanny precision, the cost of a New York subway ride. Right now, it is impossible for any discerning New Yorker to find a decent slice of pizza for less than 60 cents. The 50-cent fare was doomed.”

14 December 1985, New York (NY) Times, pg. 27:
If You Understand Pizza, You Understand Subway Fares:
A lesson in the most elementary economics

By George Fasel (A vice president of the Bankers Trust Company—ed.)
(...)
A friend came to the rescue. He is a man who understands the delicate interplay of markets. “You’ve missed the connection,” he told me. “The transit token has no relationship to capital costs, union contracts, passenger miles, or depreciation schedules. Forget all that. The critical variables are flour, tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese.”

“You mean...?”

“Yes, the token in subtly but inextricably linked to the price of a slice of pizza. Don’t ask why. It just is.”
(...)
If you don’t believe this fare-pizza thesis, ask yourself, on Jan. 1, when the price of a subway and bus ride becomes $1, what other explanation there is for the increase.

New York (NY) Times
The Return of the Subway Token Dance
By SAM ROBERTS
Published: January 22, 1995
A decade ago, George Fasel, a Bankers Trust vice president, discovered a quirky truism about New York City’s subway fare: the cost of a ride roughly parallels the price of a slice of pizza. In the Brooklyn neighborhood that is home to Jay Walder, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s executive director, pizza now sells for $1.50 a slice.

New York (NY) Times
NYC; Beware The Price Of a Slice
By CLYDE HABERMAN
Published: January 12, 2002
(...)
Beware the Pizza Connection, he said, and he wasn’t talking about a drug ring. He had revived a forgotten variation on the interplay of markets, New York style.

Strange though it may seem, the cost of a subway ride has traditionally paralleled the price of a pizza slice. (We’re talking here about a regular slice—mozzarella and tomato sauce, with none of those fancy-shmancy toppings that muck around with one of civilization’s great achievements.) Call it, if you will, the Fasel Corollary, named for George Fasel, a vice president at Bankers Trust who made the link in a 1985 article on this newspaper’s Op-Ed page.

New York (NY) Times
NYC; As Inevitable As Pepperoni: Higher Fares
By CLYDE HABERMAN
Published: July 09, 2002
(...)
In January, this column credited this important discovery to a banker named George Fasel, who wrote about it in 1985 for this newspaper’s Op-Ed page. Not so fast. That’s what you get for relying on a computerized network of data retrieval. The system failed (we blame machines rather than ourselves) to note that the pizza-subway link had been made in these pages five years earlier by Eric M. Bram, a Bronx-born patent lawyer who works in Westchester.

Mr. Bram has kindly set the record straight. And, he said yesterday, ‘’with the cost of pizza being what it is, I’m expecting a fare increase any day.’’

New York (NY) Times
Will Subway Fares Rise? Check at Your Pizza Place
By CLYDE HABERMAN
Published: July 27, 2007
The subway and bus fare will rise soon enough to $2.25, if not higher. How can we be so sure? To answer the question with another question, have you been to a pizza parlor lately?

Once again the Pizza Connection is kicking in.

As we noted in this space a few years ago, the transit fare and the price of a pizza slice have run remarkably parallel for decades. In 1960, a subway token cost a mere 15 cents. So did a slice — a regular slice, mind you, no extra toppings. In the early 1970s, the fare went up to 35 cents. So did pizza.

New York (NY) Observer
The Pizza Principle
With Subway Fare Upped to $2.50, Will Pizza Slice Prices Follow Suit?

By Nate Freeman 10/07/10 6:48pm
One of the unspoken laws that governs the way New York City works is the truly amazing “Pizza Principle.”

Huffington Post
‘The Pizza Principle’, MTA & Pizza Correlation, Investigated By ‘Internets Celebrities’ (VIDEO)
First Posted: 6/30/11 01:40 PM ET Updated: 8/30/11 06:12 AM ET
Ever notice how the average price of a piece of New York pizza correlates to the city’s subway fare?

“The Pizza Principle” is all but economic law and such a significant slice of Gotham folklore that the New York Times has been covering it for years.

Now Dallas Penn and Rafi Kam, the duo behind the video series Internets Celebrities, take to the streets to investigate--questioning MTA employees, interviewing pizza shop owners, and exploring the anomaly of the $1 slice, all while eating a whole lot of pizza.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • (0) Comments • Tuesday, January 10, 2012 • Permalink